10 Effective Weight Gain Foods For Your Baby
Are you worried that your six-month-old has not gained adequate weight? Do you wonder what complementary food to give her? Here are some weight gain foods you can try.
By Priya Kathpal
One-year-old Aahana is underweight for babies her age and her mother, Reshmika is worried about the little one's health. Reshmika consulted the family physician to find out why her baby was not gaining weight adequately. She feared that it could be due to underlying illness. To her surprise, the doctor said Aahana’s health was perfectly fine and suggested some changes in the child's diet.
Why does a baby weight gain slow down?
Babies gain weight gradually as they grow. But, at some point, weight gain slows down or stabilises. This usually happens when the baby starts to crawl and is more interested in exploring her surroundings than having food. Most babies lose weight initially after birth and get back to their birth weight in the first 8–10 days. Many babies go through brief periods when they lose a little weight. This is not unusual.
When a baby does not gain adequate weight in the first three months, then it could be a cause for worry. It is a good idea to consult your child's paediatrician and check why your baby is not gaining weight.
Timeline of a baby’s weight gain
Ideally, in the first three months, a baby should gain, on an average, 100–175g a week. But it is important to understand that each baby will have her own pace of weight gain. This does not mean that one baby is healthier than the other. One good way of assessing how your baby is growing, is to use a growth chart. This will tell you what percentile your baby is at. For example, if your six-month-old baby is at the 80th percentile for weight, it means that 80 per cent of six-month-old babies are of the same weight as your little one.
As your little one starts getting more active and exploring her surroundings, a slight dip in her weight is natural. A good marker in weight gain is to check if your baby has doubled the birth weight by the sixth month and tripled it by the first year. Your baby's paediatrician will mark your baby's progress during the routine examinations and will be able to ascertain if there are any issues, based on the exams.
It’s important to look at weight in alignment with other parameters like milestones, immunity, the health of the baby, etc. However, there are some foods you can give the baby to ensure a good weight gain.
Note: The World Health Organization recommends that an infant must be exclusively breastfed for the first six months after birth.
Foods that can help gain weight in babies
- Breastmilk: Is ideal for the normal weight gain of a baby. Also, if the baby needs more fat, then a mother’s milk will be able to provide it accordingly.
- Dry fruits: Can be given in grated, finely chopped and soaked forms. Nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, peanuts, raisins, prunes, sesame are great sources of healthy fats, proteins and natural sugars. They are concentrated sources of energy, which means a small quantity will give enough nourishment. Can be added to porridges for your little one.
- Clarified butter or ghee: Is a great source of calories and gives a good chunk of Vitamin A. About a small drop a day to your baby's diet. Try adding it to chapatis, rice, khichdi, etc.
- Homemade fresh juice: These are high in calories and natural sugars, easy to make and consume. Juice also takes care of hydration in babies. For babies under 12 months, it is advisable to give fresh fruit pulp.
- Sweet potato: Is rich in magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and C, dietary fibre and very low in saturated fat. Sweet potato is also rich in beta-carotene and sugar. Hence, it is a highly nutritious food for gaining weight.
- Potatoes: Are high on starch and fibre, and can be added to almost all kind of meals or had on their own.
- Cheese: A great source of fats, protein and calcium, choose one that is low in salt. It can be combined with bread, potatoes or even vegetables. About three slices per week are enough. Homemade cottage cheese is a good option.
- Eggs: Are a great combo of proteins, fats and vitamins. One egg a day can take care of a lot of nutrients. However, please check for allergy, if any.
- Whole fat milk: Compensates for the extra calorie needs of a child, who is not gaining weight adequately. Give in the form of milkshake or add to porridge.
- Jaggery: Helps boost immunity, leading to weight gain. Also, jaggery provides instant energy that is needed for active babies.
Although the above list is good to be offered to babies every day, it’s important to make sure they consume a variety of foods that are local and seasonal, for a healthy body.
About the expert:
Written by Priya Kathpal on 02 August 2018; updated on 25 September 2019.
The author, Priya is a nutritionist and founder at Nutrify.
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