We took K to the doctor for her monthly wellness check at nine months and found out she had only gained five ounces since her six month check-up. Initially, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. She had steadily been in the fiftieth percentile for weight since birth. She was exclusively breastfed until about seven months. She refused a bottle and formula at an early age, but she had always been great with the boob. I probably should have been more insistent that she take a bottle. I chalked up her sudden nine month slim down to the fact that she started crawling, and seemed to be burning a lot more calories than before. But her doctor seemed concerned, and (nicely) berated me for not feeding my “hungry” child. I left the appointment feeling deflated, but figured I would pump my baby full of healthy fats and carbs, and she would be fine.
Increasing K’s caloric intake worked for a very short time, then she was hit with a series of illnesses. First, it was scarlet fever. Then a cold. Then a stomach flu. With each illness, she experienced a weight setback. It felt no less than devastating each time we dragged our sad little butts into the doctor’s office to face the dreaded scale. In recent months, she has completely fallen off the chart in terms of weight. We have seen specialists. K has been poked and prodded. She has had a feeding study performed by an occupational therapist. It has been an eye-opening and exhausting experience filled with meal planning, reading food labels, calorie intake obsession, forcing nasty drinks and concoctions down K’s throat, and worrying.
Aside from her small stature, K is a healthy fourteen month old. She is hitting her milestones at an average to above average pace and is a very social, well-adjusted baby. But, this weight gain issue persists. Her pediatrician wanted her to be about twenty pounds by her first birthday. Her gastro-enterologist thought she could make it to 20 pounds by simply adding more whole milk and supplements such as Carnation Instant Breakfast to her diet. We are two months beyond her first birthday, and the heaviest she has been is 18 pounds 9 ounces. This was a huge feat as she was in the 16 pound range for months.
K has no known food allergies. She is an intensely picky eater, and seems to be hyper aware of different tastes, textures, and foods. She dislikes anything sweet. It is like World War III trying to get her to take Infant Tylenol due to the grape flavoring. It tastes great to most kids, but, for some reason, K gags, chokes, and barfs it up. Her intense distaste for anything sweet (including chocolate) makes it very hard to get her to eat a lot of fattening things including nutrition drinks like Pediasure. We have tried adding all kinds of butters and oils to her solids to add calories. Most of it, has been met with minimal to no success. It could be genetics; like she’s just meant to be a smaller person. But, I still worry, because I was in the ninetieth percentile for weight at one year old, and my husband was a chunky baby, too. We weren’t small babies, and we aren’t small adults, either!
As recently as last week, K developed yet another fever and cold that really did a number on her appetite. Yesterday, she weighed in at 17 pounds 15 ounces. *sigh* So, it’s back to the drawing board, because I really don’t want her to regress and lose more weight. I have started her on a powdered probiotic to hopefully help beef up her immunity, but the powder makes her milk lumpy, and K has been very disinterested in it. As I sit here, my mind is racing thinking about different food combinations. How can I get my baby to eat more and gain weight?! This is an ongoing issue in our household, and I hope to share a lot more about our experiences, in case anyone is curious as to how I feed my picky, underweight toddler. Or maybe you have dealt with a similar situation?