A mother’s story of an underweight child and tips for weight maintenance
Below is a special contribution to The Twin Source from Melanie, a Malibu mom and member of The Twin Source’s Consumer Research Team. Melanie is not a mother of twins, but she has experienced a fairly regular twin mom occurrence: Her son has been underweight since birth to the point of never being on the pediatric growth chart.
Many twin parents experience the “preemie” situation for one or both twins. The Twin Source asked Melanie to share her story not only because you are likely to relate to it, but also because her solutions and strength in dealing with the situation are inspiring. There are plenty of tips and lessons twin parents can learn from this special contribution filled with emotion and honesty.
At my son’s 3-month appointment, he was still wearing a newborn onesie. In fact, he was well below 0% on the pediatric growth chart, according to the small dot the doctor scribbled on his chart. My husband and I were concerned and shocked. Our pediatrician turned to us and said, “What? Neither of you are big people.” Even so, I was determined to go home and feed my child until he got on that chart.
At age 2, my son weighs 23 pounds. He’s still not on the chart, but he has maintained the same curve and is developing proportionately. He’s okay.
Even as a first-time mom, you know about the growth chart. You see your friends post growth chart stats on their Facebook pages or hear about it in casual conversations with new moms. “He’s off the chart,” they often say. Before I had my son, I don’t remember ever hearing about the small kid, the one who never made the chart.
Because my son was underweight, we had additional visits (outside of the standard visits) to the pediatrician’s office to check his weight. We were asked to increase his caloric intake by using pre-made drinks like Pediasure. While I wasn’t opposed to Pediasure, I felt it was more important to teach my child how to get calories through nutritional foods he enjoys vs. through a processed drink. I also didn’t want him to get confused between milk and Pediasure.
At first, I tried to control how much my son was eating and felt the need to "force" him to eat so he would gain weight. Then I changed my approach, based on a method I read about in "Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense." I made it a priority to make mealtime a positive experience for my son. This meant I no longer got upset or stressed-out if he didn't want to eat, and I no longer begged him to take one more bite.
Under this new approach, I was responsible for providing what, where, and when my son ate. He was responsible for how much he ate and if he ate at all. Maintaining a division of responsibility in feeding was an important lesson for me, and it’s a lesson we live by to this day.
Here are six weight-gaining “super foods” I use to enhance what my son eats:
- Safflower oil. Safflower oil is almost identical to olive oil in composition; however, it’s tasteless (great for hiding in foods) and contains Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and a little more omega-6 fatty acids than olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon to pureed baby foods, cereals, yogurt, and baked goods (pancakes, muffins, etc.).
- Yogurt. I introduced yogurt to my son at the age of 7 months, and it was love at first sight. I look for the smallest containers with the highest calories and fat. (Trader Joe’s has yogurt that is 140 calories per 4 ounces.) Add 1 tablespoon of safflower oil to boost calories.
- Egg. I introduced egg whites to my son at 9 months; after I made sure he wasn’t allergic, I moved to the entire egg. French toast soaked in a yummy egg batter is a nice mushy food that my son still enjoys today. Cook in safflower oil for additional calories.
- Avocado. Mash and serve by spoon or cut into cubes. Add safflower oil or mix with yogurt.
- Sunflower seed butter. Sunflower seed butter is high in protein and contains lots of fiber. It’s a nice alternative to the “tree nut” butters, such as almond butter and peanut butter, which are more likely to cause an allergic reaction. I didn’t introduce almond butter or peanut butter to my son until he was almost 2 years old. Now I use all three types of butters.
- Clif Bars. My pediatrician asked me to try protein bars. They are easy to pack in your diaper bag, and you can break off little pieces for your child to eat. We consider Clif Bars a “treat,” and my son loves them!
Melanie is an honest-to-goodness California mommy. Residing in Malibu, she is ever-conscious of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for herself and her family.
Please Note: The information contained on The Twin Source is not intended for medical diagnosis. Any medical information found on this site should be discussed with your health care professional. Always consult your doctor for any medical advice.