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Jun 8, 2006 02:45 PM

Help a Toddler Gain some Needed Weight

  • d

Any advice for nutrient dense foods for a 20-month old who is losing weight, due to JRA (she is unable to chew anything too hard/crisp and has trouble opening her mouth wide). We have offered smoothies, avocado (mashed with cream cheese as a dip for wheat pita or vegetables), and have added milk puddings and custards with egg. Any ideas are most appreciated, keeping in mind her taste for seasonings is limited. But she really loved the crab bisque, so go figure!

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  1. I would keep, keep, keep going with the avocado. It's really a super nutrient rich food.

    Also, have you thought of bean soups, lentils (dal) and grain salads (quinoa, groats, wheatberries) flavored with anything she likes?

    Lastly, you can make ice cream!

    1. I don't mean to be rude, I've got thin, VERY picky twins and I would suggest asking the pediatrician for advice and possibly a referral to a really sharp nutritionist. GOOD LUCK!!!

      3 Replies
      1. re: sel

        A Registered Dietician is whose help you need.

        1. re: Candy

          OK. Hopefully a sharp pediatrician will give a good referral.

        2. re: sel

          Have them checked for food allergies and celiac. Consider . Plant based digestive enzymes may be helpful. If they primarily eat carbs and dairy products, gluten and casein sensitivity may be the issue. Sometimes it's a texture, temperature, or smell issue.

        3. My 2 1/2 year old DS is also on the skinny side and always has been. Our problem is that he loves fruits, vegetables and water! None of which are heavy on the calories, so we have to sneak extra calories in.

          A suggestion I got from the pediatrician were to add powdered milk to his regular whole milk and to mix in his smoothies. It adds extra calories and DS doesn't notice any taste difference.

          I also add butter and/or ghee to a lot of his food. When I make him a scrambled egg, I use like a teaspoon of ghee to cook it in. I also add it to rice, dals (lentils), and his vegetables.

          4 Replies
          1. re: boogiebaby

            My wife is an M.S.R.D. (that is a Master of Science in Nutrition combined with an RD license).... she specializes in Intuitive Eating. There is very, very, very strong research that suggests trying to dictate When, What, How your children eats will only develop lasting food issues that will be very hard to break.

            Some studies claim that 80% of cases of obesitiy, bulimia, anorexia etc., can be attributable to the psychological damage done by well intentioned parents. You can find some good books on the subject on

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Thank you for pointing this out. Ellyn Satter is the authority to read on this subject. Her book How To Get Your Kid to Eat....But Not Too Much is where I would start - an old book but a classic with an excellent chapter on Feeding the Child with Special Needs. (another M.S., R.D. here. My specialty is pediatric nutrition)

              1. re: Junie D

                I agree with this advice with regards to picky eaters... But the OP has a young child with a chronic disease (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) who is actually LOSING weight from the inflammation of the disease, at a time when they should be gaining. This is quite different from a skinny, picky, but otherwise healthy child.

            2. re: boogiebaby

              nwow my daughter and i enjoy these high fat things together.

            3. You're definitely on the right track... Think about how you can add calories in everything she eats. Add butter/margarine to rice, pastas and even soups and stews. Anything you make w/water (eg soup) make with milk. Use the whole milk versions (rather than low fat) of all dairy foods or even mix half-and-half with milk. This age loves finger foods. Some high calorie finger foods I can think of off hand include ritz crackers, pieces of croissants, mozzerella cheese sticks. Also, she may drink her calories better than eat. Try carnation instant breakfast and milk and even mix in ice cream. Commercial supplements (eg Pediasure) are fine but somewhat costly and the nutrition in carnation instant breakfast is the same.
              I am a pediatric registered dietitian. Feel free to email me off site. But I bet her rheumatologist can also refer you to one that they work with..

              5 Replies
              1. re: suebe

                Question for the dietician: do some foods exacerbate arthitis pain?

                1. re: butterfly

                  I don't know the answer to your question as I work only w/children and not much w/rheumatology. Besides, we should keep this topic to homecooking. There used to be a website ( that could canser these things.

                  1. re: butterfly

                    my MIL has RA and has always claimed that too much sugar exacerbates the pain.

                  2. re: suebe

                    Hi I have a 22 month old girl that is under weight. She is almost 19 pounds, 32 inches long and 18 inch head cir. She is very active and healthy. She is a little picky- but she will eat yogurt (I give her the cream top whole milk type.), eggs - scrambled, mac and cheese, likes most beans, likes rice, waffles, peas, fish, some turkey, chicken, sweet potatoes/apple sauce, apples. The problem is I can't get her to eat a lot at each meal. She only eats a little ..all the time. What can I do. How can I pack the most in a small amount of food eaten?? Thank you

                    1. re: rockinmom76

                      Avocado is a good source of healthy fat.

                  3. w
                    Wayne Keyser

                    One thing to check with your doctor: my (older) kid has Crohn's, a digestive disorder, and was losing weight at a time when he should have been rapidly gaining. In his case, once he was finally diagnosed (these problems tend to stick too firmly to the field of whatever specialist you see first) a 15-pound box of bacon turned him around.

                    I asked the gastroenterologist "what about balanced meals"? He said "if he's getting the calories, he's getting the nutrition." A daily vitamin took care of any lingering concerns.

                    Of course, the situation may be different at 20 months - but my point is, in this case, I had to be shaken loose from my desire for perfect balance in favor of "anything he can keep down, and whatever Dad needs to avoid to lose weight, the kid needs to eat lots of to gain weight."