Low Weight Gain in Children is one of the many concerns that a parent has. When a child is born, we expect the child to be chubby, like we see in TV commercials. A child gains weight very rapidly in the first year of his life. This happens as the weight is needed for the developmental support. Ideally, a child doubles his lowest birth weight by 6 months and triples the birth weight by 1 year of age. After 1 year, the weight gain will slow down, and from now on, your baby will gain a maximum of 1-2.5 kgs per year.
Low Weight Gain in Children
Usually, in India, everyone expects children to look chubby as they grow up. We have to understand that, as the child grows, they lose their fat and chubbiness and become lean. It does not mean, they are losing weight, but what it means – they are growing old and tall.
What above has been stated is what ideally happens. But sometimes, few children do not gain weight at the required rate. There are multiple reasons for Low Weight Gain in Children which I will let you know below.
How is Underweight defined?
Image Source – https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Underweightolderchild.aspx
A baby whose weight falls under 2.5kgs falls under the underweight category. Babies falling under the category of 1.5 kgs are diagnosed as very low weight. There are charts that have been released by WHO (world health organization) for boys and girls that tell the height and weight as per the age of the child. This chart is appropriate for all races and nations alike. Also, a child is considered to have poor weight gain if he/she is unable to grow at the expected rate.
How to differentiate if your child is underweight or just thin?
When the weight of your child drops below the 5th percentile of the expected weight gain graph for her age OR her BMI has fallen below 17% – it is a matter of concern.
According to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), during the pre-teen age, a child gains an average of 6 -7 cms in height and 1.5- 3 kgs in weight every year. Any impromptu loss in weight loss should also be checked and you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.
If your child seems happy, is reaching all her milestones on time, active, eating well – then the child is just lean and there are no causes for worry.
A series of test can be run for your child, to rule out reasons for weight loss or Low Weight Gain in Children.
As the kid grows, there are phases they may not want to eat anything. This may be a growth spurt or just seasonal. Like sometimes, we adults don’t feel like eating in summer due to heat, the same case may be with children as well. This phase should go away in 1-2 weeks. If it does not and prolongs – you may want to consult your doctor regarding the same.
Reasons for Low Weight Gain in Children –
Although there can be many reasons, some of the most affecting reasons are –
Problem with digestion or absorption of food
Ineffective food intake – an imbalance of protein, carbohydrates, fats in the body
Social pressure, stress at home
Symptoms to be looked for Low Weight Gain in Children –
Low immunity, Absence from school since the child keeps falling sick
Frequent Constipation or irregular bowel movements
Not able to sleep well
Depressed, not socially active
Constant tiredness and crankiness
Children with eating disorders –
Sometimes your child may want to eat only a specific kind of food. For a while, this may be ok, but these kinds of children are at a risk of not getting enough calories, vital nutrients and minerals from the food. As a result, gradually they may start losing weight. Most common deficiencies in children with the poor eating disorder are Iron, calcium, vitamin D and zinc.
Foods that can help in weight gain –
Feed your children a protein-rich diet that consists of chicken, milk, cheese, curd, eggs and soy products. Also, carbohydrates are a wonderful source of weight gain. You can choose to give dry fruits, sweet potatoes, bananas, ragi, sathu mavu, oats, and potatoes can be given on a regular basis.
Offer nutrient-dense foods or high-calorie foods. Some nutrient-dense superfoods include – eggs, fruits, black beans, yogurt, milk, oatmeal, nuts and cottage cheese.
Bring variety in foods and encourage them to self-feed from as soon as possible. Self-fed children are better eaters, as they do not fuss much, know how much they want, and eat because they are hungry. Self-fed kids do better at independent eating. A child can start feeding himself independently from 6 months onwards. Read more about this HERE
Give choices when choosing food items. Ask your children, what they would like to have
Plan and encourage your children to participate in meal preparation. Before they leave for school, ask them, what would they like to have in lunch. Give options for varied lentils or vegetables.
Encourage them to shop and cook with you. Explain about nutrition to your children and how it affects their development.
Avoid Screen times, any distraction or talking during meal times.
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Until next time – take care, stay connected with me and God Bless
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