How to Fatten up a 5 Year Old

Updated on August 08, 2009
E.M. asks from Louisville, KY
27 answers

My daughter is 5 year old needs to gain weight. Im not worried about it because shes got the exact same build as i did (kids changed that!) But her doctor is freaking out and took her off her adhd medicine that was working! i almost burst into tears right there. I hate the idea of her eating french fries and nuggets everyday. what else can i give her thats could put some weight on her? shes a picky eater but i will take any ideas i can get. thanks!
p.s. she currently weighs 32 pounds

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answers from Memphis on

My sister's ped had her give her youngest son some milk with carnation instant breakfast every night after dinner. He was a little on the skinny side when he was younger and it was just to help him take in some extra calories.



answers from Charlotte on

My son had the same issues with his ADHD medicine and not gaining weight. His psychiatrist prescribed him an antihistamine (I think it was called cyproheptadine or something like that.). It's main side effect is weight gain. He gained 5 pounds in a month and we didn't change his eating habits at all.



answers from Nashville on

When I was her age, I had the same problem and my Dr. told my mother to send me to a family menber in another city for a month. The change was the best, I gained the weight needed because the food was nutritious but different, it may had been the same, but the food in a different house, tasted different, and the problem was solved.

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answers from Louisville on

You don't need tons of saturated fat to gain weight. Well cooked vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein will do the same. Don't forget the peanut butter and milk, of course. You don't want too much fat, you want muscle and bone. I have to agree that 32 pounds is too little for a 5 year old.

A common medical reason for low weight in children is Celiac's Disease. Have her tested. A gluten free diet can have her quickly catch up with her growth.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Greenville on

Oh, dear, I know just how your feel. My granddaughter was a tiny little thing and the doctors drove me crazy. She was sent to specialist who more or less accused me of not knowing she was anorexic or since I was overweight, I was starving her!! She takes right after her Dad - that's all.
But the concern is, when the child gets really sick, there is NO fat to burn and they can dehydrate very quickly and that's very dangerous.
Since she was perfectly healthy, she was put back on her ADHD meds. She actually lost weight when not on them, because she never stopped moving.
We went to a nutritionist who had me order some powder over the internet - none of the Pharmacies carried it. You can sprinkle it in soup, put in or on anything with moisture - like a baked potato. She gained back what she had lost and a little more. Her favorite food was salad (for lunch everyday) and steak. The doctors left us alone about the whole thing and she turned into a beautiful, well developed teen. Now, they say she looks like a model.
Check with a nutritionist to get the name and just keep loving her. Doctors can make her feel like there is something wrong with her when nothing is.
Heredity will always play a factor in the development of a child and not all are going to be "normal" and on the doctors' charts.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

My first question would be did she have a big weight loss or has she always been small? My cousin's daughter is 10 yrs old and weighs 42 pds. She is very skinny but always has been. She is on 54 mgs of concerta a day for ADHD and OCD. She takes several other meds not sure of them is Zoloft. Her doc told her that he was worried at first she would loose weight but it has helped her gain. If she would have lost weight they were gonna have to find a different ADHD med. She functions so well with it that they did not want to switch her. This is a little girl that could take an hour to get her shoes on because the socks have to be just right. She would have complete melt downs. If she is just skinny and has not experienced a big weight loss I would tell the doc that you want to continue the meds if it helps her. I have seen first hand what ADHD can do to a kid. I also have a 14 yr old step-daughter that could not sit still to save her life without her meds. She makes noises and fidgets so much that she was getting into trouble at school. The outbursts alone got her suspended several times. She is doing fine now on 36mgs of concerta. It is worth it to talk to your doc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

YOU are the best judge as to whether your child is healthy or not. Here's a book written by a pediatrician that made a huge impression on me
As long as she's eating 3 meals a day and a children's vitamin, she will be just fine :) (I make fresh smoothies for my kids every morning too. They are very nutritional and delicious!)
It seems wrong to push weight gain on a perfectly healthy child--especially in a society where now large numbers of children are struggling with obesity.
I would switch doctors, personally. I've heard great things about the "Growing up Pediatrics Clinic".
Best of luck! :)



answers from Nashville on

I would highly recommend asking your doctor for a referal to a pediatric nutritionist, then insurance may help with the costs. We consulted a nutritionist when our daughter got anorexic. We were given guidance for our son (with ADHD) to gain weight too. You don't want to give your child unhealthy or empty calories. There are ways to help your child gain weight that will also contribute to brain and body development. One doctor said "don't give him too much protein, because that can make him loose weight, then another doctor said,"make him ice cream shakes with protein", so a nutritionist can help you with those confusing, conflicting advices. We made our son ice cream shakes using a high calorie protein powder with omega-3 DHA and EPA called "All Natural Gainer" by Metabolic Response Modifiers (at Whole Foods). The doctor also put him on Cyproheptadine for one year. We also bought him BOOST (cheaper at Target or Walmart).It all worked like a charm; he gained 15 pounds this year and is now in the 50th percentile for his weight.He is no longer taking the Cyproheptadine. Suscribing to ADDitude Magazine and their weekly e-mail newsletters can help with ideas in all areas, even eating. God Bless You, S.



answers from Jacksonville on

I agree with get a new doc. Both my girls were less than 20# at 2 and our pediatrician was also freaking out. I just fed them healthy and one is now 14 and 110# and the other is 11 and just about 70#.
If you make a big stink about what they eat it will only backfire when she is a teen.
I'm sure you are doing a great job.



answers from Nashville on

How about some healthier things like cheese, yougurt, yogurt drinks, choco milk, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc Did the meds make her lose weight? If they did not then it should have nothing to do with it. Our daughter is 32 lbs and almost 4 and our son just turned 6 and is only 42lbs. I am sure your daughter is thin but doesn't sound unhealthy.



answers from Louisville on

How much does she weigh??? Has she had other medical problems in the past? I ask this because my son is also 5, born in April 04, and weighs 32 pounds. He had heart surgery at birth and with a pacemaker sitting on his tummy has never really eaten much at one helping. I like the other ideas of eating healthy food. Even though the junk will help her gain weight, it will cause other health issues esp when she grows up thinking she can continue to eat that way.

His docs were concerned at first, but I blew them off. As a baby, we added vegetable oil to his breast milk, but after going to whole milk, I stopped adding things. He does now enjoy a Nutripals drink once a day between meals but otherwise eats what we eat. He's still healthy. Yes the ADHD meds can cause problems with weight gain because most that are used act like amphetamines, they increase the metabolism and decrease appetite. I do have one piece of advice that my mother-in-law gave me when my daughters were 35 pounds from ages 3 to 6....wait till she starts school, she'll start eating much much better! If that's her problem. I can't wait! My son starts monday! Another note, I switched the family to skim milk and noticed my son's muscles getting "thinner." So he has been returned to whole milk. The protein and fat content are necessary for his situation.
My very best to you and I hope you don't worry too terribly much. It would be easier to know her weight but if it's around 30 pounds, I wouldn't be too concerned. Take care!



answers from Raleigh on

Please dont feed her junk just for the sake of appeasing a Doctor!!

I agree with another person, time to find a better Doctor.

Feed her High calorie Healthy foods!
Good fats like Olive oil, canola oil flax oil can all be added to foods to increase the calories without stressing her out about eating more food.

The last thing you want is for this to become a control issue, that leads to eating disorders. Make sure she knows she is fine the way she is & just increase the calories of what she already eats.

If you had the same build as a child, and she is thriving, then it is probably safe not to put too much emphasis on the issue.

Make her milkshakes and add protein powder, that will add nutrition and calories without making her eat more food.

Olive oil in her spaghetti sauce, butter up her veggies, powdered milk in her regular milk. Almond butter, soy butter, sunflower seed butter to shake things up so she doesnt get sick of peanut butter. Nuts and seeds are dense, healthy choices.

Here is a page I found that breifly describes healthy, dense foods that are better for weight gain:

good luck to you. Use YOUR good sense in this matter. You know your daughter better than any Doctor or thier charts & stats. Every child is different. Make sure she knows there is nothing "wrong" with her or her weight. Protect her self image & self esteem.

P : )



answers from Wheeling on

Get a different doctor, unless YOU think it's a problem tha she's slim/skinny!! You can add some natural fats (whole milk, butter, sour cream, etc) if you think it best.

I am a firm believer that any child who eats, sleeps, pees, poops, has energy and is alert and happy is HEALTHY! Look at all the obesity in the USA and don't try to get a child to 'gain weight' if they meet/exibit all the above stated traits. Teaching them to overeat is a real no-no. If she's already ADHD, she doesn't need more 'energy' or sugar or food colors or french fry grease in her system. I'm sure you've gotten a lot of replies, but I had to add my 2-cents' worth! LOL I'm a 52 yr old mom to 4 adults and 'mom-mom' to 3 little ones [who I've had all week! : )

God bless!



answers from Raleigh on

Gaining weight with greasy and/or fatty foods will not help her down the road as that kind of diet will lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, even stroke as an adult.

Instead, feed your daughter healthy foods, make sure she's taking a multi-vitamin, and talk to your doctor about possible giving her protein shakes. Body builders and athletes tend to eat high-protein diets because they quickly gain muscle. You want your daughter to gain weight, not fat.

Offer her frequent small meals. Offer her foods high in nutrients - not high in fat. Here are some ideas on foods:

*If she drinks 2%, 1%, or skim milk, offer the next higher up level. So if she drinks 1%, offer 2%. If she drinks 2%, offer whole milk. There is a big different in taste between lower-fat milks and whole milk so she might have to work her way up to whole milk.

*If she likes Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, make it with (whole) milk instead of using water.

*Add 2 tbsp of dry powdered milk to every glass of milk she drinks. This will greatly increase the calories being provided in the milk.

*Serve heavy cream with fruit. Think peaches n cream, strawberries n cream, etc

*Add cheese to almost anything - salads, soups, chili. Melt it in scrambled eggs, baked or mashed potatoes, broccoli or other veggies. Make a cheese dip by melting cheddar cheese in a saucepan. Add whole milk, some garlic and a dash of salt to taste to add a kick to the flavor. Dip bread (like Italian or French), raw veggies like carrots/broccoli, cauliflower etc, breadsticks, in the melted cheese.

*Substitute Boost, Ensure, or Pediasure in recipes that call for milk, or make sure to always use whole milk when cooking.

*Use ice cream or frozen yogurt for a frequent snack or before bed treat. You can top waffles or pancakes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit to add a bit of flavor and a bunch of calories to breakfast.

*Add peanut butter to crackers, fruit or vegetable slices, and smoothies.

*Add hard-boiled eggs to salads or casseroles.

*Give her sour cream to dip veggies, chips, crackers, etc.

*Offer her cottage cheese with fruit, or by itself.

*Offer her snacks that have protein - most easily found in meat. My son loves to snack on tuna that comes in a pouch - actually he will eat it right out of the pouch. You can mix with mayo or miracle whip and add some salt, pepper, and celery to make a paste and make tuna sandwiches.

Other things you can do is limit liquids until after mealtime if your daughter tends to drink a lot at the table. Avoid giving your daughter anything with caffeine as caffeine can decrease appetite. Keep your daughter active since active bodies need more fuel (food) so she'll be more hungry. Let her help in the kitchen as she may be excited about eating something that she helped to prepare. Make sure she has plenty of time to eat and doesn't feel rushed. If she's not hungry at snacktime, offer her a Boost or Pediasure shake so she's still taking in calories. She might not want to drink, either, but it's worth a try. If you can get her back on her meds, give her the meds after she eats since they reduce appetite and a lot of ADD/ADHD medications cause stomach upset. Have dessert every night - but not right after dinner. Offer dessert about a half hour before bed.

My son (8) is also very thin and smaller than a lot of his classmates. However, he is consistently gaining weight (even if it is only a pound or two a year!) and growing as well, so I don't worry too much. I offer at least one of the suggestions above to him at least once a week. He is ADD (without hyperactivity) but not currently on meds as I am trying other methods - interventions, re-directions, etc to help him focus. He started Third grade two weeks ago though, and this might be the year he starts meds. Once he does, I'll be adding calories to his diet several times a week!



answers from Jacksonville on

Get a new Dr. If she's eating the 4 food groups then your Dr. needs to chill. My son is on aderall and a baby had gotten to his meds when they fell and I call poison control and they said the it was not harmful. So no matter what your Daughter weighs it shouldn't be a problem.



answers from Wheeling on

You need to insist that your doctor refer you to a nutrionist who specializes in pediatrics. If he is that concerned about her weight, that should not be a problem. Be proactive and check with your insurance company before you call him and see who is covered on your list, so you can give him names of the specialist your insurance will pay for.

If your doctor doesn't seem interested, I would get a second opinion, esp. if she is adhd. You need him to refer you to an ADHD specialist. Fight for it.

My 5 year old (almost 6) weighs 39 pounds. My doctor said as long as he was consistent, he was ok. (we finally broke 10% for weight on those charts) My husband weighed 138 lbs and was 5'8" at his high school graduation and then grew 4 inches and gained appropriate weight his first year in college. Since she is built like you, she may grow like you.

You may need another pediatrician. good luck.

Good luck.


answers from Charlotte on

Hi, E.

I had the same problem (not being able to gain weight) when i was younger (wish i did NOW lol) anyhow, my doctor said to drink milkshakes.

Hope it helps, it did help me some but i cannot say i drank a lot of them as I am not that big on ice cream but, most kids are.
Good luck,



answers from Clarksville on

I would say to stay away from the fried foods except maybe 1 time a week... but fries and nuggets can be baked for a healthy alternative. You can also do sweet potato fries as well. I think that if you do milkshakes with lunch and dinner it will help... but again a healthy alternative would to add some fruit and wheat germ. I know the picky eaters so I do a lot of cooking from the Sneaky Chef to add veggies and fruit into almost everything.

Good luck... but I dont see that she is that bad... I was a skinny tall lady at that age also. I didnt gain the weight until I was pregnant so you might want to get another opinion from another doctor especially about the ADHD meds... something I believe is much more important than the weight gain for her and your sanity. I have 2 ADHD kids who are still waiting for meds and are already small.

Good luck...A.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Asheville on

Have you thought about changing doctors? My son is five and weighs about 30lbs. I have been concerned, but my doctor sais he is just going to be small. His height and weight coincide with each other. With you being small growing up it just makes sense that she is genetically like you. But if you feel good about your doctors advice how about stuff like ensure, whole milk, several snacks that are pretty healthy during the day. Peanut butter on celery, apples and cheese etc. Good luck, I hope you can get a reasonable solution with her medicine.



answers from Raleigh on

I had a sitter who was concerned about my (at the time) four year old son who had maintained the same weight and size for 2 years. She started giving him milk with ovaltine drink mix (chocolate) and he started putting on weight. Now he is 17, 5'10" and weighs 220. I'm not sure if we turned on a switch that shouldn't be turned on, but from 5 years old on, he has struggled with his weight. Though he thinks he should lose weight even now, I don't. He is broad shouldered and very muscular. In your case, I would get a second opinion about the adhd and diet concerns.



answers from Jacksonville on

I have just had to start watching what my son eats because he is underweight. He is going on 13, is in the 96% for height but only 3% for weight. The doctors main concern is that if he were to get sick and throw up or diarhea, he has no "fat" on his body to sustain him and would probably have to go in the hospital. With the swine flu going around like crazy here, we can't take that chance. I googled calroie counter and found a site that is free and you put in everything that is eaten during the day. It keeps track of the calories to give me an idea of where my son is. A couple of days, he barely broke 1100 calories. The doctor wants him to eat between 2000-2500. I got him some of the equate drinks from Walmart, they have 300 calories per drink. My son is going with the flow, but if he says his full, I wait about an hour and then try to stay as healthy as possible but still get him the calories he needs.



answers from Fayetteville on

A few things, my son used to be on the really small side, but he gained weight and doing fine. No I didn't give the and junk food. I was told and it worked,was more protein. Because he was so small I had to make sure he was getting the right nutrition, eat eats plenty (and I do mean plenty for a five year old) of fruits and vegetables. He gets most of his protein from fish (not processed fish sticks or sandwhiches) and peanut butter. I would definitely talk to a pediatrician who specializes in nutrition. Did taking her off her meds work. I used to be on medicine for ADHD when I was younger (Ritalin) I gained quite a bit after I was taken off. Whatever you decide diet or medicine wise go talk to someone who knows more about this topic.


answers from Lexington on

For starters you need to get another doctor! This sort of thing just drives me nuts!
If your daughter is meeting all her mental and dexterity milestones LEAVE HER ALONE! My daughter is 4 months shy of being 5 and she is just now 30 lbs! Her doctors have no problems with her weight. She is ACTIVE, smarter than most her age and eats healthy and this age are little engines, burning up everything they consume within the hour. There's no way a normal, active child (unless it's in the genes) will gain weight on a steady basis. Don't let your doctor compare your child to others when she is nothing like them. Now a days we are basing normalcy on lazy, over weight children and parents and that it WRONG!
I'd RUN from her doctors! Unless you want a life time of worry and causing her to have an eating disorder over the course of her lifetime.
She's fine, leave her alone!



answers from Raleigh on

Hi I am in the same boat as you I have an 8 yr old that weighs 40 pounds but her doctors do not say anything to me about it they are not concerned cause I was very small till I hit 10th grade. Her father is a very very skinny person.I don't give her a lot of frozen chicken nuggets and fries but I do cut up real chicken and fry it to make homemade nuggets and real potatoes to make fries.She also doesn't eat alot of meat so I fix gravy so she can put that on it. She loves peanut butter so I have a lot of it. You would think she would be tired of peanut butter sandwich everyday but she takes one to school everyday, but I sub it with the frozen crustables to change up a little. Sorry Im not much help cause she still is not gaining weight, but she has been tested for hdhd also. She is a very busy little girl. I dont wish to put her on meds at this time. since the divorce she is alittle more into everything. Since she is so busy her doc said that she will not gain that much weight cause she is burning it. but she is very healthy.Everytime we go to the doc and she has gained anything we go for icecream cause it is a big deal. LOL



answers from Nashville on

peanut butter and honey sandwiches.... grilled cheese. Avoid the fried foods, they add weight but can cause other weight and health issues. Snack on peanuts or yogurt. mac n cheese. these are things they usually like and they will add on some calories in a more healthy manner. Add a milkshake with her lunch. Things like that are better for her, and will help.



answers from Fayetteville on


See if you can find some pictures of you before kids, take them with you, ask your mom how you were at this to you daughter's doctor further about how her overall growth she growing at the same rate, height, weight, etc. Press for specifics on why he is suddenly concerned about her weight.

If you can, please go find a second opinion about your daughter...I hate to say don't trust your child's current doctor, but a second opinion can put your mind at ease.

NOW for more healthy options to "put a little weight" on her. Switch from low fat to whole milk, try full fat yogurt and cheese, go for lean high protein foods (chicken, lean cuts of red meat, eggs). Nuts are great - they are high in good fats, peanut butter. Whole grain pastas are great as well (I think even Kraft Mac & Cheese now has a whole grain option) If she doesn't want to eat veggies or fruits, try getting baby food and sneaking it in to favorite recipes (I have a friend who has to do that for her oldest son and it works)

Good Luck and as hard as it is - relax. You will all be better if you are relaxed.


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