On a diet at 15 months

My little angel is only 300 grams shy of 15Kgs at 15 months.  Almost everyone who holds her exclaims, ‘Weh! She is heavy.’ I don’t blame them because this was the weight she was expected to reach at 24 months. I remember she was almost 10kgs at 7 months and we have been monitoring her weight chart since then but the fact that she is tall for her age had made us look over the weight gain.

The pediatrician has been warning us but on our last visit, she was adamant that we must make major changes in her diet. Babies are expected to gain weight though there is a noticeable difference between breastfed and formula fed babies. The rate at which they gain weight until they double their birth weight is fast but slows down in a distinct way especially after the first birthday.

A rapid weight gain in babies and toddlers can be attributed to taking too many calories, medication, lack of exercise or a hormonal condition among a number of other reasons. When a baby has excess weight, crawling, walking, essential parts of a baby’s physical, and mental development are delayed. While having excess weight at a young age does not mean the child will remain overweight, it is best to prevent it as early as possible. I believe my daughter’s weight has also contributed to her not walking even at 15 months.

What can be done?

One of the most important things we have been advised is to watch her diet carefully. Babies need a high fat diet to support their growth so limiting their food intake when they are hungry is unthinkable but revision of their intake is necessary. We have now cut starchy foods to two times a week only. Therefore, sweet potatoes/potatoes, green bananas, arrowroots, and oatmeal are included in her diet every three days only. We instead do more of lean proteins and vegetables.

I have not introduced sugar to her yet but sweetened drinks such as packed juice and biscuits are also the main culprits to rapid weight gain. It is also recommended to limit the amount of milk they take in a day. The highest amount of milk a toddler should take is 500ml if they are to take a nutritious diet in a day. Therefore do more of breastfeeding (if possible) and give water instead of offering other drinks. Some studies also suggest that breastfeeding helps in maintaining a healthy weight.

Because of the cold weather we now have, kids are not going out much which means they have more time to be idle in the house or to sit in front of TV. Unlimited screen time is proved to be the cause of being overweight and obesity in children as well as effectuating unhealthy eating habit. A toddler must be active for the many calories to be burned, even if it is in the house. For toddlers like my daughter who have not started walking yet, the baby walker and other fun games like rolling over are best to solve this problem.

Chubby cheeks are too sweet to resist but when the weight gain is rapid and visible to the eye, it is good to ask why even if it is not captured in the growth chart. Consult your doctor before taking any measures.
This first appeared on The Standard on 13 August 2017

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