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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. It is not a cause for concern. Some children have a high metabolic rate and burn calories faster. So, 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 the development of their brains and hormones.
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 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. Breastfeeding is needed up to six months for the child to get maximum nutrition and gain weight. 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.
2. Cereals/ Chapattis /Boiled Vegetables
At about two years of age, you can start with finger foods that your child can eat by himself. Try feeding some breakfast cereal like cornflakes 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.
Banana, chikoo (sapota), mango, custard apple are some great choices of food that can be given as cut fruits or added to milkshakes, custard or ice cream. You can make smoothies with these fruits sprinkled with honey powdered nuts and curds. Bananas are a natural source of energy and carbohydrates, containing 105 calories.
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 one serving of each of these vegetables every day. Peas are rich in vitamins and dietary fibre and a great source of food for high calories.
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.
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 cholesterol, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B6 and B12. Fish can be added to curries, dosa or sandwiches. Chicken can be served as a stew or soup or added to rice in the form of curry.
7. Paneer & Cheese
You can make thick paneer at home with whole milk. Chop these into bite-size pieces and offer 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 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
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.
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 toddlers weight gain, avocado tastes great in soups, dips, sauces, spreads and smoothies. The soft and pulpy texture appeases kids.
A great Indian food for weight gain in toddlers, ragi is served in porridge form to babies from at the age of 3 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
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.
12. Peanut Butter
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.
13. Olive Oil
Olives are rich in oil, which are dense in good fat. So if you want your baby to put on some weight, try cooking their food in olive oil to see some amazing results.
Peaches are rich in Vitamin A, dietary fibre, niacin and a great source of Vitamin C. You can puree peaches and serve in the form of milkshakes and smoothies.
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 it. Home-made ghee is the best, so try to use it while cooking curries and other recipes for your toddler.
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.
17. Whole Wheat
Whole wheat is also another great ingredient for digestion with low fat. You can use whole wheat and make pancakes, porridge and chapatis for your baby. Alternatively, broken wheat or dalia can also be used to make porridge with some milk.
Oats are high in magnesium, thiamine, phosphorus and manganese. It is low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Oats can be whipped into porridge, kheer or pancakes for toddlers. Top the porridge with some dry fruits and nuts for an enhanced taste.
19. Lentils Like Moong Dal and Udad Dal
Moong dal and urad dal are powerhouses of calcium, protein and EFA that help to develop the brain. Moong dal can be added to kichdi with rice and topped with a dollop of ghee. Toss in some vegetables to meet their daily servings. Udad dal can be used to make idlis, a healthy steamed food rich in carbohydrates and protein.
20. 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.
- Avoid sugary drinks like sweetened juices and shakes, cola, etc., which are full of empty calories that can lead to fat gain
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 the diet with sugary and fried food to help kids increase weight. This will destroy the appetite for tasty and nutrition-rich food.