A newborn usually regain his birth weight within 14 days and doubles his birth weight in next 3-4 months. You can expect your baby to triple his birth weight by 1 year of age. There can be many reasons if your baby is not gaining weight as per the growth chart after one year of age. Poor appetite in babies and toddlers could also be the result of illness like fever, cold and cough. Even though the body recovers from fever or cold, the digestion process takes a bit longer to get back in track, resulting in tastelessness and low appetite.
Every mom’s top concern is about the weight gain and good appetite of their babies. Here are few tips to improve the appetite and help to gain weight in babies and toddlers:
- Breast milk: From the birth till 6 months of age babies need only breast milk to gain weight. This is a super food which is most nutritious and balanced for babies. Breast milk also helps to improve the immunity and appetite in babies.
- Banana: Bananas are high in carbohydrates, potassium, dietary fibre, Vitamins C and B6 thus an excellent source of natural energy. A single banana provides more than 100 calories. Bananas can be introduced after six months of age. You can make banana smoothie, shakes, puddings or just mashed banana. Banana is easy to feed at home and when you are travelling.
- Full Cream Milk: Full cream dairy milk can also help your child to gain weight. Milk is a natural source of calcium, protein, essential vitamins and minerals. You should include at least two glasses of milk per day to one year old child’s diet. You can also add homemade health powders, dry fruit powders to the milk if your child doesn’t like plain milk. You can also make different shakes. Cow’s milk should be avoided until your child is a year old.
- Sweet Potatoes: You can introduce sweet potato after six months. Sweet potato is one of the most nutritious foods as it is rich source of vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, copper, manganese and vitamin B6. It is also, a good source of potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, phosphorus and are low in saturated fat. Sweet potato is easy to mash and digest and also very tasty. You can make sweet potato khichdi, pancakes and halwa.
- Plain meats and Eggs: For non- vegetarian meat can be a good option for gaining weight. It contains the essential amino acids, fat, protein, iron, zinc and selenium. Red meat provides an easily absorbed form of iron for your baby. Make sure you introduce homemade meat to your child initially. Eggs are also high in protein, saturated fat. It also contains minerals and vitamin A and B12. Eggs are a very healthy option for your child’s growth and development. Egg is a good source of choline, which helps to regulate the nervous system and brain. Before introducing egg to your child you should consult your doctor because few kids may have egg allergies.
- Ghee: Desi Ghee is one of the best foods for weight gain in babies as it has very high nutritional value. You can start adding ghee in your baby’s food like dal, porridge, chapati, paratha or sabzi after 8 months.
- Ragi: Ragi is very nutritious and healthy millet and is one of the best weight gaining food. Ragi is rich in calcium, protein, iron, dietary fiber, Vitamins B1, B2 and other minerals, which are required for your baby’s development. It is easily digestible, you can prepare ragi cereal or porridge. For toddlers, you can prepare ragi porridge, dosa, idlis, roti, ladoos, pancakes and cookies.
- Cheese: Cheese is packed with calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin B12 and phosphorus. You can start giving cheese to your baby at 8 months of age. Cheese is an ideal food rich in calorie and help in gain weight. Cheese can also be given if your child has dairy intolerance because milk protein is largely broken down so that it can be tolerated.
Along with these weight gain foods you should also include these to your child’s diet to improve the appetite:
- Carrot Juice
- Pumpkin seeds
- Curd with mint/ Fenugreek Powder
- Lemon Juice
You should also involve your child in different physical activities to improve the appetite. Physical activities for babies such as tummy time, rolling over on the floor, and hand-and-leg movements and for toddlers and kids playing in the park, enjoying the rides, dancing, running etc. are helpful in improving their appetite.
Moreover you should keep this in your mind that baby’s growth and baby’s weight are two different things. If your baby is active, eating healthy food and has strong immunity system then, it is healthy. Child’s weight is one part of its overall growth but it is not the only measuring criteria to check the child’s development.