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3 reasons why your little one is smaller than his peers—and three ways to help him grow

  • Top hospital in the Philippines Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), through its Department of Pediatrics, identifies possible causes why a child has lower-than-normal weight and height
  • In time, and with the help of your child’s pediatrician, he will grow in a healthy manner and develop into the weight and height that’s appropriate for him

You have followed every tip in the book – from breastfeeding your child to serving nutrient-rich meals. Save for the occasional colds and coughs, he hasn’t been seriously ill.

So why is your child still small?

Top hospital in the Philippines Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), through its Department of Pediatrics, identifies possible causes why a child has lower-than-normal weight and height, as well as healthy ways to help him grow.

To start with, how do you know if your child is underweight or even shorter than children his age? Your child’s pediatrician determines his height, weight, and Body Mass Index or his weight-for-height plotted in the appropriate chart for age and gender. Visually, do you notice other things about your child apart from his skinny frame? Is he smaller than most of his peers? Did he suddenly lose a lot of weight? Is he weak or fatigues easily? Does he have difficulty concentrating in class? These cues suggest that his being small and underweight may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

According to Maria Imelda Belen Vitug-Sales, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist, a child may appear smaller than normal due to any of the following:

Genetics. Do you come from a family with a lean frame? Then most likely your child may have inherited the same body type.

Sports. Kids active in sports tend to be leaner than their sedentary peers.

Disease. Diabetes, thyroid disease, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia, distorted body image), inflammatory bowel disease, tuberculosis, and other medical conditions could

affect your child’s weight, appetite, ability to digest food, or absorb its nutrients. Medication for these diseases can also contribute to poor weight gain.

To help him grow the healthy way, Dr. Vitug-Sales recommends the following:

Introduce nutrient dense high caloric food. Good-quality calories, that is. Avocado and nuts are not only yummy but they’re also rich sources of fat. Eggs, milk, cheese, and hummus are tasty and protein-rich. Cereal, corn, and sweet potato are delicious and filling forms of carbohydrates.

Make mealtimes enjoyable. Ask him to choose his plates, utensils, and drinking glasses. Get him involved in planning the menu for his meals. Don’t force feed him or watch him like a hawk and comment at every bite he takes. Mealtimes should be an enjoyable and relaxing family affair; when they are stressful occasions with high expectations, they kill anyone’s appetite.

Let nature take its course. It may just be a phase. However, your pediatrician may have to rule out red flags that could point out to a possible pre-existing health condition. Prepare fun and diverse meals that are appropriate for their age and get him into physical activities to stimulate his appetite.

In time, and with the help of your child’s pediatrician, he will grow in a healthy manner and develop into the weight and height that’s appropriate for him.



For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.8888 999, email [email protected], or visit www.makatimed.net.ph.

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