In the early years of life, children have increased energy and nutrient requirements as they are growing rapidly. 

Underweight or poor weight gain can be caused by acute or chronic illness, a restricted diet, poor appetite, feeding problems (e.g. fussy eating, over-dependence on milk, neglect or insufficient food supply).

Tips to increase weight gain

Provide small, frequent meals and snacks

Offer developmentally / age-appropriate, nutrient-dense foods, which can help optimise the smaller stomach capacity of young children

Provide nutrient-dense foods and snacks 

These include:
  • meat, cheese, egg or smooth peanut  butter sandwiches 
  • fruit yoghurt
  • dry cereal with yoghurt
  • dried fruits and nuts. Avoid giving whole nuts to children under the age of 5 due to the risk of choking. Choose ground-up nuts or nut pastes instead.  
Poor growth can stem from over-restriction on food intake due to parental concerns on obesity, heart disease  or other health problems. 

Limit intake of foods high in fibre and phytates 

For example, vegetables, fruits, wholegrain breads and cereals to age-appropriate portions. 

Foods high in fibre can cause your child to feel full quickly and limit energy intake. Foods high in phytate can also limit the absorption of nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and manganese.

Include Protein and calorie boosters 

These can be added to snacks or main meals to increase the calorie density of meals without increasing the bulk. Some examples of protein and calorie boosters include: 
  • cheese 
  • full fat milk powder 
  • eggs 
  • avocado 
Ref: N18