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While much of the health media focus is on overweight children, sometimes parents find themselves with the opposite problem, underweight children or a mixed tribe of overweight and underweight kids.
Are you worried that your child is too skinny?
Before you worry too much, consider these points ...
perhaps some of the other kids in the school photo are actually a little over-fat and that makes your child look underweight, or perhaps your children’s slimness is part of their genetic make-up and there will be catch-up growth later?
Check the kid's BMI at this free calculator to see if it is rated as underweight. If your child's growth (height or weight) has fallen or stalled, chat with your local doctor.
Provided the medical doctor has told you there is no underlying medical problem or cause for your child being underweight, you could apply the following tips to increase the child’s health and nutrition.
1. Feed and fuel your child at least six times a day.
2. Just because they’re skinny, doesn’t mean nutrition is not important.
3. Get the foundation solid with great quality food.
4. Keep your child focused on the task of eating.
5. Set some ground rules at meal times such as "everyone stays at the table until dad and mum are finished" even if your child doesn’t want to eat what you’ve served.
6. Trick their little eyes.
7. Make it easy for your child to eat.
8. Serve milk drinks rather than water or cordial with meals and snacks.
9. Choose and serve foods that are energy and nutrient rich.
10. Bump up the nourishing fats.
11. Serve milky desserts after the main meal.
12. Add some ‘boosters’ to top up the energy intake even further.
13. Watch your language and conversation around body size and shapes.
Easily double the energy intake of your child without making larger serves with some simple healthy switches*.
Instead of this:
1/2 cup diced watermelon
1 lady finger banana or a tablespoon of sultanas or 1 dried peach half
1 wrap bread
1 small bread roll
1/2 cup popcorn
1 snack-sized tub of yoghurt (100g)
4-5 jube lollies
4-5 macadamia nuts
1 mandarin or 4 lychees
Vegemite on toast
Avocado, peanut butter or cheese on toast
Mashed orange sweet potato
3-4 tbs crispy breakfast cereal (even the kids’ sugar flavoured ones)
2 tbs muesli (toasted or untoasted)
A chocolate frog
2 pikelets with spread
A multi-vitamin and mineral supplement doesn’t add the energy fuel (kJ and cals) that your child needs to fill out.
Only add a supplement if your child doesn’t even eat enough of the essential foundation foods.
* For more healthy ideas that jump out at you because you really see them, read my book "this=that child size this: a life-size photo guide to kids’ food serves". It contains more than 340 life-size photos of different types of food with serving suggestions, in each of seven food categories. It suits kids of all sizes and shapes from ages 4 up to 13 years.