A healthy child is every parent’s dream. Each child’s development is unique and complex. Although they grow at the generally predictable steps and milestones, they may not precede these the same way or at the same time. No child grows at a perfectly steady rate throughout this period of childhood, however weeks or months of slightly slower growth alternate with mini “growth spurts” in most children are normal.
Sometimes, kids tend to deviate these milestones due to various reasons. Their growth may either be slower or faster in terms of weight and height as a result of various factors like malnutrition, metabolic disorders, prenatal growth retardation, sudden illness and even emotional and psychological stress in some cases. This is where ‘catch-up’ growth comes in to view.
‘catch-up’ growth is restoring the growth deficit in young children after a period of growth retardation i.e. not fitting in to the standard growth charts (w.r.t weight and height). Be it any cause for the growth retardation, the concern is to bring them back to the normal growth curve and make them stay healthy.
As a mother of two, I feel the following are essential for children to ‘catch-up’ on their lost growth.
- First and most importantly look on the generic factors. Some attributes that are familial (like short or tall stature) cannot be altered much with any amount of extra vitamins or special diet. Just count on their healthiness.
- Maintain good nutritional status. . Because adequate nutrition is necessary in early childhood to ensure healthy growth, proper functioning of organs, strong immune system, and neurological and cognitive development specially when you are concerned with their lag. (Won’t you love to hear your little boss say “ I’m very busy………….” When you find him meddling with an upside down turned car!)
- Enough rest: Sleep patterns vary by age and individual child, but see to that they get a good night’s sleep. Sleep gives growing bodies the rest they need to continue growing properly.
- Choose variety of foods to get enough carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients so that the body regains fast ( a multigrain laddoo can become bheem’s favourite too!)
- Start including millets in their diets once or twice in a week which are a great source of very importance nutrients like copper, manganese, phosphorous and magnesium. Additionally, millets contain phytonutrients which are powerful antioxidants that work in multiple ways to fight diseases. And they are a great source of fiber which enhances healthy bowel activities. (Be creative and churn your own stories for each dish you create with millets and make sure you include their favorite character in it….making them eat with full heart is our ultimate goal!)
- Serve them a variety of vegetables and fruits which help them to regain their energy levels.( cleverly utilize the colors of the veggies for fuzzy feeders)
- Strictly avoid foods that contain added sugar, artificial flavors meaning all the available ready-made foods! ( well, this is a bit tough initially to answer our little question banks!. Mine is very tricky in this. My 9 yr old asked me sometime back, “ mom, you said those ready-things are not so good for health but they say in the ad that it has proteins, vitamins , energy…..and the mom in the ad is very happy in giving it to her kids ?”.. Be ready to face these types of difficult questions by your little examiners)
- Make sure to include whole grains.
- Allow them to regulate their own eating on when and how much to consume. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues in order to avoid over-feeding and under-feeding.
- Try combining new foods and make it attractive to induce them to eat. ( this does work but again get ready to face funny comments too…)
- Teach them to drink adequate amount of water their body needs.Hydration is particularly important for children as they have higher water requirements in relation to their body weight than adults. (Be prepared to run behind them for their frequent water plays!, these naughty heads with revert back with their logical questions!)
- A child’s development is greatly influenced by the environment it is in and the experiences it has. For children, whose bodies and minds are still growing, a well-tuned stress response system is especially important. High levels of early stress have been linked to impaired behavioral and emotional development as well as numerous health consequences later in life.Creating a stress free environment at home will have a positive effect on a child’s health and subsequent growth.
- Children need to feel loved and valued just as they are, whether short or tall, skinny or fat. Children may have a hard time putting their feelings into words, but that does not mean they do not have feelings. It’s every parent’s need to look into this in addition to proving nutritious healthy food since emotional factor does have a significant say in children’s growth and development.
Finally, don’t we all love our ‘harmlessly’ mischievous, slightly improper, occasionally indecent naughty heads? Don’t we miss their curious questions and messy home when they fall sick , act dull or get emotionally disturbed?….well then, lets follow these simple and healthy tricks with our little ‘rule-breakers’ to get them back to their taller, stronger and sharper naughtiness and help them make memories and great stories to share a good laugh when they grow.
( featured image source: https://www.norditropin.com/images/about-growth/childhood-growth-hormone-deficiency/children.jpg)
This post is written as a part of https://growthplus.horlicks.in advanced nutrition for growth and development. “Horlicks Growth+ is a specialized nutrition product designed by international pediatric experts for children in age group of 3-9 years who are lagging behind in height and weight. It contains high quality whey protein with added nutrients that are known to enable children to catch up on lost growth. It has been clinically proven for visible growth in children in 6 months.”