The most common query that we get from our readers is that their baby is not gaining enough weight and how to make them gain more weight. The important thing is to remember that thin is not necessarily unhealthy and fat is not necessarily healthy. On the contrary, being over-weight in childhood can lead to obesity in adulthood. But, if your child is healthy and her doctor has not asked you to avoid fatty foods, it is good to include fat-rich foods in limited quantities in your child’s diet. There is no need to be fat-phobic when it comes to children. Fat is an important nutrient and toddlers need fat for development of brain and hormones.
Here are top 15 healthy food items which can help your child to gain weight:
Breastmilk is the best food for baby till the age of 6 months and even till 1 year. Below 6 months, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended and is the best for weight gain in baby.
In my own experience, my daughter was underweight at birth. She was in 10-12 percentile at birth. After a couple weeks, she lost a little more weight and we and the doctor were quite worried about it. My doctor recommended me to express and breastfeed after she has stopped feeding too. He also recommended increasing the frequency of breastfeeding. By following these advices, my daughter actually gained weight and was in 50th percentile around 6 month mark. She, of course did not gain weight at the same rate, once solids were introduced. So, breastmilk is the best thing if you want your baby to gain weight. Ensure that you baby empties the breast completely before you move him/her to the other breast, so that s/he gets the fat-rich hind milk.
Dried fruits are not only delicious, but also a healthy source of extra calories for those wanting to gain weight. Raisins, dried apricots, figs, dates are great for snacking. Include these in your child’s halwa, milkshakes etc.
Whole Fat Milk
Give only full fat milk and cream to your under-weight child. Add full cream milk to your child’s porridges, halwa for extra calories in addition to giving as a drink.
Stay away from toned milk or skimmed milk when it comes to serving milk for your child, unless has been specifically directed.
Full Fat curd/ yogurt
Curd can be added to baby’s diet around 7 months of age. Set curd at home using full fat milk and give the baby same. Curd is very easy to digest and can be given to babies even though milk is to be given after 12 months.
Always choose full fat dairy products for your child, if you want him/her to gain weight. You can make delicious smoothies using full fat yogurt. Add fruits like banana, mangoes, cheeku to make yummy flavoured yogurt, which will be loved by babies as well as older children.
Full Fat Cheese / Paneer
Full fat paneer or cheese is a great addition to your baby’s/ toddler’s diet. It is rich in protein and usually liked by most children. Avoid using processed cheese. Instead, use homemade paneer or unprocessed cheese.
Do check out 5 ways to give paneer to babies
There is no need to be scared of ghee and butter when it comes to children as long as their doctor has not advised against them. Add ghee or butter to halwa, porridge, khichdi, pulao etc. Smear butter to their sandwiches.
You can start adding few drops of ghee to your baby’s food after 7 months. Ghee has now been acknowledged as a superfood by nutritionists world over and there is no need to avoid it in the diet of our kids.
Avocado is one of the richest source of vegetarian fat. It is also called butter fruit as its pulp is buttery in texture. Avocados can be used to make mashes, dips and salads.
Avocado can also be given to babies below 1 year to include healthy fat in their diet. If you are not sure how to include it in your child’s diet, do check out 5 avocado recipes for babies and kids.
Bananas are not only delicious but also known to aid in weight gain. Use these naturally sweet fruits to sweeten your child’s kheer, milk shakes etc.
Bananas are one of the best first foods and can be given to babies as early as 6 months. You can give this as a simple pureed or mashed banana as a first food ad later add it to porridges, cereals etc. for baby.
Just like bananas, mangoes too are naturally sweet and help in weight gain. Mangoes can be given to children after 1 year of age.
Jaggery or gur is a trational, non-refined sugar in India and other parts of Asia. It is commonly prepared from sugarcane juice and date palm. It is healthier than refined sugar and used in plenty of traditional recipes. Add organic jaggery to your child’s diet to add some extra calories.
Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils. Add it to your baby’s salads, soups, pulao, pastas to add some calories to your child’s food.
Broccoli Soup Image credit: healthveda.com
Nuts & seeds
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts and seeds like sesame, pumpkin, melon seeds etc. are rich in healthy fats as well as fiber and protein. Try to include these in your child’s diet as snacks or as healthy dishes like badam milk, tahini, pesto sauce etc. Nuts and seeds butter like peanut and almond butter is also great source of healthy fat. See how to include nuts to your baby’s diet.
Here is an easy recipe to make your own peanut butter
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein and can be introduced in baby’s diet around 8-9 months. It is recommended that one should introduce egg yolk first and egg white later around 1 year of age, as egg white may sometimes cause allergy.
You can give whole eggs to toddlers and older kids in many ways. Eggs can be given boiled, fried, as omelettes, in pancakes and french toasts.
If you are non-vegetarian, you can add chicken to baby’s diet around 9 months of age. You an give chicken as a soup, mash or as chicken rice.
Fish is a healthy protein to include in a child’s diet and also helps in healthy weight gain. Fish can be introduced as a mash/ puree as well as soups and as fish with rice. Ideally, river fishes should be introduced around 9 months of age and shell fishes should be avoided till 1 year of age.