My Child Is Not Gaining Weight - What Should I Do?
Nutrition plays a big role in this.
We are not here to judge nor are we here to speculate. So parents, if your child is experiencing poor growth as diagnosed by their paediatrician and you’ve landed on this article, we’re here to offer you some advice.
Poor growth is hard to predict sometimes, especially if a child is born without any obvious causes that are usually linked to them. But guess what? Poor growth, or developmental delays, is actually rather common in childhood -- occurring in 10%–15% of preschool children1.
It usually starts off slowly, when we notice signs like slow growth in height. If that has nothing to do with genetics, then it might be something to be concerned about.
Or perhaps it was flagged during a routine checkup or when preschool teachers or childcare professionals raise concerns.
If you’re looking for ways to overcome developmental delays in kids, here are some things you can try.
How to overcome developmental delays in kids
1. Never miss a visit to the paediatrician
Besides sending the kids to the paediatricians when they have a cold or when it is time for a routine vaccine, you should also make it a point to go to the paediatrician for half-a-year checkups to keep an eye on their weight and height progression.
If you suspect your child is experiencing a developmental delay, this becomes even more important. You should take your child to the doctor as soon as you feel something is off.
Request for a full-body examination beyond just the weight, height and head circumference measurements that all clinics will practice.
In a full body examination, the doctor will also check body proportion to see if there is an asymmetry between left and right. The doctor will also check if the child’s limbs and trunk are in proportion.
Doctors may conduct a neurological examination to check for abnormalities of muscle tone and strength (particularly in boys, to screen for muscular dystrophy). They will also check the skin for hyper- or hypopigmentation, which could suggest underlying conditions2.
If doctors are concerned about a child’s developmental progress, they might request for you to make more frequent visits. Be sure not to miss out on all of these appointments.
2. Follow the doctor or dietitian's take-home advice
After the visit to the paediatrician’s, the paediatrician or dietitian will be giving you advice to follow at home on how to overcome developmental delays in kids.
For instance, if your child is not gaining enough weight according to their age or if they have recently lost weight, the doctor might recommend supplementing their diets with formula milk or a nutritionally complete supplement.
They will also recommend watching your child’s diet and giving them fresh, whole foods with a balance in their protein, carbohydrate and fats intake.
It can be a lot of effort to have to think up nutritional meals for your child every day, but the effort is surely worth it when you see their growth rise substantially the next time you weigh them or measure their height.
3. Go beyond home-based stimulation
Besides what you do at home, there are other ways to help stimulate your child’s development.
If your child is developing slowly physically, sending them for swimming classes or going to fun gymboree activities can really open them up to new experiences while stimulating their growth. Physical exercises can improve your child’s muscle and bone growth, while also keeping them healthy mentally. Aerobic exercises will also help to keep their hearts healthy3.
When children are kept active during the day, you also tire them out sufficiently so they can get deep sleep at night.
Sleep is equally important in a child’s development. In fact, studies have shown that the most fundamental requirements for healthy growth and development in young children include loving support and protection by parents and caretakers, adequate nutrition, and adequate sleep4.
If going for extracurricular activities is beyond your reach, then the most basic thing you can do for your child is just changing their environment from time to time. It could be that you introduce them to a daycare or a nursery with educational activities. Or it could be as simple as taking them to the zoo, bird park or aquarium once in a while.
Early intervention can make a big difference in a child’s development. So if you suspect your child is experiencing developmental delays, then you should take these steps to overcome them as soon as possible.
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1 Choo, Y., MD, Agarwal, P., MD, MMed, Choon, H., MMed, FCFP, & Yeleswarapu, S. P., MBBS, FRCPCH. (2019, March). Developmental delay: Identification and management at primary care level. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6441684/
2 Meschino, W. (2003, January). The child with developmental delay: An approach to etiology. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791071/
3 Sarah Sleziak Johnson, M. (2018, October 03). Physical activity is important for a child's growing body. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from www.canr.msu.edu/news/physical_activity_is_important_for_a_childs_growing_body
4 Dahl, R. (2007, September). Sleep and the developing brain. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978403/