High-Calorie Foods for Underweight Children

All-new parents quickly become very familiar with the CDC growth chart. As soon as a baby is born, “well visits” begin to track your child’s growth and ensure that they stay within a certain percentile. But is lack of weight gain in a child always a cause for concern? What can parents do to help their children gain weight? We’ve compiled a quick guide on high-calorie foods for underweight children that will briefly cover all of the important information you need to know.

What are some high-calorie foods for underweight kids?

While it can be tempting to fill your child’s diet with seemingly rich items like cake and cookies, it is important to make sure their calories are coming from healthy sources like the following:

  • Healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, or nut butters
  • Full-fat dairy including cheese, milk, and yogurt
  • Protein-rich foods such as eggs, beans, nuts, meat, and fish
  • Fortified foods with added vitamins such as juice, milk, and cereal
  • Whole-grain breads and pastas
  • Milkshakes and smoothies
  • Dark chocolate

High-Calorie Foods for Underweight Children

What else can parents do to help their underweight kids gain weight?

Parents who are worried about their child’s nutritional intake have a variety of other options to help their underweight kids gain weight. If your child is underweight or has been diagnosed as “failure to thrive,” consider adding an oral supplementation such as PediaSure. Babies and toddlers may be given a special formula designed for weight gain.

Monitor what your child is eating and make sure they are eating three full meals a day. Healthy snacks can be added between breakfast, lunch, and dinner but should never replace a meal.

Another easy fix is to simply increase your child’s portion size at each daily meal.

When is lack of weight gain a sign of a medical issue?

A child is officially considered underweight if their BMI is below the fifth percentile. Other signs may include a child whose ribs stick out or who does not grow out of their clothes seasonally.

If your child has been consistently underweight throughout all or most of their childhood, they might simply naturally fall on the lower end of the growth chart. You should be able to track their weight on the CDC growth chart and see if their percentile has remained steady over time.

On the other hand, if your child’s weight is due to a medical issue, you may see a sudden dip or fluctuations in their path on the growth chart. It could be a sign of a problem with nutrient absorption or other digestive concern. Other potential medical causes of lack of weight gain include thyroid disorders, issues with hormones, eating disorders, and even food allergies.

When in doubt, consult your child’s doctor in Littleton or a specialist to discuss the possibility of imaging tests and other diagnostic tools.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s diet, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians in Littleton.