Is your child the shortest and weighs the least among his/her friends circle? Have you been observing a slower growth in your child? Often parents find themselves in a fix trying to figure out what could possibly go wrong with the diet they’re feeding their children. Before you jump to conclusions based on your own observations, it is important that you measure the height to weight and age ration on health calculators over the internet.
Most of the times, growth in children has little to do with the diet, and more with the amount of exercise and physical activity that is part of their routine. Other factors that come into play are genetics, intolerance towards a certain nutrient (lactose intolerance being most common), thyroid issues or an eating disorder they may be experiencing at some point.
More than often, it isn’t the diet that needs to be changed, but a visit to the pediatrician is due. While many parents practice self-diagnosis, it usually does more harm than benefit. Once you get your child tested completely and are assured that they are absolutely alright medically, you can try out the following foods to see a positive change in your child’s weight.
Healthy Foods for Kids and Babies to Gain Weight
1. Dairy Products
Goes without saying, the first change you need to make in your child’s diet is to increase the amount of their daily dairy intake. This involves making butter, milk and cream a part of their breakfast. Milk is loaded with nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, vitamin B2, and vitamin B12 and vitamin D. This doesn’t only make bones and teeth strong but helps in gaining weight too. Since whole fat milk can make the children feel full too quickly, you need to increase its quantity in their breakfast gradually.
If a glass of milk is a huge repellent for your kids, try out new recipes that include high amounts of milk and butter. This could simply be a peanut butter shake or chocolate hummus. Feeding small amounts of chocolate won’t be harmful but would get your children to make milk a part of their breakfast.
It is medically recommended to take milk in the morning and with items rich in vitamin D, which is present in eggs and butter. This increases the bio-availability of calcium, i.e. increasing its absorption in our body. Avoid giving milk with whole grain products as it decreases its absorption by our body. Yogurt is an even richer source of calcium, which can be given in place of milk. Try frozen yogurt recipes at home to ensure a diet with dairy products in it.
Another trick is to try giving everyday food to your children with a whipped cream topping. (Of course this doesn’t apply to savory foods). Whether its their favorite shake, pancakes in the morning, or simply fruits, whip cream is full of calories and makes the food look appealing to the kids too.
However, when you start seeing signs of weight gain, try and shift to fat-free milk (skimmed) milk.
2. Fresh Juices
Nothing healthier than a glass of fresh juice with all the nutrients you need. During the process of weight gain, you need to ensure that you’re feeding your child a healthy diet. The nutrients will eventually show your desired impact on your child’s overall health without having to bear consequences. Get any seasonal fruit and serve freshly extracted juice to give your little ones a vitamin and mineral rich diet. Avoid synthetic juices as they contain chemicals and won’t exactly have a positive impact on your child’s health.
Some juices, for example, pomegranate juice, are naturally good at increasing appetite. Other fruits are also rich in vitamins. A vitamin rich diet is key to increasing appetite, which ultimately helps in gaining weight.
Commonly known as diet food, oatmeal can help with weight gain in your children, if consumed a certain way. By adding high proteins mix ins to your oatmeal, children can considerably gain weight. Similarly, taking milk with your oatmeal, or simply adding milk to your oatmeal cereal increases its bio-availability. Other food options that you can take with your oatmeal are bananas, almonds, pecans and nuts.
Dried fruits such as mangoes, dehydrated cranberries and raisins are also added to oatmeal to increase its calories. By increasing the calorie count of your breakfast, a combination of these food items assist in gaining weight.
Potatoes are another addition you can make in your diet to increase weight. The best part about potatoes is that you can have them in countless ways. Start off by including it in salads and meals. If your kids do not like eating it raw, you can bake mashed potatoes at home, add cheese to bake potato skins, make fries or cutlets, the options are never ending.
Potatoes are made up of starch which primarily belongs to the carbohydrate group. This makes them a great source of energy. Since you’ll be using potatoes for weight gain in your kids, you need to combine them with a protein source( chicken or meat), to make the perfect healthy meal.
5. Granola Bars
Commonly used as a breakfast food, granola is one of the best food items you can feed your kids to increase weight. One cup of granola contains around 450 calories which can be further increased by adding in milk. Rich in protein and fiber, it is a great choice for breakfast which kids love to have.
Another form in which this can be consumed is granola bars. Whole grain granola bars are made up of oats, butter and brown sugar and can easily be made at home as well.
6. Focus More on Beverages
If you often find your kid running away from meals or coming up with excuses at lunch time, you need to try another trick. Shift from solid meals to beverages. With gazillions of recipes available online, try out recipes that are protein and carbohydrates rich with toppings your kids like to have.
Try out high calorie smoothies and fresh juices, as kids are usually more fond of beverages than solid meals. Every child has his/her own set of likes and dislikes and should be catered accordingly.
7. Get Supplements
If nothing else works, you can always purchase off the counter supplements for weight gain that contain a combination of nutrients your child is lacking. Supplements are usually available in powdered form and can be included in milkshakes or cereals.
Contact your child’s pediatrician to find out the best supplements for him/her. This is especially effective for children who are not big eaters.
Always remember that feeding in excess is never the key to weight gain as it comes with its own consequences. A balanced diet with food items only help to gain weight if your child avoids junk. Make sure that healthy snacks are always available in your house so that children avoid junk as much as possible. Making changes as small as in presenting food creatively can also help in making children with smaller appetites eat more.