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National Nutrition Week – Should you worry if your child is underweight?

Your skinny child might not be unhealthy after all.

Every mother is obsessed about their child s body weight. Whether a child is overweight, underweight or just healthy, mothers tend to lose sleep over it. While, some children might need attention with respect to their weight others could be just normal even if they look underweight or skinny. Appearance skinny, bony or thin isn t the ideal way of judging a child s health and development milestones. Here are four tricks that can help a fussy eater eat better.

Each individual is born different, with different constitutional makeup, unique genetics and specific cultural inheritances. So, no two children can be the same even if all the parameters are the same. In fact, a lot depends on your child s body code. Body codes determine how your child looks, think, behave, illness predispositions, nutrient needs and overall health status. The first key to identifying your child s nutritional needs is to identify her body type, says Dhvani Shah, pediatric nutritionist, Mumbai. Here are 12 foods that can help build your child's immunity.

What are body types

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Body structures for children world over are broadly classified into four categories. They are:

1. Brainy structure: These kids have an appearance that portrays a bigger head and a slender body. Here are some general features of a brainy kid:

  1. Long and slender body
  2. Narrow shoulders and hips
  3. Large head
  4. High forehead
  5. Thin elongated face
  6. Finely chiseled features

2. Muscular structure: They look chubby and have a good amount of flesh all around the body. Some general characteristics of a muscular kid are as follows:

  1. Heavy, muscular, fleshy, well proportionate body
  2. Broad shoulders, strong arms and legs
  3. Full, fleshy, muscular features
  4. Square chin, broad cheekbones

3. Bony structure: As the name suggests these children are skinny and look thin. They are every mother s nightmare and are regarded as underweight and at times malnourished. However, that might not be the case always. Here are some characteristics of bony kids:

  1. Tall, thin, lean
  2. Long limbs
  3. Broad shoulders
  4. Sunken cheeks
  5. Square, angular chin

4. Fleshy structure: They might appear, what you may call, fat. However, that doesn't mean they are unhealthy. Some general characteristic of fleshy kids are:

  1. Broad, rounded
  2. Round or oval face with rounded features
  3. Broad abdomen and hips
  4. Flabby muscles

It is important to know your child s body type as her nutritional needs, health and weight depends on it. This also means that if your bony child is overweight it is a sign of concern and vice versa, says Dhvani. Read to know if you should worry when your child is overweight.

How to know your baby s body type

A paediatrician or a paediatric nutritionist is the best person to tell you about your child s body type and required necessary nutritional needs. However, judging your child s codes only through the physical appearance on your own might not be a good idea, so get help from an expert.

When should you worry?

While not all children might qualify as healthy according to what Indian mothers think chubby, rounded and pleasingly fat. Their body type is what will help you to know if your child needs nutrition or medical care to get back on optimum weight level. Even a bony child can be overweight, and an overweight child can be skinny, both of which are signs of concern. However if your baby is 10 to 15 percent below the ideal weight or even above of it, there is no reason to worry, says Dhavni.

However, an underweight child will show certain signs that should make you worry:

  • Being cranky all the time
  • Irritable
  • Lack of attention or withdrawing from social interaction
  • Being constipated or passing foul smelling stool
  • Suffering from frequent infections like cold, cough and allergies
  • Feeling sleepy most of the time
  • Feeling lethargic or restless
  • Suffering from body ache after playing outdoors

If your child suffers from these symptoms and is below the ideal weight range, it is sensible that you pay a visit to your nutritionist to get things back on track.

Here is the ideal height and weight chart for you to follow:

GirlsLength/Height(cms)Weight (kgs)BoysLength/Height(cms)Weight (kgs)
AgeMeanRange (3-97) CentileMeanRange(3-97) CentileAgeMeanRange (3-97) CentileMeanRange(3-97) Centile
Birth49.145.6 - 52.73.42.5 - 4.3Birth49.846.3 - 53.43.32.5 - 4.3
153.650.0 - 57.44.53.4 - 5.7154.751.1 - 58.44.53.4 - 5.7
257.153.2 - 60.95.65.4 - 7.0258.454.7 - 62.25.55.4 - 7.0
359.855.8 - 63.86.45.1 - 7.9361.457.6 - 65.36.45.1 - 7.9
462.158.0 - 66.27.05.6 - 8.6463.860 - 67.87.05.6 - 8.6
564.059.9 - 68.27.56.1 - 9.2565.961.9 - 69.97.56.1 - 9.2
665.761.5 - 70.07.96.4 - 9.7667.663.6 - 71.67.96.4 - 9.7
767.362.9 - 72.68.26.7 - 10.2769.165.1 - 73.28.296.7 - 10.2
868.764.3 - 73.28.67.0 - 10.5870.666.5 - 74.78.67.0 - 10.5
970.165.6 - 74.78.97.2 - 10.9971.967.7 - 76.28.97.2 - 10.9
1071.566.8 - 76.19.27.5 - 11.21073.369 - 77.69.17.5 - 11.2
1172.868.0 - 77.59.47.7 - 11.51174.570.2 - 78.99.47.7 - 11.5
1274.069.2 -78.99.67.8 - 11.81275.771.3 - 80.29.67.8 - 11.8
1577.572.4 - 82.710.38.4 - 12.71579.174.4 -83.910.38.4 - 12.7
1880.775.2 - 86.210.98.9 - 13.51882.277.2 - 87.310.98.9 - 13.5
2183.677.9 - 89.411.59.3 - 14.32185.179.7 - 90.511.59.3 - 14.3
2486.480.3 - 92.512.19.8 - 15.12487.882.1 - 93.612.19.8 - 15.1
3090.784. 0 - 97.313.310.7 - 16.63091.985.5 - 98.313.310.7 - 16.6
3695.587.9 - 102.214.311.4 - 183696.189.1 - 103.114.311.4 - 18
4299.091.4 - 106.715.312.2 - 19.44299.892.1 - 107.315.312.2 - 19.4
48102.794.6 - 110.816.312.9 - 20.948103.395.4 - 111.216.312.9 - 20.9
54106.197.6 - 114.717.313.6 - 22.354106.698.4 - 115.017.313.6 - 22.3
60 months (5 years)109.4100.5 - 118.418.314.3 - 23.860 months (5 years)109.9101.2 - 118.718.314.3 - 23.8

Image source: Getty Images


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