7 Ways and Tips to Help Your Child Gain Weight

Why is your child not gaining weight? He may have a problem or not be stimulated enough to eat. We tell you how to help him in several ways.
7 Ways and Tips to Help Your Child Gain Weight
Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor

Written and verified by the nutritionist Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

At the pediatrician’s clinic, it’s common to hear “I need some advice to help my child gain weight”. Many parents show great concern when their little ones aren’t growing as they think they should.

In this sense, Dr. Rupal Gupta emphasizes that weight and height gain in the first years of a child’s life should be rapid and constant.

However, there may be growth problems. We’re talking here about children who don’t gain weight according to typical growth statistics, with their height also being affected. In extreme cases, weight loss can lead to malnutrition and intellectual impairment, as reported in MedlinePlus.

7 ways you can help your child gain weight

There are several factors that can influence a child’s failure to gain weight. There may be inadequate nutrition, illnesses, and lack of motivation, among others. The important thing is to detect the cause and help them.

If you feel this could be the case with your child then read on for some important tips and advice. Check them out and apply them in your family!

1. Focus on the causes

As a parent, you should investigate the possible causes of your child’s weight loss. Some psychological problems lead to low interest in food and certain illnesses prevent food intake.

For example, gastrointestinal disorders or food allergies can cause weight loss. School peer pressures also lead to eating disorders. Take into account that hyperactivity burns calories easily.

2. Select foods balanced in nutrients and calories

The Spanish Association of Pediatrics states that the feeding of preschool and school children should be varied, balanced, and individualized. Vary the amount of food or the way of preparing it.

Combine complex carbohydrates from pasta, bread, and other cereals with a portion of fruit and a portion of vegetables. Accompany it with some protein, such as eggs, meats, cheese, or milk. While recovering weight don’t have too much fiber, as, according to nutritionist Montse Vilaplana, it takes away their hunger and can trap some nutrients.

Being able to apply variety in the preparation of dishes is a strategy that stimulates appetite.

3. Attend to the quality of the calories they eat

It’s not about the quantity of calories they eat, but the quality. Of course, a nutritionist can tell you how many you need to eat per day.

Avoid sodas, fast food, sweets, candy, and ice cream. They’ll only provide empty calories that will fill your child’s stomach without helping them to build muscle mass.

According to the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama, 90% of your child’s energy needs should come from carbohydrates from cereals, and only 10% from simple sugars, such as fruits, dairy products, and sucrose.

Unsaturated fats are recommended, such as flaxseed, olive oil, canola, corn, soy, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, and other nuts. Oils can be added to salads, meats, or used to prepare mayonnaise or homemade dressings.

Whole or full-fat dairy products can become your allies. In addition to fat and calories, they have other important nutrients for the child. We recommend 2 or 3 glasses a day for children from 2 to 5 years old.

4. Include snacks that help

A group of pediatricians suggests that you should encourage the greatest number of meals at home. From 15% to 20% of the caloric intake will be for snacks.

When preparing them you should balance them in proteins, vitamins and minerals. Promote the consumption of fruits, cereals, homemade snacks, cheese, vegetable bits, flans and atoles with milk.

5. Drink water and fluids at the right time

Water should accompany all meals. But some experts suggest that the best time to drink it is after eating.

Explain that they can’t drink water before a meal because it fills their stomach. Only a few sips will be allowed to help them ingest safely and comfortably.

Among other liquids, you could consider some preparations indicated by the nutritionist, such as those rich in protein and calories, fruit smoothies, milkshakes, and whole milk. They can go well as a snack or after a meal.

6. Change eating behavior

Eating behavior is also part of our tips to help your child gain weight. The first thing to check is the number of meals per day. A child has a small stomach and you should distribute the calories in 5 or 6 meals a day.

Become more enthusiastic about food, without making them see it as a punishment or something negative. You can’t force them to eat everything if they don’t want to. What you can do is turn off the TV or any games that may distract them.

You and the rest of the family should be their role model at the table. Include healthy habits, incorporate new foods, and eliminate unhealthy ones. Don’t buy fast food when out.

On the other hand, you can encourage regular exercise, especially in older children. According to the journal Archives of Sports Medicine, a routine of physical activity will help to gain muscle mass and gain weight. It is described that exercise can also stimulate appetite.

7. Yes, don’t force them to eat

Neither by hook or by crook. Serve them what they really need, but if they’re going through a period of lack of appetite, serve them less than what they’re used to. If they want more, they’ll ask for it. If they don’t eat it all, take the plate away. If they change their mind and ask for the plate back, give it back to them.

If they ask you to help them eat, do it! But don’t offer first, let them decide what to do, without pressure, coercion, the threat of punishment, or blackmail, such as no dessert if they don’t eat. Don’t save their food from lunchtime and then serve it at dinner; let them eat what everyone else has for dinner.

They should never associate anything related to food with some form of punishment.

If they don’t eat at the times the family is usually does, they want to eat between meals. It’s important, in these cases, to have a portion of nutritious food on hand, so that they don’t only satisfy their hunger with treats. A banana, yogurt, or a homemade snack will make up for this crisis of inappetence lasts, which is usually temporary.

These and other recommendations are made by pediatrician Carlos Gonzalez in his book Mi niño no come, consejos para prevenir y resolver el problema (My child doesn’t eat, tips to prevent and solve the problem ). In this book, he asks parents to arm themselves with some scales to help them monitor their child’s weight. He proposes the following experiment:

1. Weigh your child on the scales.
2. Don’t force your child to eat.
3. Weigh your child again after a period of time.
4. If he/she hasn’t lost a pound, continue without forcing him/her to eat and go back to step 2.
5. If they have lost one kilo, the experiment is over.

Gonzalez says that, if the experiment works, then your life, your child’s life and your whole family’s life will change.

Healthy eating habits for your child to gain weight

Sowing and cultivating healthy habits in our children will help them to grow according to their age. So let’s check out some that will encourage good nutritional development:

  • Offer a good breakfast: Breakfast is the meal that injects energy to start the day. Get them into the habit of eating the right breakfast with milk, fruit juices, yogurt, and cereal.
  • Don’t let advertising select their snacks: Avoid all kinds of industrial products that they see in adverts.
  • Teach them that the best food is homemade: Homemade food is prepared with well-selected foods to help growth and development.
  • Let fun and creativity flow in the kitchen: It’s good for your child to feel that they’ve created the dish they’re going to eat. Let them cook while having fun, especially by garnishing with fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat slowly: Chewing food well helps digestion.
  • Sharing meals as a family: The collective act of eating as a family is a way for your child to socialize, learning different eating habits and new ways of relating to others.

Healthy foods you can give your child to gain weight

Among the tips to help your child gain weight, we’ll show you some food that will help your child to grow healthily. Keep the list handy to know what to cook at home and with what ingredients.

Eggs, lean meats, and dairy products

Protein-rich foods are essential for your child to regain lost weight. Eggs are very nutritious, as they contain all the amino acids that form muscle tissues. They’re very versatile for cooking and can be eaten 5 to 6 days a week.

Lean meats, chicken, and fish also nourish them with protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Cheese, yogurt and full cream milk are favorites for most children. They contain a lot of calcium and phosphorus to strengthen bones and teeth.

Dairy products have a good concentration of calcium that contributes to bone and dental health in growing children.

Legumes and cereals

Beans of different colors, peas, lentils, rice, pasta, bread, oats and barley should be combined to complement proteins. They are notable for their fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus content.


Nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds provide good quality protein, minerals and plenty of omega-3 fat. They can be eaten as snacks, in salads or as part of a main dish. Almond milk is an excellent choice for children with lactose intolerance.

Peanut butter and avocado

Peanut butter is a delicious source of energy that your child won’t refuse. It contains 52% vegetable fat and 22% protein. Its high energy content can help our children’s growth. It goes great as a spread on toast or crackers.

Avocado is another source of fat used to make toppings and spreads that children love. In addition, some researchers state that it has many health benefits.


Fresh or dried fruits, such as strawberries, apricots, apricots, and pineapple, among others, provide fructose, sucrose and glucose that are absorbed very quickly as a source of energy. You can prepare delicious jams or desserts and mix them with milk to have an energetic smoothie.

There are several formulas to help your child gain weight

With these tips to help your child gain weight we remind you that the first thing you need to do is to visit your health professional to evaluate their development and guide you on the feeding plan. Also, remember that the growth of the little ones is a matter for the whole family.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.