19 answers

18 Month Old Needs to Gain Weight

My daughter is 18 months old and only weighs 20 lbs. She was 5 lbs at birth. According to my mom, I too was very tiny as a child. My pediatrician said to give her more carbs and more junk food. I don't really give her too much junk because I want to teach her good eating habits. My husband has terrible eating habits and I was afraid that she would pick up on that. I'm afraid that I may have over-compensated. Any ideas on what I can give her?

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So What Happened?™

Thanks everybody. I feel like I got a ton of support as far as teaching my daughter good eating habits. She loves her milk, yogurt, cheese omelets, wheat bread, baked potato with margarine, macaroni and cheese, etc. She really is a good eater and will eat anything I put in front of her (which is why I try to be careful what I give her). She is reaching all her milestones and is proportionate for her weight. She is on the taller side (75th percentile for height). As far as "junk" goes...junk for her is pudding, crackers, any Gerber snacks, etc. I don't want to give her cakes and cookies and stuff like that. If she has those things while at someone else's house that's fine with me, as long as she is not getting them on a daily basis.

Featured Answers

Milkshakes!! they are delish and full of calories. when you make them you can even add fresh fruit, etc to make them a more healthy snack. make them with whole milk too more fat and calories. good luck

oh my gosh I would totally not worry about that - My daughter was only like 21 or 22 lbs at 18 months and she started at 7 pounds. She is super healthy and I never give her "junk" food. What about a lot of pasta and try adding carnation instant breakfast to her cups of milk.

More Answers

My son was also under weight...we gave him instant carnation vanilla powder in his milk. One package per day. It is loaded with protein. Also, we kept him on whole milk. Your pediatrician's advice does not sound healthy...maybe you should see a nutritionist.

Good luck.

I would not give her more junk food. I can't believe your pediatrician said that! You are right to teach her good eating habits. There are plenty of healthy foods you can give her which will help her gain weight -- whole milk is one of them, bananas, cheese, full fat yogurt, beef, breads, potatoes, pasta. Little kids do need more fat in their diet until they are at least 5, but you can get that through foods which are healthier than junk food, such as full-fat dairy. Some kids are just smaller than others, but that's not necessarily unhealthy. Good luck!

I want to agree with everyone that this sounds ridiculous and that you shouldn't give your daughter junk food. My son is 20 months and 20lbs, but he's following the growth curve. Also, we talked with a nutritionist once that said it's more important that your child is proportonal than the weight (i.e. if she's too fat and not tall enough then that is more of a problem). I just thought I'd throw in some other ideas for weight gain though that our pediatrician suggested (and stay away from junk food). She said that carbs and dairy are the way to go. She suggested that a good way to add calories is to put butter or oil on anything-- butter up the veggies, pasta, and even fruit. Also, you can use things like sour cream for your daughter to dip things in. I would stay away from the junk food 'cause it is more empty calories than anything else. It just causes sugar rushes, etc and you can get more substantial calories from eating foods that are good for you-- not all calories are the same. Lastly, someone suggested peanut butter, since your daughter is under 2 I would suggest NO peanut butter until she is two since peanuts before then can result in allergies. Good luck and I would think about getting a second opinion if it's possible.

I just wanted to let you know that my daughter did not weigh 20 lbs. until she was 2 years old. The pediatrician was worried and made us get a bunch of tests done. Turns out that nothing, thank God, was wrong. She's just going to be little. My husband and I are not very big ourselves. While going through the whole testing process we were worried sick about it. I don't really have any great ideas as to what you can feed her but I just wanted to let you know that we have been in your shoes and some kids are just small!
Our doctor did suggest giving her pediasure, but she would not drink it, even when we made it like a milkshake. If I think of anything else that we have tried I'll keep you in mind. In the mean time, good luck and remember, good things come in small packages!!!!

Hi J.,
my daughter was 6 pounds when she was born and all through my pegnancy that doctor's were worried that she was not growing enough....nearly drove me crazy with it. But I'm a small boned person, so naturally I would give birth to a small child...and she was small not unhealthy!! She was born perfectly healthy and beautiful. She will be 3 soon and she still only weighs 28 pounds. There IS NO right weight a baby should be as long as they are healthy and I hate to disagree with the "expert", but I don't think feeding your daughter junk food would be a good idea even if she were underweight, that would only make her unhealthy, bigger perhaps, but still unhealthy. It's my experience that kids at this age eat when they are hungry and don't when they're not. They rarely starve themselves. As for what to feed them, I can tell you my daughter LIVED on chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese for the longest time. She also went on a broccoli kick. Feed her what she'll eat. That's the main thing. Try to get in some vegetables if you can. Don't worry about getting her to eat a "balanced" meal so much now, it'll will probably be a losing battle right now. Don't worry so much about her weight. She sounds fine to me. As long as she is healthy, I don't think you have anything to worrry about. Hope this helped. Good Luck


I had premature twins, girl and boy, now 4 years-old. My daughter put on calories very well, but my son did not, a very picky eater. My pediatrician suggested power drinks, which included putting ice cream, carmel syrup or sherbert in the milk. My son loved it and he started gaining weight. He now better eating habits and is doing very well.

I hope this helps.

I would not increase her junk food. I agree with you. That might undermine your teaching her good eating habits and nutrition. Just offer her plenty of healthy foods. Does she like peanut butter? If so, that's a wonderful protein rich, no cholesterol, high calorie food. Yogurt makes great dips for fruit and veggies. If you increase carbs, try to keep them whole-grain based. I'd rather see a kid eating one slice of good whole wheat bread rather than three slices of icky white bread in a plastic bag. Try brown rice and whole wheat pastas. You can get very creative with cheese or olive oil based sauces for those. And if she's meant to be petite, so be it. That's her body type. My oldest was always off the charts. He was 40 pounds before he was 2, but he was a solid little guy, all muscle. Today, he's the same way. He's not quite 6' tall and weighs 195. He's just a mass of muscle. He's built like the men on my side of the family with barrel chests and lots of muscles. The docs were always saying that he was overweight, but there was never any flab on that little muscle-man! There is a normal range, but sometimes, what's normal for some people is very small or very large for others.

oh my gosh I would totally not worry about that - My daughter was only like 21 or 22 lbs at 18 months and she started at 7 pounds. She is super healthy and I never give her "junk" food. What about a lot of pasta and try adding carnation instant breakfast to her cups of milk.

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