Food and Nutrition Pregnancy

19 Foods to Help Baby Fetal Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Puja Sharma Vasisht
Pregnancy

Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht
Updated on Oct 08, 2019

19 Foods to Help Baby Fetal Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Reviewed by Expert panel

Congratulations if you are pregnant and progressing well till the time your doctor tells you that your baby’s weight is not increasing as it should. India has been a country with one of the highest share (35%) of Low Birth Weight and preterm births in the world. Added to this worrisome fact is that premature birth and low birth weight accounts for more than 40% of overall child mortality in India. Therefore, it is really important for Indians (the entire south Asian region) expecting moms to take good care of fetal weight growth in the pregnancy months.

The fetus is totally dependent on the mother for all its nutrition needs. A pregnant mother needs to take care of her diet to ensure a sufficient supply of blood and nutrients, to the fetus. There are studies that suggest a role of good nutrition during pregnancy to help in fetal weight.

Which Foods to Help Baby Grow in Womb?

One of the studies in this area suggests that the most promising results come from the consumption of whole foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats. These might be beneficial toward producing an infant of appropriate birth weight.

Similarly, another study points to the fact that the contribution of common nutrients or other nutritional factors present in milk and protein promotes fetal growth. Therefore, it emphasizes the importance of maternal nutritional intake and the availability of nutrients contributing to adequate fetal growth. [Read - Increase Baby Fetal Weight in Pregnancy]

You don’t have to eat for two people but eat sensibly and healthy to ensure that your unborn baby is growing and developing in a healthy manner. As an expecting mom, you need to have certain foods more to ensure that both your baby’s and your nutritional needs are met. 

Must-Have Foods for Adequate Fetus Growth

So, here is a compiled list of foods to eat or consume in pregnancy in order to increase baby fetus gain weight. Also, siting the studies below, may help in fetal growth for your unborn baby.

#1. Milk

The study suggests, a minimum intake of 200-500 ml per day, may have a positive effect on fetal weight. Milk not only provides good quality protein but is a good source of calcium; a nutrient equally important for your baby. Milk can be taken in plain form. If you are not too keen to take plain milk, you may take it as milkshakes or add it to any porridge-like oats/broken wheat /breakfast cereal, etc.

#2. Curd or Yogurt (Dahi) 

Another form in which milk can be taken is curd or yogurt. Adding a bowl of curd to your meals not only ensures a milk product, which is rich in protein but also helps keep your gut health as it is a source of lactic acid bacteria with probiotic properties. It can be taken in plain or raita form or even as lassi (buttermilk). 

#3. Cottage Cheese (Paneer) or Cheese 

Milk can also be included in the diet cottage cheese/cheese. Taking 40-50 grams of low-fat paneer/cheese is equivalent to a glass of milk. These can be added to foods like pasta, sandwich, salad or stuffed roti. Avoid cheese if you are having high blood pressure in pregnancy. Take low-fat homemade paneer instead

#4. Legumes

Another important food group is legumes which are not only rich in proteins (especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan) but they also provide much-needed iron, folic acid and other nutrients like fiber. Do include, at least two servings of these in your daily diet to take care of your protein intake

#5. Pulses

Pulses besides the usually cooked dal, you may also add pulse to the soup or add to veggies like bottle gourd/tori/spinach/chulai. A combination like this can take care of both iron and protein requirements

#6. Sprouts 

Black Chana/Mung/lobia sprouts can also be included as they not only provide proteins but these are rich in iron. Sprouting the content of vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin C, etc may increase manifold. These sprouts can be blenderized to get a smooth paste and can be made into different types of cheela/pancake

#7. Soybean

Another important food in this group is Soybean. Soybean can be included in various forms in your diet like soy-nuggets, tofu, soymilk or even soybean flour. Soybean is one of the richest sources of protein for vegetarians. Soybean itself is rich in iron and if consumed in the form of tofu or bean curd, becomes a good source of calcium too. This is because soymilk is coagulated with calcium salts. Tofu can easily be used instead of paneer in most of its recipes. You can have tofu tikka or a stir-fried tofu

#8. Peas, Beans

these may be taken both in dried or fresh form. They not only provide protein but B complex vitamins, folic acid and minerals like Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Copper. All these are required by the pregnant mother to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Besides, it has fiber which helps in constipation, common in pregnancy. These may be added to a variety of foods like soups, pasta, pulao, salads, etc.

#9. Chicken

If you have non-vegetarian food habits then you may include lean meats like chicken/low-fat fish. Proteins found in these foods are of superior quality. Lean meat/chicken/fish provide proteins that help in cell and muscle development in the baby. Besides protein, these foods also provide hemoglobin iron. Our body much easily absorbs iron in haem form which in turn helps in pregnancy-induced anemia.

#10. Fish

Including fish also has the advantage of providing essential fats in the form of omega-3 fatty acids. They are required for proper brain and overall development of the baby. You may go for lean meat as they are the best source of high-quality protein sans the fats

#11. Eggs

For a vegetarian mother, another option for an equally good source of proteins instead of flesh foods is an egg. Eggs especially are a source of good quality proteins and vitamins A, D and minerals like iron, etc. In fact, eggs have the best protein (amino acid) profile and hence the proteins present in it are taken as reference protein. That means the quality of proteins of other foods is matched against egg proteins. They are a good source of vitamins & minerals, especially folic acid, choline & iron. These help to keep the amniotic membranes strong and help in preventing birth defects in the fetus

#12. Green Leafy Vegetables 

Especially dark green ones like sarson, chulai, bathua, chana saag, cauliflower, kale, leaves are rich in iron. Iron requirements are high during pregnancy to meet the growing needs of the fetus & maternal tissues

#13. Spinach

Spinach is also a good source of folic acid. Folic acid is crucial for the brain development of the fetus. It also protects the baby from neural tube disorders. Do take green leafy vegetable minimum three times a week to get loads of vitamins, minerals & antioxidants

#14. Broccoli

 This is another vegetable besides green leafy ones, which provides iron, beta carotene, vitamin E and Vitamin K

#15. Carrots, Sweet Potato Pumpkin

These are another set of vegetables to be included in your diet. These vegetables are particularly rich in beta-carotene; a form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for the development of healthy eyes, lungs and skin of your baby

#16. Citrus Fruits 

Especially orange is rich in vitamin C and folic acid (deficiency of folic acid may cause neural tube defects). These are also good sources of Thiamin and Potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, which helps in avoiding constipation common in pregnancy. Another important role vitamin C is to help in iron absorption especially from vegetarian diets. Besides citrus fruits, you may also include amla, vegetables like red, green and yellow capsicum, to provide vitamin C.

#17. Nuts 

Nuts like almonds, peanuts may also be added to your diet to provide micronutrients like zinc, iron, copper, folic acid. If taken in between your meals, they can be an excellent snack to munch on! These are a reasonably good source of proteins and healthy fats, ensuring a healthy weight gain of the fetus.

#18. Whole Grain Cereals

Last but not least, include whole grain cereals in your diet besides your regular staple. Whole grain like Dalia, Brown rice, Millets should replace the refined cereals in pregnant women’s diet. These are packed with nutrients like iron, selenium, magnesium and sufficient fiber besides carbohydrates. Including these in your snacks recipes instead of refined cereals (like maida, cornflour), would definitely help to bridge the gap created with the increased requirements of pregnancy and supply with an imbalanced diet

#19. Supplements

Iron, folic acid supplementation may also increase the birth weight of the infant

When to Begin Monitoring Fetal Weight?

The earlier the better, though there are no set standards for fetal weight growth. Clinically fetal growth is divided into two parts: 

  1. The first half of the pregnancy: Prominent growth in head circumference, weight, and length

  2. The second half of the pregnancy: Growth levels off for the fetus as it takes the shape of a functional body

You should start the clinical evaluation as soon as you realize the pregnancy to avoid any natural risks to the fetus's growth. The next step is obviously about nutrition and ensuring that a sufficient amount of it is passing through to the fetus. This can be ascertained in the regular visits to your gynac.

Is it Important to Know Fetal Weight?

Fetal weight is the primary deciding factor for the obstetrician. It helps in deciding the time and mode of delivery for the baby as well as avoiding any complications like premature delivery.

Thus, regularly checking the fetal growth would be a good way to keep a check on the nutritional needs of both mom and the baby. A healthy mom on a nutritious diet can ensure a healthy birth without complications towards happy motherhood.


Disclaimer: The above list of foods is only suggestive and may not always lead to fetal weight gain, though these foods might help in weight gain. In case the fetal weight gain is going slow, please take the advice of your gynecologist.

Frequently Asked Questions
What foods to avoid during pregnancy?
Seafood and fish that contain mercury like king mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish should be kept off your pregnancy diet. Unpasteurized milk and milk products, fruit juices, etc.
Alcohol: alcohol has been known to increase the chances of miscarriage and still-birth, better to avoid in the first trimester.
Raw eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of protein and should be a part of a pregnancy diet. However, undercooked eggs should be avoided.
Herbal tea, under-cooked meat, unwashed fruits, vegetables, and street foods are suggested to avoid.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Jan 12, 2018

There are various foods that help in increasing baby's weight like milk, curd,yogurt, green leafy vegetables, carrots sweet potato,vitamin,pulse, and many more and even after giving these nutrition your child is not gaining weight then you must consult a child specialist. For more information please visit-http://www.parasbliss.com/

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| Aug 18, 2018

Hi am into 36weeks of pregnancy i found my baby weight is 2. 3kg am eating sprouts egg spinach prenetal vitamins still i dont see increase in my weight n baby weight i asked to the doctr but the doctrs are not saying anything as we are in UNited states they are telling asian people are small they dont hv much weight

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| Oct 23, 2019

Eat chicken, meat Ghundam roti Cereals

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| Sep 04, 2019

am in 32week my fetal weight is 1780gms, how to increase weight

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| Apr 19, 2020

18 month baby food

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| Jun 27, 2020

Pls send 11 month baby wait gain fait chart

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