Children aged 6 to 12 are still growing, which means they need the energy (calories) and nutrients that come from a varied and balanced diet. If your child is underweight, they may not be getting enough calories.
If you're concerned that your child is underweight or not growing normally, see a GP. Low weight can occur for a number of reasons.
How can I tell if my child is underweight?
As a parent, it can be difficult to tell if your child is underweight.
If you already know your child's height and weight, and want to know if they're a healthy weight, you can check using our healthy weight calculator.
If your child is in Year 6 (ages 10 and 11), they may have already been weighed and their height measured as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.
In some areas you may be sent the results for your child. In other areas you will have to contact your local authority to find out your child's measurements.
If results show that your child is underweight, consult a GP, who can talk to you about the possible causes.
If there is a problem with your child's diet, the GP can give advice that will help bring your child up to a healthy weight, or refer them to a dietitian.
Your child's diet
All children need the energy (calories) and nutrients that come from a varied and balanced diet.
If your child is underweight, it may be tempting to fill them up with high-calorie but unhealthy foods, such as sweets, cake, chocolate and sugary and fatty foods and drinks. However, it's important that your child gains weight in a healthy way, and this means eating a balanced diet.
Once your child is 5, they should be eating a healthy, low-fat diet like the one recommended for adults. Find out more in What to feed young children.
What is a balanced diet?
The government advises that children aged 5 and over follow the Eatwell Guide. This guide shows the proportions in which different types of foods are needed to have a balanced diet:
Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates. Choose wholegrain where possible.
Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks and yoghurts). Choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options.
Eat some beans and pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein. Aim for 2 portions of fish every week – 1 of which should be oily, such as salmon or mackerel.
Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts.
Drink plenty of fluids – the government recommends 6 to 8 glasses a day.
Try to choose a variety of different foods from the 5 main food groups.
Consume foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar less often and in small amounts.
Most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories, too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre.
Learn more about the different food groups and how they form part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Children's meals at home
Do you find it difficult to make time to prepare healthy balanced meals for the whole family? If so, that might be part of the reason your child is not consuming enough calories.
Try to make time for breakfast and dinner, and eat together as a family. Make mealtime a fun part of the day.
During the week, your child will eat lunch at school. It's impossible to monitor exactly what your child eats away from home, but you can help your child make healthy choices.
Talk to your child about the importance of a healthy and balanced diet.
Give your child prepaid school lunches, or a healthy packed lunch, instead of giving money that your child can spend on food.
Find out what the school's healthy eating policy is.
These days, school lunches are more likely to meet a child's nutritional requirements compared with the average packed lunch.
If you would prefer to make your child a packed lunch, make sure it is nutritionally balanced.
A healthier packed lunch should:
be based on starchy carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta)
include fresh fruit and vegetables/salad
include protein such as beans and pulses, eggs, fish, meat, cheese (or dairy alternative)
include a side dish, such as a low-fat and lower-sugar yoghurt (or dairy alternative), tea cake, fruit bread, plain rice/corn cakes, homemade plain popcorn, sugar-free jelly
include a drink, such as water, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, sugar-free or no-added sugar drink
Get ideas from Change4Life for what to put in your child's school packed lunch.
How to increase your child's calorie intake
To help your child gain weight, try increasing their portion sizes at mealtimes, especially for starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.
Alternatively, if your child finds it hard to eat larger portions, try increasing the energy density of your child's meals, until they have reached a healthy weight.
Energy density is the amount of energy (calories) per gram of food. Higher energy density foods tend to be higher in fat, such as cheese, nuts, whole milk and nut butters.
a jacket potato with baked beans topped with grated cheese
tuna pasta bake
mashed avocado topped with chopped hardboiled egg on wholemeal toast
You can also boost your child's daily calorie intake by providing healthier snacks.
Great snack ideas include:
small sandwiches with a protein filling, such as cheese or eggs
cheese and crackers or cheese on wholemeal or brown bread
yoghurt, which contains protein and calcium
breadsticks and vegetable dips such as hummus
Keep your child active
Even if your child is underweight, it's still important that they're physically active.
Physical activity helps them develop strong, healthy bones and muscles. It's an important part of how they learn about themselves and the world. And, best of all, it's great fun.
Children over 5 should do a minimum of 60 minutes of activity each day. But the amount of physical activity your child should do may be different if they're underweight. A GP, practice nurse or school nurse can advise you on this.
Find ideas on how to get active with your child.
Monitor your child's progress
If you provide a healthy diet using these guidelines, you should see your child's weight and growth improve.
Keep regular records of your child's height and weight, and take your child back to the GP to check that their weight gain is happening as it should.
Once your child has reached a healthy weight, their diet may need adjusting so that they do not become overweight.
How to help your child gain weight
Tips for Increasing Calories and Protein
Try eating 6 to 8 smaller meals or snacks per day.
If you can only eat a few bites, eat more often, every half hour if needed.
Avoid favorite foods when you feel nauseated, or sick to your stomach. If you vomit after eating a favorite food, you may no longer enjoy that food.
Save favorite foods for when you feel good!
Eat when you feel hungry. Keep ready-to-eat foods on hand if your hunger only lasts a few minutes.
Don’t fill up on liquids at meals. Instead, drink just enough at meals to swallow food with comfort.
Sip on liquids between meals to stay hydrated.
Try drinking whole milk, flavored milk, buttermilk, hot cocoa, or milkshakes with meals.
Use milk or “Half and Half” instead of water to make soups and hot cereals.
Have ice cream or regular yogurt for snacks and desserts. Top off waffles or pancakes with ice cream, whipped cream, or fruit toppings.
Add whipping cream to pies, fruit, pudding, fruit-flavored gelatin, hot cocoa, and other desserts.
Serve heavy cream with fruits (peaches n’ cream, strawberries n’ cream, etc.)
Add sour cream to potatoes, casseroles, dips, vegetables, fruit, beans, and soups.
Add cream cheese to spreads and cheesecake, or put it on crackers.
Mix cheese with almost everything.
Melt cheese in scrambled eggs or on fried eggs.
Melt cheese on hamburgers and add it to other meat sandwiches.
Melt cheese onto meatloaf, spaghetti, pizza, and casseroles.
Melt cheese onto baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and other vegetables.
Add cheese to salads, soups, and chili.
Melt cheese onto bread, biscuits, rolls and cornbread.
Serve cheese dip with chips or vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
For any recipe that calls for milk, use a high calorie supplement, whipping cream (heavy cream or light cream), whole milk, or fortified milk.
Put extra meat on sandwiches.
Have extra helpings of meat at meals. Eat the meat first and eat less of other food.
Add chopped, cooked meats to soups, salads, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and pasta dishes.
Add extra eggs to meat, casseroles, etc.
Serve nuts as snacks like trail mix as well as in cereals or breads, and on desserts.
Put extra peanut butter on sandwiches, bagels, and biscuits.
Spread peanut butter or other nut butters onto cookies, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, granola bars, pretzels, and crackers.
Add peanut butter to pancakes, French toast, and waffles before pouring on the syrup.
Put peanut butter on fruits and vegetables (apples, bananas, pears, celery, carrots, etc.)
Make peanut butter milkshakes.
Use butter, margarine, or oil.
Add it to soups, vegetables, mashed potatoes, cooked cereal, pudding, rice, pasta, and casseroles.
Spread extra onto rolls, biscuits, cornbread, sandwiches, and toast.
Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil to smoothies and milkshakes.
Sauté or stir-fry vegetables, meats, chicken, and seafood in olive, canola, or coconut oil.
Marinate meat, chicken, or fish in vegetable, canola, olive, or sesame oil before cooking.
Add foods such as avocado and nuts to meals.
Add salad dressings to vegetables, potatoes, and salads.
Add extra mayonnaise to sandwiches, tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad, and ham salad.
Add gravy to potatoes, vegetables, rice, pasta, and meats.
Add extra frosting to fruit, cookies, cakes, graham crackers, and other desserts.
Recipes to help your child gain weight
½ cup soy milk
¾ cup whole milk
2 TBSP peanut butter
2 frozen bananas, sliced
1 tsp. pasteurized honey
Combine soy milk and whole milk in blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving • 542 calories • 19.2 g protein • 16.4 g fat
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. vanilla flavored yogurt or pudding
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
Blend until smooth. Serve with fruit.
Nutrition facts: 2 oz. serving • 313 calories • 9.2 g protein • 19.8 g fat
Nutrition facts: 2 oz. serving • 131 calories • 2.4 g protein • 12.3 g fat
Creamy Avocado Dip
1 cup fresh cilantro
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tsp. salt
Scoop the avocados out of their skins and place in a food processor or blender. Add the cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, jalapeno, and salt. Blend until smooth.
Nutrition facts: 2 TBSP serving • 143 calories • 3 g protein • 13 g fat (Makes 8 servings)
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, rinsed
1 clove garlic
¼ cup olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP tahini (sesame seed paste; optional)
1 tsp. ground cumin
¾ tsp. salt
In a food processor or blender, puree the chickpeas and garlic with the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (if using), cumin, and salt until smooth and creamy. Add 1 to 2 TBSP water as needed to achieve desired consistency.
Nutrition facts: 2 TBSP serving • 145 calories • 2 g protein • 12 g fat
4 scoops (about 2 cups) vanilla or chocolate ice cream
½ cup cold whole milk
¼ cup chocolate syrup
Place ice cream, milk, and syrup in blender. Blend until smooth.
Nutrition facts: 10 oz. serving • 400 calories • 8 g protein • 16 g fat (Makes 2 servings)
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
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90,000 how to help them develop?
The birth of a small child is not uncommon today. Often, such babies are born on time or a little earlier, but due to a lack of weight, they can significantly lag behind their peers in development. Pediatricians and neuropathologists closely monitor the child's condition, because a child's body weight deficiency is a risk factor for changes in the neurological status, functional disorders of the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous systems. But because of their weakness, underweight children do not eat well, and the rate of weight gain in children born with low body weight determines their further physical and psychomotor development and the formation of the immune system.
How much should a newborn gain in weight?
To assess the development of your child and the compliance with the norm of the main indicators (height, weight), you can contact a pediatrician or independently - according to existing tables. In the first months, the child is actively growing, adding up to 25-60 grams per day. Small children with adequate nutrition can increase body weight more intensively than their peers. For the first month of life, children should gain up to 1.3-1.7 kg. After 5-6 months of life, the intensity of weight gain decreases somewhat - in 30 days, the increase can be only 400-700 grams.
The length of the child's body during the first month increases by 4-7 cm, and after 5-6 months of life, growth is added less intensively - by 2-3 cm. But parents should understand that these figures are approximate. Each child is individual. Its weight and height depend on many factors: heredity, the quality of the mother's nutrition, the state of health of the newborn, the severity of childbirth.
Why is the child not gaining weight well?
The main cause of underweight in the neonatal period is the baby's refusal to breastfeed. Small children have poor appetite and spend most of the day sleeping. Often, parents have to wake up the child for a long time, and after a few minutes of sucking on the breast or a bottle of formula, the newborn falls asleep again. Children are especially sleepy, in whom pronounced physiological jaundice was observed in the first days of life.
As a result, after the next weighing, the doctor can tell the mother that the newborn has not gained weight at all or the increase is insignificant. If the situation does not improve for several months, the mother and baby may be hospitalized for a comprehensive examination and tube feeding in a hospital setting.
Sometimes the cause of low weight gain lies in non-compliance with breastfeeding tactics. Pediatricians recommend applying the baby to only one breast during feeding so that it sucks out the "hind" milk, which is of particular energy value and rich in nutrients. Due to their inexperience, mothers offer both breasts to newborns. In this case, the child sucks the upper milk without making any effort and quickly falls asleep, slightly satisfying his hunger.
If the baby has had an infectious disease, has been ill for a long time, suffered from a high temperature or an intestinal disorder, then the monthly weight gain may be significantly less than usual. In this case, the timing of the introduction of complementary foods is also shifted, and during the period of illness, in general, many children practically refuse to eat, which is reflected in their weight. Parents should actively communicate with the pediatrician, if necessary, ask him questions of interest and adhere to all recommendations.
How to help a child gain weight and catch up with his peers in his development?
If you are breastfeeding, pay special attention to your diet. Drink as much liquid as possible: low-fat milk, compotes, hypoallergenic juices. Your diet must include boiled or baked meat. Take extra vitamins (as advised by the doctor). Breastfeed your baby immediately after waking up, when he is active, in a good mood and does not want to sleep.
But sometimes women's milk is produced in insufficient quantities or the baby does not have enough strength to suck it out. In this case, it is necessary to start supplementing with special infant formula as soon as possible. For children prone to allergic reactions, special hypoallergenic products are intended, which can be bought at a pharmacy, having previously discussed the mixture option with a pediatric nutritionist or pediatrician. Small babies are not adapted to intensive sucking, so the nipple on the bottle must be soft and pliable so that the child can fill up without problems.
In addition, in order to increase the rate of weight gain and, accordingly, for the proper growth and development of the child, it is recommended to give courses of preparations containing L-carnitine (levorcarnitine), an essential vitamin-like substance that has anabolic properties and has proven itself to normalize body weight in case of its deficiency. In addition, by increasing the secretory and enzymatic activity of gastric and intestinal juices, appetite and digestion improve. One of these drugs is Elkar, containing an aqueous solution of L-carnitine. Elkar is included in the "National program for optimizing the feeding of children in the first year of life" as a means of correcting malnutrition of the II degree.
In children, in contrast to the adult body, where levocarnitine is among the substances produced, the synthesis of this compound covers only 1% of the required amount. Of course, the required amount of L-carnitine is found in breast milk, but if natural feeding is impaired or impossible, the drug must be added to the diet.
In underweight children, psychomotor development is often retarded, which can subsequently manifest itself in the form of speech defects, instability of the nervous system. Elcar improves the energy supply of brain activity, which will help to avoid or reduce the degree of development of functional failure in various areas of the child's neuropsychic response (motor, emotional-motivational, vegetative, cognitive spheres).
Another very important point: levocarnitine improves immunity, which is vital for small children, since almost all of them are predisposed to the development of infectious diseases.
The rate of weight gain is influenced by many external and internal factors. The task of parents is to help the crumbs get stronger as soon as possible. Walk more with your child in the fresh air so that his body receives the necessary amount of oxygen. And don't forget to visit your pediatrician. Small children need professional medical supervision and the attention of loved ones.
Underweight infant | Bibikol
When a child is born, his parameters immediately begin to be compared with various norms established for all children: height, weight, Apgar scores are given, and so all his life they will compare his development with some kind of developed and established framework, but we are all unique and are individual. We are influenced by genetics, living conditions and ecology - everything that surrounds us, one way or another, affects us and our children, so minor deviations from the norms are not considered critical.
In this article, we want to talk to you about the weight of an infant - when poor weight gain indicates serious problems, and when you should not panic, but just regularly monitor changes in baby's weight.
It is generally accepted that a newly born baby should add an average of 200 grams every week, and for a month in the region from 600 to 800 grams, and such an active increase goes up to six months. Then the baby continues to grow and gain weight, but not at such a pace - after six months, about 400-500 grams per month can be considered the norm. And this is only an average indicator, which in no way says that every month there should be, for example, +600 grams on the scales, no, in one month a child can gain all 800 grams, in the next 500 grams, but in in total, he will have +1300 grams in two months, which means 650 grams per month and this will be considered the norm!
Yes, it would be ideal to gain 800 grams every month, but again, everyone's bodies are different and if your baby fits into the average norms, then you should not sound the alarm. After all, you have a pediatrician who is obliged to help if any health problems arise. As a result, when the child reaches 12 months, his weight should be at least 10 kg. There is one more “but”, the height and weight of a healthy child are always interconnected and an increase in one indicator entails an increase in another, but if they increase out of proportion, then special attention must be paid to the health of the baby.
In each individual case, weight gain is considered individually, since the type of feeding plays a role here - breast milk or adapted milk formula, the constitutional characteristics of the child and other factors. For example, sometimes common colds can affect weight gain, but this is acceptable during the period of illness, and if a child loses weight for several months in a row, then it is worth considering and looking for other reasons. Usually, at the time of discharge from the hospital, the weight of the child is slightly lower than that with which he was born, but this is a common situation that you should not focus on. In the future, if the child is not gaining weight well, then it is necessary to exclude serious diseases and find out the cause of underweight.
Lack of body weight is called malnutrition and has three degrees, the first of which is insignificant, the reason for this may simply be a lack of mother's milk. In this case, it is worth increasing the number of feedings, especially if it is less than or equal to 5 times a day, slow sucking and falling asleep during feeding - here you should wake up the baby and offer to eat more, on average, the child should eat from 15 to 30 minutes. Too warm clothes can also interfere with the baby in the process of feeding and cause malnutrition. An insufficient amount of mother's milk is also the cause of underweight in the baby, here you should try to increase lactation or switch to mixed feeding, that is, breastfeed the baby first, and then supplement it with an adapted milk formula.
Too early or, conversely, late introduction of complementary foods can also affect the baby's weight - remember that a child who is bottle-fed should begin to get acquainted with other products from 4 months, and a baby who eats breast milk from 5 or even 6 months.
Another reason for underweight can be an incorrectly selected mixture. This usually happens when the mother makes her own decision, choosing an unbalanced diet for her crumbs. For example, feeding children with therapeutic mixtures must be approved by a doctor and have really serious indications for this, and in other cases, either changing the mixture or using other methods of treatment can be dispensed with without compromising the child in good nutrition. For example, the use of Nanny formula for feeding a baby has a beneficial effect on weight gain, and on the growth and development of a child, and is also great for children prone to allergies.
There is also such a problem as poor digestion of food. It would seem that the child eats well and in normal quantities, and gains weight poorly, then we can assume lactase deficiency, dysbacteriosis or fermentopathy. If the problem really exists in the gastrointestinal tract, then problems with the stool are not excluded - pay special attention to this and consult a doctor at the slightest suspicion.
Even more serious problems that affect the weight and even height of the child can be the following: hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormones), lack of vitamin "D" and the amino acid - L-carnitine. Here consultation and inspection at the endocrinologist and genetics is necessary. Such a violation of metabolic processes may be accompanied by poor appetite, severe sweating and excitability.