How Much Weight Should My Toddler Gain In A Year Tips on Mealtime and Your Underweight Child

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Tips on Mealtime and Your Underweight Child

If you’re like me, then you’re looking for ways to get good nutritious food in your kids’ tummies but also find ways to give them enough calories. Remember that as parents you are responsible for what is offered and where and when it is presented. You are also responsible for providing a safe and pleasant environment during mealtimes.

Children on the other hand are responsible for deciding how much food to eat and whether to eat at all. Make sure that:

1. Offer a variety of nutritious foods.

2. Offer foods that are safe.

3. Offer serving sizes that are appropriate.

4. Eat meals at the table.

5. Eat at regular times.

6. Use as good role models when choosing foods to eat.

7. Do not force or bribe the child to eat.

8. Avoid fights or negative behaviors during meals.

Children should eat at least three meals a day with two snacks. I’ve had parents think their child was “always eating” but when you broke it down they weren’t eating many calories. They nibbled on rice cakes and grapes. I had a mom say she thought carbs were bad for her child and tried to cut them out. Unlike the adult diet, children actually need a lot of carbohydrates. Because children are small and don’t eat much, they need to have nutritious foods as well as energy-dense foods.

A food is nutrient-dense if its vitamin and mineral content is greater than its energy or calorie content, such as lean meats, beans, oranges, carrots, broccoli, whole-grain bread and whole-grain breakfast cereals. Energy-dense foods provide more calories than nutritious foods such as chips, soft drinks, cookies and ice cream. Remember to balance healthy, nutrient-dense foods with energy-dense foods.

Feeding children, especially an underweight child, can be stressful if you micromanage their meals. I know it’s tempting to chase them home with a forkful of food. But don’t do it. Try instead to:

1. Feed them small meals of foods and drinks that are both nutrient-dense and energy-dense.

2. Add fats to foods such as butter on fries and toast, mayonnaise and cheese on sandwiches.

3. Offer whole-fat products such as milk, cottage cheese, cream soups, puddings and yogurt.

4. Add calories to foods like fruit in heavy syrup and vegetables with cheese sauce.

Don’t forget to visit your pediatrician for a thorough examination.

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