Reasons Why Child Is Not Gaining Weight, When to Worry & Weight Gain Food?

Debashree Bhattacharya
1 to 3 years

Created by Debashree Bhattacharya
Updated on Nov 19, 2019

Reasons Why Child Is Not Gaining Weight When to Worry Weight Gain Food
Reviewed by Expert panel

If a child is not achieving appropriate weight in proportion to height, the child may be malnourished. There is no denying the fact that poor weight gain is a common problem observed in children. Parents often visit their children's pediatrician regarding this problem. Sometimes parents notice that the child is not growing well or their weight gain graph is not satisfactory at all. Doctors may describe a particular child as "failing to thrive" or "malnourished."

Here, an active mom Debashree shares about when to worry about weight, the reason behind if your child is not gaining weight, healthy foods that are helpful for gaining weight in children.

When A Drop in Weight Is A Concern?

I personally feel if a child is active and playful, we should not worry too much about his / her weight because sometimes toddlers lose weight as they become more active. In such circumstances, their weight may drop in relation to their height, but the child will still continue to progress at a normal rate for his / her age. Read here ...

  • If there is a significant and sudden drop in weight, we may consider it concerning. In this situation, the child should be taken care of by a medical professional and a proper diagnosis should be done.
  • A child with persistent poor weight gain despite an increase in caloric intake may require admission to the hospital to observe weight and feeding trends, and for testing and evaluation by a medical professional. 

Reasons Why A Child May Not Growing Well?

The following can be one of the cause(s) if your child is not gaining the recommended weight. Read carefully...

  • The most common reason is an inadequate intake of calories. This can occur when a child is not interested in eating due to variety of reasons, or when there is a lack of understanding by the parents regarding the caloric needs of the child. Lack of proper nutritious food also can be another reason. Taking of inadequate portion of food is another cause behind this problem.
  • A child may also not feed well if he or she has been suffering from oral sensitivity or some neurological issues. Such problems may affect their ability to chew or swallow food properly. 
  • Sometimes, a child cannot keep formula food or normal food down due to excessive vomiting. This may be due to severe acid reflux. Most infants with acid reflux improve gradually, and their growth continues without any issues in the future. 
  • A child with the inability to digest food due to poor capacity of digestion may not gain weight well. In this case, parents report their children to have loose, foul-smelling and greasy stools.
  • In some situations, a child may burn too many calories. If he or she has an over-active Thyroid gland, burning off too many calories is a very striking condition.
  • Additionally, some children may have genetic disorders or kidney disorders that affect weight gain and require evaluations by specialists.
  • Please be aware of the food allergies of your toddler. A child with lactose intolerance will never gain weight if his/her diet chart is marked by milk products mainly. 

Weight Gain Foods For Children

How to gain weight for kids? There are some foods that are really excellent for healthy weight gain in toddlers. Try to incorporate these food items as many as possible:

1. Dairy Butter:

It is probably the richest source of healthy fat. Just make sure you stick to this one in moderation and avoid going overboard, adding heaps of butter to everything that your child eats.

2. Nut Butters:

Nut kinds of butter, like peanut butter and almond butter, are a rich source of unsaturated fats and proteins, that could be great when it comes to weight gain for.

3. Milk & Cream:

Milk is a good natural source of protein and carbohydrates. Make sure your child has at least 2 glasses of milk a day. You can include this in different forms such as milkshakes, cereals or smoothies (if your toddler is a fussy eater). Your child’s cereal or fruit salad can be served with fresh cream, but, be sure about the brand of the products. Homemade is much better. 

4. Eggs:

Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin A and Vitamin B12. These nutrients are an essential part of the growth of a toddler. You can introduce eggs into your child’s everyday meals in several innovative ways. Many people believe that an egg in a day will actually eliminate the need for supplementary vitamins. **Please ask your child's doctor before giving an egg daily to your child. 

5. Bananas:

Bananas provide essential carbohydrates that help your kid put on some ‘healthy fat.’ What’s best is the fact that bananas are very easy to include in the diet chart of your child. You can mix it in milkshakes or puddings along with dark chocolate and cream.

6. Avocados:

Avocados are another great pick for underweight children since they are rich in fats and calories- both of which are needed for a growing child. They are also rich in nutrients, which makes them an obvious healthier choice over other fatty foods. Use ripe avocado pulp as spreads or dips.

7. Chicken:

Protein is important when it comes to building muscle, and that’s why chicken is a great option for underweight children. Easily available and more affordable than other types of meat, chicken is so versatile and delicious that you can add it in rice, soups, stews and what not. 

8. Potatoes:

If you’re attempting to gain weight, your diet must contain at least 40% carbohydrates, and what could be a better source of this nutrient than potatoes. Potatoes contain amino acids like arginine and glutamine, which makes them a healthy weight gaining foods for babies and toddlers. However, too much consumption of fried potatoes is not considered healthy at all.

9. Lean Red Meat:

Lean red meats like lamb or beef steak are a great natural source of iron and fat, both of which your child requires for his proper growth and development. Stick to fresh cuts and steer clear from processed and cured meats, which may harbor harmful food additives/preservatives.

10. Tropical Fruits:

Fruits and veggies should make up for a good portion of your kid’s diet. Papayas, mangoes, pineapples, and others are rich in natural sugars that give the body energy and helps promote healthy weight gain. Whip up a fruit salad or a glass of fresh fruit juice for your toddler. It is better to give them a delicious fruit salad in the evening and a glass of juice after lunch.

11. Oats:

Another food that indirectly causes weight gain in babies is oats. Oats is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in manganese, magnesium, thiamine, and phosphorus. Oats is the only cereal containing legume like protein. Oats can be given as Oats Porridge, Oats Kheer, Apple Oats Porridge, Oats pancake, Oats fruit Dosa.

12. Dry Fruits:

Dry fruits include almond, pistachio, fig, cashew are energy-dense and non-fattening. The dry fruits can be powdered and mixed in almost all the foods, other forms by which it can be given are almond milk, dry fruit snack bar, dry fruit laddu.

13. Olive Oil:

Olive oil has high monosaturated fat than other oils and is a healthy option over other vegetable oils. The baby’s food can be prepared with virgin olive oil. *Please consult your child's doctor before cooking food with olive oil.

14. Ghee:

Our Desi Ghee is one of the best weight gaining food sources. Start with a few drops of ghee at first and slowly increase the quantity. Ghee can sometimes be very heavy for the baby, so please be moderate in its usage. For best results, make your own homemade ghee that is free of preservatives and chemicals.

15. Soya Chunks and Soya Milk:

Soya Chunks and Soya milk are very nutritious and excellent for gaining a healthy weight. Children with lactose intolerance are often advised to have soya milk as substitute in specific cases.

Immediate Weight Gain Plans Towards Your Child

These are a few steps we parents need to take if child is not gaining his/her weight well... 

  •  Consult a doctor to rule out the possibility of any latent illness in your child for his/her low weight gain.
  • If we eat healthily, our children also observe and follow us. So start eating together as soon as possible. 
  • Start serving food to your toddlers in colorful plates and cups. It will make them happy and they will enjoy having food from those plates and cups. 
  • Overeating and overfeeding, both are harmful. Plan your toddler's diet chart keeping in mind his/her height, age, activity pattern and metabolism.

The Ongoing Action Plans For Parents:

  1. Give lukewarm water time to time to your toddler for better digestion and metabolism. 
  2. Engage your toddler in a lot of physical activities. It will improve their physical health and metabolism also.
  3. Weight gain should take place through a healthy diet. So, the inclination towards fast food must not be encouraged for gaining weight. 
  4. We have to keep in mind that our toddlers have stronger taste buds than us. So, tasteless food is a big 'No' if we want them to be interested in their food.
  5. Remember, just eating alone will not get a child to gain weight. If your child appears sickly or malnourished, then it is best to consult a doctor who will be able to give a more personalized diet plan.

So, this is my overview of how to help toddlers gain weight. Please, share your own point of view with us. Also, don't forget to share your valuable feedback in the comment section below. 


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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| Nov 19, 2019

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| Nov 22, 2019


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