How to Put Underweight Child On Healthy Kilos? Follow These Tips
Created by Tanuja Sodhi Updated on Feb 16, 2021
While there is a buzz about the detriments of obesity amidst children, there are parents who find themselves on the other side of the scale. They are concerned about their child being underweight. This may lead to force-feeding the child at times. And does it do any good? Far from it! For the hapless child, mealtimes just turn into a battlefield.
‘If I don’t force-feed her then how will she put on weight? How will she look healthy?’, is a common concern among parents with an underweight child. You can relax about your child’s weight if she is an active child. She is probably blessed with a good metabolism and burns calories faster than others. Most underweight children put on some weight once their eating habits change or as they grow.
How Do I Know For Sure If My Child Is Underweight?
There’s only one sure shot way – a trip to the doctor. The pediatrician will check these factors-
- Overall health, and whether your child has been sick recently
- Eating habits
- Are the parents very thin? There’s the genetic factor to be considered
- Has your child recently had a growth spurt and grown taller? This can make him appear thin for a while
The BMI is then calculated, and if your child is below the fifth percentile, he is considered underweight
How Do I Help My Underweight Child Put On Healthy Kilos?
A couple of spoons are enough to get her started on a new food.
- Explore calorie dense foods such as-
- full-fat milk, fresh cream, paneer, cheese, milk shakes and yoghurt smoothies, cheese balls
- peanut butter
- eggs - scrambled egg with added milk or fresh malai
- stuffed parantha or boiled and mashed potato with melted cheese
- full-fat milk based puddings like rice kheer, fruit custard, vermicelli kheer
- gajar halwa
- fruits like banana, mango, litchi, grapes
- dried fruits, trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, honey, etc
- Try feeding her good sources of protein to foster adequate growth, such as-
- fish like sardines & salmon
- soya milk, tofu
- dried beans like kabuli chana/lobia/black chana/rajma/dried peas, dals and other lentils
- vegetables like fresh beans, broccoli, spinach, okra, squash, watercress
- peanut butter (note: try little portions initially to rule out allergy)
- orange juice fortified with calcium
- Dried fruits like figs, raisins and prunes
- Prepare meals that look interesting by being creative with its presentation. Some ideas for making food more attractive are-
- Try cooking dishes in new ways. For instance: Instead of making palak aloo or dal palak every time, make spinach-cheese or corn-spinach casserole in continental style. You may add new flavors with the help of different dressings, seasonings, cheese or sauces
- Add colors by adding an assortment of vegetables such as tomato, carrot, red/yellow/green capsicum, beetroot, etc. Bright colors have an instant appeal for children
- Cut solid foods into different shapes with a cookie-cutter or corer. It adds to the appeal of the fruit/food and raises the interest level of the child
- Make stories around food (e.g. Broccoli with cheese could be a tree covered with snow)
- Offer six or seven smaller meals throughout the day instead of three big meals, especially during early years. Toddlers can be overwhelmed by big platefuls and may lose their appetite
- Don’t allow unhealthy snacking between scheduled meals as junk food can kill appetite. Avoid giving juices and high sugar foods between meals. Remember that your child will be open to trying new foods especially when hungry
- Don’t force-feed new foods as she will begin to hate them after a power struggle. Your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration
- Set a positive example. Role model by eating all the foods that you want your child to eat. Children are very likely to try foods that are being eaten and enjoyed by their parents and peers
- Make dinner a family meal where your child experiences her full family enjoying all the foods served on the table and is encouraged to try new foods
- Don’t panic and yell when your child doesn’t eat other foods. He may then associate mealtimes with stress. Be patient and give it time to resolve itself over time
- Don’t give up. It takes repeated exposure to a new food before your child may even taste it
- Don’t let him drink fluids just before and during his meals as even water can fill up a little belly, tricking your child into feeling full
In most cases, all it takes is patience before your child builds healthy meal time habits and eats well. Keep offering new foods, and encourage healthy snacking, and your little one will be back on track. Know some weight gain foods for your child.
We hope that these tips turn out to be useful for you. Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comment section below.
| Dec 23, 2013
Thank you for this post. My daughter is underweight, though she ain't fussy but eats only small quantities of food. yes patience is required here, but at times I wish she would eat well and not give me a hard time. She is an active child and i would take into account all your suggestions.
| May 16, 2014
Well written article... congrats tanuja for that. However, would just like to add that if the child is not growing/ gaining weight inspite of all your efforts to feed him and him/ her taking food appropriately, please do consult your doctor as there may be some underlying infections which may be responsible for poor appetite/ weight gain.
| Apr 12, 2015
My son is almost three and weighs only 11 kg. he s a very giod eater n full of energy n am giving everything thats mentioned above. Still he looks thin and everyone who sees him gives me tips on how to make him fat. He was premature and was just 1. 3 kgs wen born. No other concerns except that he s underweight. Any suggestions?
| May 07, 2015
My daughter is 3 years old... She is very poor in eating. When we even talk of eating food, she says: "Amma I dont want food". Also my son who is just 10 months old, he started telling no to food even at this stage... Starts crying when food is fed to him and keeps the food in the mouth... not able to make him eat, even while showing all kinds of plays. Please suggest me some way out to relieve me from this...
| May 07, 2015
Gayathri does your children have their own favourite foods? I faced similar issues with my child, what worked for me was to mix her favourite food from time to time, and making each meal an enjoyable family time chit chatting, talking to each other and having fun while eating. It's a clear no-no in my house to eat with the TV on.
| May 23, 2015
I have twins. baby boy and baby girl. they above two years old. my daughter mostly have the problem of constipation as she is very choosy about food and fruits. plz suggest. my son is too weak as he is even not able to sit at the age of two and half. need the advice of experts. plzzz
| May 29, 2015
Very good information.. Mu son is 3 yrs old n he uses to take food in very small. Especially no to any kins of vegetables. We r not solid vegetarian family but not added nonveg in our daily meal. He used to eat roti with jam or ketchup. So i used to made vege roti for him. But i think its not enough nutrition suppliment for him. I tries almost all mentioned here but in vain.. i jusr crossed my fingers when he started eating vegies.
| Jul 03, 2015
Hi tanuja... Ur suggestions were very valuable.. But my daughter is two years n is allergic to wheat eggs n rava.. If I feed her any of dis she poos three to four times a day... If I feed only rice based food with veggies she poos only one r times a day.. Wat to do... N other thing she doesn't chew food she only swallows it.. Food shld b very soft otherwise she vomits... Feeding her is really tough for me.. She suggest me an alternative...
| Jul 04, 2015
Hi tanuja, My daughter is almost 4yrs but weighing only 11. 5kg. she don't like any food. she used to keep food in her mouth for long time so it takes more time to feed her anything. have tried many foods which you have mentioned. please suggest me an alternative.
| Jul 07, 2015
Hi tanuja nice suggestions. my daughter is 4yrs 6 Mnths she weights 13,5kgs. my issue is she doesnt eat lots but quantity is less .but she is very active .ya she is allergic to cold .any fruits lik bannana or pommegranate she takes she catches cold. can u tell me anythin else which helps hef to be healthy
| Jul 07, 2015
I am priya having two kids both are very lean and thin. Ist one is 6 and half year and 2nd one is 4 and half. Ist one is having synus and mild asthma complaint. So i am avoiding to give citrus fruits and cooling item . What sall i do for her to get a healthy life and to become fat.
| Jul 08, 2015
Hi My daughter is active and take minimal food but show interest in food. she is 13 months old and feed only mother's milk. Problem has arisen that she has not put weight and height since six seven month. Should she is having some infection or.... what should I do?kindly guide me. she dosennt take food forcefully and vomate immediately
| Jul 22, 2015
Thanks for the information it's a great boost. Mine lo is 13 months and gets distracted most of the time during mean to play or simply refuses to eat. Her height is good but she has been on borderline for weight measure since birth. I have started solids as per pediatrician's advice since 4 months. She is Lil underweight. Please share some recipes names and exact food items that are good for gaining weight. Can I give bread, cheese like things to her. She is just 13 months.
| Aug 05, 2015
My daughter will be 6 this sep. N doesn't try any new food or creatively presented food even.... hv tried everything but she doesn't want to eat.... she weighs 20 ks only n is a tall baby ..so looks very thin. pls suggest something that adds muscle to her body .m really worried
| Aug 06, 2015
My daughter iz 1 yr 9 mnthz nd she dnt have her meal properly only one or two bite then she splits of the food frm her mouth for her I try many different types of fofood so tha she can have it properly I mean like dal khichidi nd etc . Bt she refuse to eat dat also nd there iz a not a single day when she had finished her whole food .
| Aug 06, 2015
Please suggest me wat to do and and recently she was not feeling well nd she had severe fever and within two she felt very weakness she dnt had dat much capacity to walk properly . so please help me out she iz very weak nd even not having complete food .so wat can I do.