According to research, around 165 million children, under the age of five, are malnourished. Malnourishment accounts for at least half of all childhood deaths around the globe. To determine the normal growth of your children you should keep a track of child’s weight regularly. Anything that causes the child to lose weight rapidly can be a matter of concern. It is normal for the children to lose 3 to 7% of the weight in first few days of life which they gain back by the end of the second week. In the first six months a baby should gain 1 pound weight every month and by the end of 1st year he should have the weight thrice the weight he has at the time of birth. If the child continues to get weaker with no apparent cause you should consult a paediatrician to get the child assessed for any underlying cause. If weight loss is the only problem it can be copped up by adding a few food options in child’s diet.
To encourage healthy weight gain include calorie rich foods in a child’s diet. Here are the few food groups that can help the baby gain weight.
Breast milk and formula milk
Breast milk is baby’s complete diet for first six months. Baby should be breastfed every 2 to 3 hours, which means at least feeding 8 times or more in a day. Make sure that the baby is fed fully because the hind milk that comes at the end from breast has a greater nutritional values than the milk that comes first. Mothers should include foods in her diet that can increase breast milk production and meet the nutritional needs of mother as well as of the baby. Consuming fenugreek seeds, lentils, oatmeal and chia seeds can help in enhancing the breast milk production. Incorporating formula milk in a baby’s diet can be a good choice to maximize the number of calories that a child needs in a day. Choice of formula milk should be made after consulting with a paediatrician. But always remember that formula milk is never an alternative for the breast milk, but it can be used in combination with breastfeeding or sometimes can be used as a complete diet for children younger than 6 months of age.
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Solid foods intake
Once the baby steps out of the first six months period, he can be fed solid foods in a limited quantity. This is the right time to feed the baby with nutrient and calorie rich foods. Such as
Children up to 9 months of age develop a better tolerance for solids and semi solids. Oatmeal is a good option when it comes to including milk and carbohydrates both in a diet simultaneously. It is better to cook the blended oats in water, then add a little amount of formula milk. Once the baby develops the tolerance to eating cereals slightly thicken them by increasing their consistency. Oatmeal is a rich source of fibres such as beta glucan it promotes the growth of good bacteria of gut and encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. To add flavour in the oatmeal a spoon of pureed fruit can be added in it.
Nut butters such as peanut butter and almond butter are rich in fats. Researches suggest that fats are needed in greater quantity by infants than the adults because fats are the building component of their brain and nervous system. Special care is needed while feeding nut butters to babies because they can cause allergies in children. While giving nut butters to the child always watch for signs of allergy if there is any symptom such as hives, erythema or rashes on baby’s body stop giving him a nut butter specially peanut butter till he gets older and develops immunity against allergens. One take on this matter advocates feeding the children with such butters so they can develop immunity against allergens that will protect them from getting allergies in the upcoming years. However, nut butters shouldn’t be consumed directly from the jar, it should be better blended with water or formula milk to decrease its thickness. Furthermore, it can be added into oatmeal.
Mashed Bananas and Apple
Mashed banana is one of those healthiest options that many mothers regularly feed their child with. Banana is a good source of potassium which improves the cardiac function and muscle movement. Apple is another good option which is rich in fibres and Iron. Fibres prevent the child from getting constipation and iron is an important part of blood. Applesauce is another option for feeding the toddler which is a good source of vitamin C which is required for immune system development.
Potatoes are good source of carbohydrates. Boiled potatoes that are soften by mashing them well can serve as weight gaining food for your toddler. Always make sure that the potatoes are not hard and they should not be given more than one to three spoons. Potatoes are a great transitional food from milk to solid. But always remember that consuming partly cooked potatoes or more than a certain quantity can result in abdominal discomfort of the child so proper care should be taken in this regard.
Eggs are protein packed food that can be incorporated in diet of a 9 month old baby or elder. Eggs can be scrambled or boiled to make them edible for babies. Egg is another allergy causing food so it should be consumed with care. Immediately consult a paediatrician if your baby present with signs of allergy. Eggs can be consumed with other foods such as rice, cheese and vegetables.
Toddlers need at least 30-40% of their total caloric intake from good fat. Olive oil is a very rich source of healthy fats. ¼ or ½ teaspoon of olive oil can be added in a bowl of soup or soak some whole grain bread in oil.
When do you need to consult a doctor regarding child’s weight
Children’s weight fluctuate as they grow up. Weight loss itself is not a matter to worry about unless the child is showing signs of discomfort. If the child is active and achieving the developmental milestones normally, then there is nothing much to worry about. However of the child is lethargic, showing signs of developmental delay and cries a lot, then you should immediately consult a paediatrician.
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Early year’s food intake can have an impact on growth of a child. Incomplete and improper nutrition can retard the growth and leads to major syndromes due to nutritional deficiencies. For toddlers follow the growth chart and look for the abnormal signs and be very vigilant about child’s health. Insufficient food intake can leave a child with lifelong eating disorders which can prove fatal in later years of life.