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We usually find plump children adorable. Yes, those chubby cheeks and stout arms might look adorable. But too much of chubbiness that does not meet the normal weight guidelines for babies can be a very worrying sign….
Excessive baby fat is an indication of childhood obesity. This should not be taken lightly by the parents as it might pose risk for the health and development of the child. Obesity can lead to multiple health problems in the future such as blood pressure, inadequate development, and psychological side effects. While it is important for our baby to gain weight, it is also important that this weight gain is HEALTHY!
10 Tips for Weight Gain in Babies
Keep the following tips in mind to ensure that your baby gains healthy weight as per his age, but does not become obese.
1. No Eating While Watching Television
This should be strictly forbidden! The child, while busy watching TV, does not realize how much he is eating and keeps on eating. As he grows up, he is also likely to get addicted to screens and refuse to eat if they are not infront of him! Read this real life experience of a fellow mom going through a similar problem, and how she helped her child get over the TV addiction.
2. Limit Soda and Juice
Excessive amount of soda, juice and sugar consumption should be limited for babies and toddlers. It is best to refrain from added sugar and salt in diet for babies under the age of 1. Not only do these items increase sugar-fuelled problems such as weight gain, they can also affect your child’s teeth.
3. No Unsupervised/Unhealthy Snacking
We often think that a few bites of French Fries or a taste of potato chips should be harmless for the baby. However, healthy eating habits start early in life. Exposing your baby to unhealthy snacking, or letting family and relatives spoil their clean eating/diet, can mean your baby will get fussy about food as he grows up. It is best to limit/eliminate such needless snacking from the child’s daily schedule.
4. Fruits & Veggies Are Mandatory
Serving nutritious foods such a fruits, vegetables, whole grains and milk products should be consistent in your baby’s diet. Even if he is fussy about consuming these items, they cannot be compromised on. You can try out these 11 excellent tricks to make children eat fruits. Also remember that packaged fruit juice is not a good option/alternative as it is full of sugar!
5. Limit High-Fat Foods
Foods high in fat should not be served to the baby. They can exert too much pressure on his delicate digestive system and also lead to obesity. Strictly avoid foods rich in saturated fats such as biscuits, crisps, cakes and pastries.
6. Break Meals Down Through The Day
The meals your child eats should ideally be broken down into six mini meals in a day. Babies cannot handle/digest meals that are too heavy all in one go. Overfeeding can lead to digestive problems such as gas, and also increase your baby’s changes of obesity.
7. Chewing For Babies Who Have Teethed
If your baby now has a mouth full of teeth (10 months +), make sure you teach him to chew food properly. Chewing food helps break it down into easily digestible chunks that are also absorbed better by the body.
8. Ensure Physical Activity
Keep the baby active. Take him out for walks, cycling, swimming and such other physical activities which he might enjoy. Getting enough physical activity is essential for babies to keep them active, ensure their food goes down properly, and lowers chances of obesity. Over time, monitor the weight gain and experiment with various ways to keep the child active and motivated the whole day.
9. Minimal Screen Time
As a rule, also try limiting your baby’s time in front of the TV, computer and tablets throughout the day, and not just during meal-time. Experts recommend that babies under 2 get ZERO screen time. Doing this will allow incorporating more time for physical activity in the daily schedule of the infant. This will mean a fitter baby whose weight gain is healthy!
10. Ensure Adequate Sleep By Age
A very important tip to regulate your baby’s weight is to provide the child with adequate sleep. Most of the body’s metabolic functions take place when the child is asleep. Your baby will need anything from 10-16 hours of sleep – a number that reduces as he grows up. However, 8 hours of sleep every day is essential for toddlers and school-going children. If your child faces sleep problems such as waking up frequently or nightmares, please discuss this with the paediatrician.
What to Do if Your Child is Overweight
If you follow the above tips and precautions, your baby will be able to gain his right weight. His well-being will be guaranteed throughout. However, if your child tends to become overweight or obese, you should not delay in consulting the paediatrician. Managing unhealthy weight gain early in life is the best way to keep your baby healthy and fit in the future.
The doctor will conduct a simple BMI (Body Mass Index) test to see if the child crosses the ideal weight by a large amount. (You can also check this yourself using this online BMI chart) A large excess weight indicates that the child is overweight. Ideally, doctors do not recommend any strict diet or weight loss programs for children since they can prove to be harmful for the infant. He is likely to recommend healthy weight loss foods such as avocado and grapes, as well as leafy vegetables like broccoli. He will also prescribe designated physical activities such as tummy time and playing ball to regulate your baby’s weight.
In the long run, a diligent diet, patience, physical activity and an optimistic attitude will help your baby manage a healthy weight and be fit.