16 Weight Gaining Food for Babies and Toddlers
New moms are often worried about their child’s weight. While most babies gain weight without any problem, you might sometimes consider adding specific food types into their diet to help them gain weight.
Starting from mother’s milk you will notice that babies and toddler benefit a lot from fat intake. Jill Castle, Parents advisor and a registered dietitian in New Canaan, says parents mistakenly give babies high-fibre, low fat diet which could be appropriate for older children but not for babies.
She says, “If you look at breast milk and infant formula, about half the calories come from fat. Babies and young children have a greater need for fats. Fat not only helps their brains and nervous systems develop normally, it also helps their bodies absorb important vitamins like A, D, E, and K.”
Before you start giving your baby oodles of butter and ghee, you should also remember that weight changes occur from month to month in children at this stage. Maintaining healthy eating habits is much more important that reaching a target weight.
There will be times when you would be disturbed by a comment made by someone regarding your baby’s weight or just distraught to see your baby a bit thinner than others of the same age. Remember that if your baby is active, sleeping well, reaching age milestone as per the doctor’s advice and looks healthy to you, then the measure on the weighing scale is not important.
Your baby may also have more bone mass or be genetically inclined to be lean, which again is unlikely to make them look bulky though they are healthy.
Instead of a specific weight, you should check for a weight range appropriate for your child’s age. If they fall in this bracket, they are neither underweight nor overweight.
Food for Weight Gain
For the first six months of a baby’s life there is nothing better than mother’s milk. But even if you are giving formula milk, the nutrient content is such that the milk is sufficient for helping your newborn gain weight each week.
As your baby is dependent on you for their nutrient needs, moms need to eat nutritious food and especially food that increases milk supply like lentils, flax seeds, garlic, chickpea, almonds, whole grain, cumin and fennel seeds.
Traditional Indian food choices like clarified butter or ghee, laddoos made of gond, coconut or dry fruit also help moms provide sufficient fat to their breastfed babies.
6 – 9 months
As babies start eating solid food, you can experiment with the following to help them gain weight.
- Banana – This fruit is packed with potassium, calcium, Vitamin K, B6 and carbohydrates. It is easy to carry and easy to feed babies anytime they are hungry. You can mash it up or serve as a shake.
- Potato or Sweet Potato – They are easy to boil and mash and can be given in pureed form or as soup to babies. The good thing is besides the carbohydrates, potatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- Lentils – Babies at this age enjoy eating a light lentil soup made up usually of moong dal. As the protein is essential for their growth, any type of pulse is good. You can also serve babies mashed khichdi which is easy to digest and a balanced food for weight gain.
- Ghee – As babies begin to lose the fat content, they were getting from breast milk from 6 months onwards, ghee is a good substitute to maintain their weight gain. You can add dollops of home-made ghee in daals, soups, khichdi or porridge to add on to the goodness.
- Yogurt – Homemade yogurt made up of full fat milk, not only provides calcium, and vitamins but also the fat in an easily digestible form.
- Ragi – Finger millet is a wonder grain when it comes to babies. You can make a ragi porridge to help them get nutrients like calcium for the bones and teeth, and fibres to avoid constipation.
- Oats – Boil ¼ cup of regular oats with 1 cup of water. You may powder the oats and then boil them for smoother consistency for babies. It is nutritious and fibre rich choice for helping babies eat well and grow well.
- Avocado – With ample carbohydrates, fats and proteins, this fruit is easily mashed and digested by babies who are beginning solid food.
While you can continue giving the above food, you can also start introducing the following for healthy weight rise.
- Eggs – Boiled eggs that have been mashed are a great source of fats and proteins for babies. You can add a dollop of butter to add to the taste.
- Whole Wheat – wheat toast, wheat germ, chappattis, mixed grain cereals have the right amount of carbohydrate and roughage for babies. The additional carbohydrate is stored as fat in the body allowing them to gain weight.
- Fruits – Fruits like apple, papaya, pear and chickoo are great to introduce at this stage. You can boil and slightly mash the pear and apples for them. Chikoo, and mangoes are known for helping gain weight.
- Fish and Chicken – Fish remains one of the healthiest protein food to eat for anyone. As early as you can encourage your child to eat fish, it will only help them gain great nutrients for the body and the brain sooner. When it comes to chicken, 10-12 months is a good time to add to the bulk of their body weight by introducing boiled chicken in mashed, or soup form.
- Whole Cream Milk- As your child turns one, and is weaned of breast milk entirely, it is a good idea to introduce whole cream milk to help them gain weight while getting the important calcium as well.
- Dry Fruits – Children above one year of age can be given dry fruits especially almonds. Soak them overnight and give to help with weight, muscles, and better brain cells.
- Cheese – While cheese is a bit difficult to digest under the age of one, between one and two years it is a good food product to help them for weight gain.
- Olive Oil – A few drops of olive oil is good for toddler’s stomach, couch and cold and is packed with nutrients including good fats that will be extremely beneficial in the long run.
Do remember to keep a balance of what you are giving your child to eat and drink and never rush them to finish their food at this stage. Healthy habits will be built overtime as your baby gets introduced to an array of good food to smell, see and eat.