Help with a Underweight 2 Year Old..

Updated on August 31, 2011
E.C. asks from East Brunswick, NJ
17 answers

Hi, my son just turned 2 and he is only 23 lbs. We have been dealing with his slow weight gain since he was about 18 month, Our pediatrician did blood work and sent his poop to the lab last month and they all came back normal. We did put him on pediasure for about 2 weeks and he did gain weight at a faster rate in that 2 weeks, so we know that he can gain weight he just probably has fast metabolism and also genetically skinny like both my husband and I. Besides him being underweight he is a normal busy active 2 year old, eating is not on top of his list, he rather do other things and he is a very slow eater.. It takes about 45 mins for him to eat 5 stawberrie. He doesnt like too much meat either so as per our pediatricians request we put spoon full of olive oil in his food. II'd like to get some advice on what I can do besides what I'm doing already also like to get some feedback to see if he is eating too little ..he wakes up around 8 ...
Breakfast - 1 eggo, 5 grapes, 1 cookie , then I stop feeding him by 10
11:00am- 4oz juice
11:30am - lunch - about 25 pieces of spagetti penne with spoon of olive oil, 8 baby carrots, 5 stawberrie, one cracker
2pm- he gets a 10oz almond milk with half avocado and spoon full of toddler formula all in a milk shake form then he naps
4pm- he wakes up, I give him some dried fruit (mango or papaya) I stop feeding him by 5
6:30pm - dinner he gets bowl of rice with some minced meat , peas broccoli .. Then desert - yogurt or ice cream sometimes, he usually he's about 10 spoons of it.
8pm - 10 oz of the same milk shake he gets at nap time then he goes to sleep.

Any suggestion is welcome!

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So What Happened?

It would be so much easier if he likes meat or cheese or egg but he doesn't, I tried to make them in so many different ways so make it enticing and delicious for him but would try and as soon as he tast something he doesn't like, he spit it out.. he had milk allergy where he vommited and had diarrea so we switched to soy first then almond milk. ( but I think we can try again with whole milk) he doesn't even like peanut butter or jelly. I recognized he needs more protein in his food but it's hard with a picky eater...

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answers from New York on

I would let him eat what he wants when he wants. How about high calorie
foods, like peanut butter. Maybe he is a grazer and would just rather eat
small amounts all day. What about macaroni and cheese,



answers from Appleton on

Will he eat Mac & Cheese? It's high calorie, my kids and I like it with a can of tuna (drained) mixed in, add a healthy spoonful of veggies and some fruit. Good lunch for little ones.

Whole milk is another way to get some calories in him. I read many years ago that children who had whole milk until they were 5, then switched to 2% or skim had few cases of the flu or colds.

Are you putting syrup on his eggo? Maybe give him 1 1/2 eggos. Does he eat scrambled eggs with toast and maybe a piece of bacon or breakfast sausage?

Try mashed (whipped) potatoes for his dinner. And maybe cookies and milk for his afternoon snack.

As long as he is healthy and happy I wouldn't worry to much about his weight.

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answers from Seattle on

I don't see any of the typical high fat/high cal toddler foods in his diet. Does he not drink whole milk? Cheese? What about other forms of protein? Meat balls, lunch meats etc. - you can make all of that at home and refrig. if you don't want to get the processed stuff from the store.
It seems like your diet is very healthy and I commend you for that, but it looks like he is eating a lot of carbs and very little fat/protein (all the fruit, eggo, crackers, rice...). Toddlers need healthy fat, not only to gain weight but most importantly for proper brain development.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

That's a ton of food for a 2 year old. Look, not everyone is going to grow up to be a sumo wrestler. If he has rosy cheeks and plenty of energy, quit trying to fatten him up, and just let him be the size he is! My little one is very small for her age (15th percentile in height and weight), which was a shock to us at first because my husband and I are both 6' or taller, and our older daughter is well above the 95% in height, and about 75% for weight. We finally just had to accept that our younger child will never be huge. That's just not genetically how she is. It's not fair to compare her to other children because she's not them! She eats less because it doesn't take much to maintain a 40 lb body mass (40 lbs, and she is 6.5 years old!). But she's cute as can be, and has tons of energy, so we let her decide how much she's going to eat.

Just accept your son's size for what it is, and feed him the healthiest food you can so he gets all the nutrients he needs. That's all you should do! And then, don't give his size another thought!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I know it's so hard, isn't it? My 12 yo is 62 lbs. His BMI has dropped even lower - it was always less than 5th percentile, but held steady. This year, it dropped on the curve. My ped thinks I'm not feeding him. He acts as though I am deliberately not giving my son enough to eat. Seriously??

My husband is small. He is 5'8 and weighs 135. I used to worry about my son being so skinny, but I don't anymore. He's very healthy, and I figure he takes after his dad.

Besides, those numbers they use are based on kids today - many of whom are WAY overweight. So I would like to see my son's measurements against a chart from 1985. I'll bet he'd be above the 5th percentile.

Just feed him whatever healthy foods he likes, and as much as he wants. He will start eating more when he gets a little older. (though I think 25 penne pasta is pretty darn good!)


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I also suggest that you needn't worry about his size if he's healthy. Is the pediatrician concerned or is he only helping you with your concerns? He's eating plenty of healthy food.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree with the other post about adding protein and I think he needs more milk. My daughters are both in the 25th% for weight and 95th% for height, so they are very slim and my older daughter was almost diagnosed with failure to thrive when she was younger-- so I understand what you're going through. I wouldn't worry too much, but I would add more cheese and other dairy products to get protein and calcium and calories-- stick with whole fat stuff too. And why does he get a cookie for breakfast? Maybe save that for a snack and add an egg or yogurt at breakfast. You could also try keeping things out for him to graze on since he's such a slow eater. Keep pretzels or crackers or something out for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My 2 1/2 year old was diagnosed w/FTT (failure to thrive) around 15 months...we cut his juice & gave him a sippy cup of water it seemed to increase his appetite. I would make him banana smoothies w/bright beginning pediatric drink (alot like pediasure) or w/yougurt or ice cream, breakfast I would do oatmeal & add a very small amount of butter & use milk instead of water. My little guy loves pigs in a blanket, crescent rolls brushed w/melted butter & honey. After talking w/his GI doctor, nutritionist & pediatrician I was told to increase his fat intake anyway I could even in my cooking for him (not as a whole family bc we definitley don't need the weight :) I would bake him a piece of chicken breast rolled in breadcrumbs then drizzled w/a olive oil butter mixture if I made him plain pasta I would also do the same drizzled w/oilve oil butter mixture he also loves veggies roasted broccoli drizzled w/olive oil then baked in oven, oven roasted potatoes the same, peas or green beans steamed w/butter. I think we had him up to 1300 calories a day. He weighs almost 28 lbs now. We also did all the bloodwork, stool samples everything came back normal. He is severly allergic to peanuts but otherwise he's a healthy, happy very busy little boy. He also would sit & eat more w/a dvd on our little portable player : )



answers from New York on

I have twin boys who will be 4 in a week. One is 28 lbs and the other is 32 lbs. My littlier one has been between 0% - 10% since birth. My Dr told us not to worry. But I will say he is a terrible eater. Your son eats great in comparison to mine. He only eats panckes, waffles, grilled cheese (not made in butter!!), parmesan pasta, chicken nuggets and french fries. He will drink choc milk every other day or so. I just started the Pediasure sidekicks which he likes. He eats NO meat other than chicken and no fruits or veg!! His brother eats great. He will not copy his eating habits. I know I have no advice, but just wanted you to know my son is only 5 lbs more and 2 yrs older!! Good Luck :)



answers from Atlanta on

I have a 3yo in a very similar situation (she's 24 lbs.). She was diagnosed as failure to thrive around 15 mos., and they tested her for everything. All turned out normal and she's very happy, healthy and smart. So while I do constantly think about what she's eating (or not) and try to get as many calories from everything she eats as possible, I try not to worry about her weight gain. She's just little (and her little sister is following the same path). It drives me crazy sometimes, but I'm learning just to do what I can, but let it go. She's not a crazy big eater most of the time (and yes, I think your son is eating just fine--great for most kids his age). I do give my daughter whole-milk products whenever possible (Dr. and nutritionist also said to add Instant Breakfast to her milk, which I've done ever since), and she's just now liking peanut butter, so I'm taking advantage of that! Add butter to everything...(veggies, rice, etc.). Haagen-Dazs is always in our fridge for when dessert is requested!



answers from New York on

Hi! I haven't read through every answer, so hopefully I'm not repeating.....have you tried goat milk? It's great for people with milk sensitivities and it's SO healthy! Our son was raised on it, after I stopped nursing, and it has been great. We get our milk from a certified goat farmer in CT...the milk is delicious and our son loves it. I can give you more info if you want....good luck!



answers from Columbus on

Skip the juice, and instead give him kefir. Lifeway kefir is available in our local grocery stores (Meijer & Walmart). Kefir is a yogurt drink; Lifeway offers 4 flavors (peach, blueberry, strawberry & pomegranet (sp?)). It's higher in protein than yogurt and actually has lots of other good stuff, and it's very tasty. If you can't find kefir, try the drinkable yogurt (like Dannon), but be sure to read the label and see what's in it, as some yogurt & yogurt drinks can be high in sugar.

And/or try a smoothie of 1 cup full-fat yogurt, 1 total cup of frozen fruit (blueberry, strawberry & banana is very yummy, 1 tsp wheat germ, 1 tsp ground flax seed, and 1-2 T whey powder or soy protein powder). You can add a bit of half & half; it blends in a blender to the consistency of a milkshake and it's very yummy, and actually pretty nutritious. This also makes really good popsicles (sp).

For more protein, try cheese (hard cheese, or cottage are both good), black beans or other beans (I open a can of black beans and drain them, pat them dry & lay them on wax paper over a cutting board & freeze them; for whatever reason, he loves them cold). Try peanut butter, almond butter or soy butter with bread or waffles or whatever. And switch all your grain products (from spaghetti to tortillas to bread) to whole grain products. Even Gold Fish come in whole grain these days! :)



answers from New York on

My 2.5 year old daughter is also slim--24 lbs. But the doctor is not worried. She eats slow and does better if I feed her a few bites toward the end of the meal. Also, she doesn't stay interested in sitting at the table long enough to eat that much. Sometimes I let her get up and then feed her a few bites when she is on the run. I'd rather she sit for meals but occasionally it is better for her to eat.

Have you you tried other kinds of protien? My daughter loves nuts and beans but not so much meat. Also the texture matters, she doesn't like things that are chewy or hard. Many veggies she eats cooked but not raw.



answers from New York on

I can't say much, as my LO is only 24 lbs at 3 yrs old, but I do know that if he's happy & healthy not to worry too much. It is really dependent on the doctor as much as the child's development. We have a "don't worry" kind of doc, other doctors worry.

I was the same way, and I remember my mom giving me shakes with a raw egg inside! I was always thin, until my 30s, but always healthy. So I figure she's just taking after me. Not a bad thing, given how many overweight kids there are.

Oh, we do everything high-calorie if we can, especially yogurt and ice cream. We've discovered that if she knows an ice cream dessert is coming, we can get her to take more bites of dinner!



answers from Los Angeles on

My son, who is 2 1/2, does some of the same things.
I have to "work" to get him to eat.
Somethings I've learned?
I try EVERYTHING to see if he will like and eat it.
I have found taking him to a local cafe (La Bou that has a full menu) help.
I've taken him out to a local resaurant like a Denny's as they have a full
menu. Something about the diff envrionment and diff foods help.
I try all kinds of diff foods to see if I can entice his palate.
Both of these tricks help. Will he be a Sumo wrestler? No.
I give him Juice, avocado, cheese, quesadillas, home cooked hamburgers, spaghetti, fruit, cute veggies, juice, protein drinks to share w/me, Jamba juice smoothies, sandwiches, bbq chicken, steak, pasta.
I try everything.....he favors some things.


answers from Lincoln on

He sounds pretty typical to most toddlers (I've been a toddler teacher for 20+ years). Some days eat more, some less.

Worry when the drs worry and maybe not even then. "they" referred my daughter to Children's hospital in June for failure to thrive (at 21 months 17 lbs 4 oz - now 18 lbs 15 oz). They've run lots of tests another scheduled Sept 26, every other week weight checks, prescribed meds to increase appetite and one for reflux, added Thick-it to her pediasure (they switched her to that in Dec) because they did discover she aspirates when she swallows, and next week we start seeing a behavioral psychologist for her "feeding problems" (she stops eating when she's full - wish I had that problem!). She is developing fine - walking, talking, happy. Just little. She is on a 3 hour feeding schedule...Pediasure (nothing else to drink) at end of meals, no more than 30 minutes at the table. "they" also said the worry is because of the growth curve - if it stops or goes down then there is a concern.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

give him full-fat whole milk yogurt-Stonyfield is the only one i know that makes a full fat (or try trader joe's). i would give him that in between meals too instead of liquids. other that that, looks like he eats very healthy. maybe add some full fat butter to his veggies too. also full fat ice cream. good luck!

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