Answer: If your child is underweight, start by ensuring that most meals and snacks are nutrient-rich. Good sources of protein for weight gain include eggs, peanut butter and other nut butters, bean soups, hummus and full-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. Whole wheat bread and pasta, mashed potatoes and hot cereal are excellent carbohydrate choices, while nuts and seeds, and avocados, are healthy fat sources to help your child gain weight
• Serve 5-6 meals to toddlers. They are very active and three meals alone are not enough to give all the energy they need. So couple of snack other than the regular meals are important. Follow below options when you are planning diet for underweight toddler
• Serve full fat milk and curd to your child. Do not skim cream out of milk. This extra fat is good for your growing child.
• You could add a little ghee, butter or olive oil to your child’s dal or veggies. Start with just a few drops of ghee in baby’s food and then you may add upto 1-2 teaspoons a day to a toddler’s food.
• You may also add paneer to your baby / toddler’s diet. Paneer is very good for weight gain.
• You could also add cream to soups, jam sandwiches, mashed potatoes etc. when you make these for your underweight toddler.
• Make healthy desserts like kheer or carrot halwa with full fat cream.
• Add nuts to your underweight kid’s diet. Almonds and cashew nuts can be added to your child’s cereal. Raisins can be given for snacking. Peanut or coconut chutney can be given, However, nuts should be powdered or chopped fine.
Almonds are considered very healthy and you might remember how our mothers used to soak almonds overnight and give them early morning.
If you child does not like eating almonds straight like my daughter, make this delicious almond milk powder to kill two birds with one arrow.
• Add eggs and chicken to child’s diet if you are non-vegetarian. Red meat is also great for weight gain.
• Jaggery or gur is a trational, non-refined sugar in India and other parts of Asia. It is commonly prepared from sugarcane juice and date palm. It is healthier than refined sugar and used in plenty of traditional recipes. Add organic jaggery to your child’s diet to add some extra calories.
• Not all sweets are bad and you can let your underweight toddler enjoy these sweet treats without any guilt
• Add fruits like banana, cheeku and mangoes to your child’s diet. These fruits are naturally rich in calories and are help in weight gain.
• Ragi or nachni is a very nutritious millet and it is advised to be included in diet of babies and toddlers.
At this stage the one thing that you need to keep in mind is to cut down the milk intake. As it's insufficient for the growth of the baby. It doesn't give the complete nutrition to the body that needed daily. At this stage baby needs 20-30oz milk everyday and that can be fulfil by either giving a cup of plain milk, milk products or milk based items. At this stage you can also start weaning the breastmilk if you baby allows and wishes. Few tips for feeding the baby,
1. Always understand the baby acceptance regarding the food texture. If still accept pureed food don't force to accept chunky foods.
2. Always remember don't force feed the baby . It may leads to loose of food interest.
3. Be creative on your cooking as well as presentation side .
4. Keep trying different recipes and mix match the two ingredients to make new one.
5. Always feed the baby in stainless steel , glass or silver bowl .Plastic feeding bowl and spoon should be strictly avoided.
6. Baby gets hungry soon in every 2-3 hours but you need to understand the hunger sign of your baby.
7. At this stage baby needs 4-5 times meal.
8. Food items are recommended are generic and avoid if your baby has any particular food allergies.
Food items that you can feed are,
Rice Apple porridge, rice kheer, Apple kheer, ragi kheer, sabudana kheer, ragi and banana porridge,Apple ragi porridge, ragi pancakes, ragi idli, ragi and nuts porridge, moong daal soup,potato carrot soup, tomato carrot soup, muesli curd, muesli and milk , vegetables soup, sooji banana porridge , sooji Apple porridge, scramble eggs, oats and nuts porridge, Apple oats porridge,milk oats and dates porridge, daliya, Apple daliya porridge, banana daliya porridge, barley kheer, curd oats, plain and veggie khichdi, upma, sooji chilla, veggie appam, sabudana vegetables khichdi, makhana kheer , boiled vegetables with pasta and breads, chicken soup, etc .
Apple puree, chikoo puree, papaya puree, carrot puree,pumpkin puree,watermelon, kiwi puree, banana puree, banana with curd,avocado puree, home made flavoured yogurt.
Banana shake,dates shake, Apple shake, avocado shake, kiwi shake,chiku shake , Banana kiwi smoothie, avocado Apple smoothie etc.are the options .