Ideal weight for chil­dren

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Eq -

HAVE you ever won­dered why new­born ba­bies are weighed and mea­sured at ev­ery visit? Ev­ery time you bring your baby to the clinic or hos­pi­tal for a check-up, the doc­tor or nurse will place baby on the scales and then mea­sure his/her length. These fig­ures are then recorded on a chart for the doc­tor to ob­serve and de­ter­mine if baby is grow­ing well for his/her age.

One thing for sure, big, bouncy ba­bies make great eye candy and thin ba­bies ap­pear sickly. How many of us can re­sist pinch­ing plump cheeks or at least tick­ling a fleshy chin? It’s nor­mal for par­ents to worry if their baby is not grow­ing at a healthy rate. They dili­gently check out growth charts on the Internet and should baby’s weight not mea­sure up against the set of “nor­mal” fig­ures or falls to the bot­tom of the chart, they will feel guilty and are stressed.

Yes, a child’s weight is im­por­tant as a healthy weight is the first phys­i­cal sign of a per­son’s well­be­ing. But hey, don’t worry too much. Each baby is unique and as long as he/she seems fine and is drink­ing milk con­tent­edly, he/she is do­ing well.

Don’t for­get that not all ba­bies grow at the same rate nor do they have sim­i­lar mea­sure­ments at birth. An Asian new­born weighs an av­er­age 3.2kg while a Cau­casian new­born will tip the scales at an av­er­age 3.6kg. At six months, nine months and 12 months, Asian ba­bies weigh an av­er­age 7.5kg, 8.5kg and 9.5kg re­spec­tively.

Do re­mem­ber though, that such fig­ures are just rough stan­dards. Like hu­man adults, ba­bies come in all sizes, from petite to medium and large. Also, baby boys gen­er­ally have a faster growth rate than girls. Baby growth charts are good for a gen­eral “av­er­age” ref­er­ence only, so if you think there’s cause for worry, voice your con­cerns to the pae­di­a­tri­cian at the next visit to al­lay your fears and, more im­por­tantly, to elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­ity of a med­i­cal prob­lem.

Hav­ing said that though, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a close eye on your child’s food in­take, in terms of quan­tity and va­ri­ety, es­pe­cially af­ter six months of age.

Once ba­bies are weaned on solid food, there’s more rea­son to en­sure they are eat­ing right. Here are some tips.

1. Of­fer healthy, whole­some food such as veg­eta­bles in­stead of potato crisps, protein in­stead of cook­ies and fruit in­stead of ice­cream. En­cour­age them to go out­doors and run or jump in­stead of watch­ing tele­vi­sion on the couch.

2. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to over­feed. If your tod­dler does not want any more food, don’t force and pun­ish or coax with re­wards to make him/her clean up the plate.

In­deed, us­ing food to re­ward is the worst pos­si­ble act. For in­stance, telling chil­dren they can only have ice-cream “if they fin­ish their broc­coli” will re­in­force the idea that ice-cream is more “tasty” than meat and veg­eta­bles.

3. Don’t of­fer snacks in be­tween meals, even if your tod­dler has not eaten much ear­lier. They are able to sur­vive a few hours with­out eat­ing and will not come to any harm. Don’t give milk either and do of­fer wa­ter in­stead of soda and even freshly squeezed fruit juice.

When ba­bies reach 12 months, the growth rate usu­ally slows down slightly and picks up again af­ter 24 months. Don’t worry. This is be­cause at 12 months, tod­dlers be­gin to lose their “baby fat” since they are now more ac­tive phys­i­cally. They have learnt to walk, run and are get­ting more bois­ter­ous at play too; soon they will start de­vel­op­ing more mus­cle.

At 18 months, a tod­dler av­er­ages 10.5kg and at two years is about 12.5kg. Then at three years, four years and five years, the av­er­age stan­dards are 14kg, 16kg and 18.5kg re­spec­tively.

Still, some ba­bies, es­pe­cially picky eaters, may reg­is­ter lower growth rates. When their anx­i­ety shoots past the ceil­ing, par­ents then fuss over ba­bies’ food, which can lead to un­pleas­ant mo­ments at meal­times.

Per­haps your child is hav­ing gas­troin­testi­nal prob­lems. Re­flux, bloated bel­lies or con­sti­pa­tion will def­i­nitely sup­press ap­petites. If you fear your child is un­der­weight or not get­ting the proper nutri­tion, con­sult a pae­di­a­tri­cian or a di­eti­cian who may pre­scribe a sup­ple­ment where nec­es­sary.

This ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Hi­malaya Health­care Malaysia

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