Formula or breast milk is all that your baby can digest up until the age of approximately six months. After this stage milk is still nutritionally beneficial because it delivers calcium, but you can begin to introduce other foods. The World Health Organisation recommends breast feeding up to the age of two.
Failure to thrive is a loose definition used to describe a baby or child who is not gaining sufficient weight in the early stages of life. The University of Maryland Medical Center claims that failure to thrive may be linked to low birth weight and chronic infections. According to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, a baby’s growth rate declines by one year and at this age they may become picky.
The University of Michigan recommends that fruit not be given to babies under six months of age. Fruit contains a range of nutrients, including amino acids and fiber. There are various ways to deliver fruit into a child’s diet. You can mix it with oatmeal, give small segments at snack time, make a mixed-fruit juice to drink or make a fruit smoothie. Avocados are a “heart-healthy” source of fat and a good option for healthy weight gain. Mashing up some avocado into a fine paste and mixing it with other fruit makes it easier to swallow.
Low-sugar cereals such as oatmeal and granola are a healthy way to aid weight gain. Mixed with fruit, oatmeal makes a delicious, healthy breakfast and can be served hot or cold. It can be combined with milk for extra calcium.
Low-fat cheese and cottage cheese are excellent choices for infant weight gain. Avoid cheese that is high in fat and salt, and always read the nutritional information on the label.
The World Health Organisation recommends peanut butter for severely malnourished children. It is high in energy and fat and can deliver a concentrated amount of essential nutrition in emergency situations. Mix peanut butter and banana in a bowl to create a healthy, fatty and high-energy spread for sandwiches. You can also add peanut butter to cereals.
Lean poultry, such as turkey mixed with potato is a healthy and protein-rich meal for a toddler. It’s important to introduce healthy “grown-up” foods at a young age, especially to an underweight child.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Failure to Thrive: Overview
- Children's Hospital, Pittsburgh: Infant Feeding Guide
- University of Michigan: Feeding Your Baby and Toddler
- Baby Center: Helping a Child Who's Underweight
- World Health Organization: Efficacy and Effectiveness of Community-Based Treatment of Severe Malnutrition (PDF)
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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