Is your child underweight? Is it bothering you? Fret not, being underweight does not necessarily mean your child will never recover. It is important to understand the causes and symptoms of being underweight and then use natural methods to remedy the condition.
Underweight Kids: Causes, Symptoms and Remedies
While some parents may be moaning the huge weight gain their children display, there are others all over the world who are very worried that their kids and teens are grossly underweight. If you fall under the latter parent category, you need to take some swift action now.
You need to realize that there’s a great difference between a child being underweight and being slim or thin. Though it is true that some kids have a slim build, yet being underweight could be the result of an emotional, health or dietary problem, which only a doctor can clarify.
Read More: 7 Must Have Oils in a Child’s Diet
Several factors like genetics and low-fat diets could cause children to be thinner than their peers. However, your doctor will be able to tell that your child is underweight if he finds that your child falls way below the fifth percentile for his height and age. By putting him through a battery of lab tests and some physical exams, your child’s pediatrician will be able to locate the chief cause for his weight loss or his difficulty in gaining weight.
Here are some leading causes for children being underweight:
Children often suffer from inflammatory bowel disease or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In chronic cases, underweight children vomit heavily or have diarrhoea. They could also refuse to eat food appropriate to their age because they complain of heartburn or bowel pain after a meal. Unexplained weight loss in a child results in the above two symptoms–chronic vomiting and diarrhoea.
If both parents are very thin, it’s highly likely that their child will inherit these genes. When a paediatrician finds that lineage causes a child to be very thin, he will not prescribe any particular treatment.
Eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia can show up during a child’s pre-teen years and can cause them to diet a bit too much so that they reduce their intake to a dangerous level or force themselves to vomit out a meal.
When a child’s thyroid gland is over active, it results in hyperthyroidism, which can lead a child to lose weight drastically. Such children are unusually irritable or nervous and through a physical exam, their rapid heartbeats are also seen.
These are some of the symptoms of child malnutrition, the first sign of his causes for being underweight:
- Weight loss
- Low muscle mass and low body fat
- Bone or joint pain
- Inadequate growth
- Fragile bones
- Mental changes such as anxiety, mood swings, confusion or learning problems
If you are concerned that your child may be underweight, consult your child’s physician. If your child has no underlying medical problems, then all he needs to do is to eat well and gain weight.
Diet: Here are some food suggestions that can combine nutrition and weight gain:
- Let your child eat potatoes, pasta, rice and bread.
- Give him soya milk and yogurt.
- Meals with eggs, meat, beans, eggs and fish in any combination will help him gain weight.
- Give him spreads and unsaturated oils judiciously.
- He should drink six to eight cups of liquids per day.
- Keep him away from sugary drinks or they will damage his teeth.
The United States’ Department of Health recommends that children aged six months to five years should be given Vitamins A, C and D drops. These drops are good for underweight kids who do not eat a nutritious diet regularly.
Physical activity for strength and energy:
It’s important for children to be kept active by encouraging them to play indoor and outdoor games and do all they can to keep their minds and bodies active and energetic. By doing so, they develop healthy and strong bones and muscles. And they have fun in the bargain too!! If your child is diagnosed as underweight, the amount of physical activity he should do may be lesser than normal kids and different too.
Check your child’s weight gain:
If you follow the guidelines given by your doctor, your child will soon have normal growth and development. As he grows in weight, take him to the pediatrician so that he may adjust your child’s diet lest he becomes overweight.
Along with all the help and advice that your child’s paediatrician gives you, your little one also needs rest and relaxation, words of encouragement and the confidence that he’ll soon be like his peers.