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It is essential for parents to be on top of their game to see if the growth chart of their baby is showing a significant rise as per their age and gender. You may find your toddler eating well, but not gaining too much weight. However, this not a cause for concern. Some children have a high metabolic rate and burn calories faster. Hence, it is important to supplement their diet with food rich in vitamins and minerals that will sustain their active lifestyle. Undernourished children tend to suffer from fatigue, irritability and slow development. A nutrient-dense diet can help them put on weight and also get the required vitamins, minerals, and proteins for steady growth. On the other hand, being overweight could lead to obesity, which could further lead to several lifestyle illnesses at a young age. Fat is necessary for a child’s diet, but it is the right kind of fat that aids development. Here are some foods that can help increase weight in toddlers.
Foods to Increase Weight in Toddlers
Toddlers will get increasingly fussy with their diet as they get independent in their ways. Parents will often find themselves dealing with picky eaters as they want a variety in their diet. Food served to toddlers must cater to their developing taste buds while providing them with the necessary nutrients to stay active and achieve a healthy growth rate. Here are a few tips to help you include different kinds of nutrient-rich food to your toddler’s diet to ensure that he remains healthy.
1. Breast Milk
Breast milk is the best food for a baby until the age of six months, and even a year. Exclusive breastfeeding is needed up to six months for the child to get maximum nutrition and gain weight and health. To feed a baby, a mother must eat food rich in protein, vitamins and minerals to increase milk supply. A lactating mother is recommended to have a powder made of cumin and fennel seeds with desi ghee, fenugreek leaves and dill leaves or other galactagogues as per traditions.
2. Cereals/ Chapattis (10 months)/ Boiled Vegetables (7 months)
At about one year of age, you can start with finger foods that your child can eat by himself. Try feeding some breakfast cereal like cornflakes/ dalia soaked in milk. You can also serve some chapati or stuffed vegetable paratha spread with ghee and cut into small pieces. If you eat meat, serve with some shredded pieces of chicken.
3. Fruits (6 months)
Banana, chikoo (sapota), mango, custard apple are some great choices of food that can be given as cut fruits after 6 months of age or added to milkshakes, custard that can be given 7 months onwards. You can make smoothies with these fruits sprinkled with powdered nuts and curd. Bananas are a natural source of energy and carbohydrates, containing 105 calories per 100 gms
Veggies don’t help a child gain weight directly but are needed to prevent constipation and digestive issues when we increase proteins to make kids gain weight. Add a lot of green leafy vegetables to your child’s diet. Spinach, fenugreek leaves, carrots, pumpkin, beans, and others are a rich source of minerals and vitamins. Try to include 3-4 serves of veggies every day. Peas are rich in vitamins and dietary fibre and a great source of food for high calories.
5. Eggs (1 year)
Eggs are rich sources of protein and beneficial in terms of adding calories, too. Eggs can be served boiled, fried or made into an omelette. Another great way to add eggs to your diet is by adding them to custard, pancakes or fillings for chapati rolls. French toast is another great option for the intake of carbohydrates and calories. Introduce eggs only after your baby completes 1 year of age. If you want to give your child eggs before that, please consult your physician.
6. Fish/Meat/Poultry (7 months)
Fish is a great source of Omega 3, which is highly beneficial for brain development and hormone production. They are rich in proteins and vitamins. Chicken is rich in niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B6 and B12. Chicken can be served as a stew or soup or added to rice in the form of curry.
7. Paneer & Cheese – (8 months)
You can make paneer at home with whole milk. Chop these into bite-size pieces and offer them as finger food to your child. An ideal snack to eat without any accompaniments, it can also be added to parathas as a filling or in curries with rice. Cheese is another food that is rich in calcium and also helps kids put on some healthy fat. Cheese slice can be had by itself or added to sandwiches, chapatis or pasta and makes a wonderful combination of taste and nutrition.
8. Dried Fruits and Nuts (1 year)
Nuts are great snacks and energy boosters, benefiting your child’s growth in many ways. Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, raisins, black currants, dates, and dried apricots are great options to include in your child’s breakfast. Try offering them nuts or dried fruits as an alternative to chocolates and candies. They will compensate for the sugar cravings and balance the nutrition intake at the same time. If starting feeding nuts before 1 year of age, please consult your dietitian or paediatrician before the same, as nuts can cause allergies.
9. Avocados (6 months)
Avocados are dense in the amount of fat and calories they possess, and this composition makes it an ideal healthy food for toddlers and kids. One of the best high-calorie food for toddler weight gain, avocado tastes great in soups, dips, sauces, spreads and smoothies. The soft and pulpy texture appeases kids.
10. Ragi (7 months)
A great Indian food for weight gain in toddlers, ragi is served in porridge form to babies from the age of 7 months. A porridge of ragi boiled in water with jaggery and ghee could help toddlers gain weight. Ragi is filling and keeps babies’ tummies full for a long time.
11. Starchy Vegetables (6 months)
Starchy vegetables like potato and sweet potato are rich in healthy fat. Potatoes are an excellent source of energy and carbohydrates, and kids love mashed potatoes and cheese. Sweet potato is rich in beta-carotene and sugar. Mashed sweet potatoes taste great with lentils, milk, cheese or even just plain. It helps increase calorie density effortlessly.
12. Peanut Butter (1 year)
if there is any family history of peanut allergy, please consult your doctor before starting feeding peanuts to your child. Peanut butter has natural oil and fat content, thereby, making it rich in calories. You could spread peanut butter on toast, biscuits, fruits and sandwiches. For toddles allergic to peanuts, try other nut spreads like hazelnut spread, almond spread or soya spread. However, make sure your child is not allergic to them.
13. Ghee (8 months)
Another important ingredient in Indian food, ghee is considered as one of the best foods to increase weight and also aid digestion. It is recommended to feed babies about one teaspoon of ghee in their food every day. Start with a few drops at first and gradually increase the quantity. Home-made ghee is the best, so try to use it while cooking curries and other recipes for your toddler.
14. Pears (6 months)
A great source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and iron, a pear can be had in the form of puree. Make a puree of apple and pear for your 3-month-old baby and top it with some cinnamon powder for additional flavour.
15. Lentils Like Moong Dal and Urad Dal (7 months)
Moong dal and urad dal are powerhouses of calcium, protein and EFA that help to develop the brain. Moong dal can be added to khichdi with rice and topped with a dollop of ghee. Toss in some vegetables to meet daily servings. Urad dal can be used to make idlis, a healthy, steamed food, rich in carbohydrates and protein.
16. Full-Fat Milk/Curd/Yoghurt
Add full-fat milk to your baby’s kheer, porridge and halwa for extra calories. Set curd from full-fat milk and serve to babies above seven months of age. You can use curd in fruits and smoothies.
Things to Remember for Healthy Weight Gain in Toddlers
- Include five portions of fruits and veggies daily.
- Give three meals with three interspersed snacks every day.
- Add plenty of fluids to their diet – six to eight cups a day which includes water, juices, soups etc. This prevents constipation.
- Avoid sugary drinks like artificially sweetened juices, cola, etc., which are full of empty calories.
Most often, it is simply a matter of increasing the calories in a child’s diet. What is important to remember is that this need not mean your child will be undernourished or unhealthy. Many parents tend to supplement their child’s diet with sugary and fried food to help kids increase weight. However, this leads to unhealthy weight gain and will destroy their appetite for tasty and nutrient-rich food.