How Can I Get My Small 9-Month-Old to Gain Weight?

Your baby just won't eat. He's not interested in his stage 3 baby food. You try some solids, but he has little or no interest. You know that weight gain slows down at around the nine-month mark, but you wonder how much is too slow. You wonder if he is just finicky, and the problem will correct itself in time. You don't want to be an overanxious parent. But you don't want to ignore a real problem either. Many parents struggle through these dilemmas when their baby just won't eat.

Keep a record of her developmental milestones and a growth chart and consult your pediatrician. The most striking developmental change should be her personality beginning to emerge. She should be alert, oriented and interested in her surroundings. Her growth rate begins to slow, and she may not be gaining weight and length as quickly now. Although there is large individual variation, typically she should be gaining about 1 pound a month and about a centimeter and a half in length. Her bowel movements should be more regular, and she may be sitting upright longer. She should be crawling and pulling herself to a standing position.

Test for allergies. Sometimes an allergy can be causing a failure to gain weight. Peanut butter, dairy, raw eggs, shellfish and gluten are five big culprits. You should monitor and record all possible signs of allergies such as shortness of breath, swelling, a rash or eczema. More extreme reactions can include vomiting, coughing or obstructed breathing; all of which should get the immediate attention of a physician. If you suspect he has an allergy, your pediatrician can refer you to an allergist.

Sneak in calories. Experiment with foods she may like. Greek yogurt is appealing to children this age, who seem to like its custard-like thickness and rich flavor and is easily digestible for babies just beginning to eat. Avocados are soft, and if mushed, are well tolerated and calorie dense. Stay with nutritionally healthy, calorie-dense stage 3 foods rather than filler non-nutritional alternatives.

Make mealtimes a short but pleasant experience. Pressure is just going to increase stress for both of you and increase the chances that he won't eat anything. Try just one or two tablespoons at a time. He has a tiny little stomach at this age. Consider that he may be scared of new foods. Try some yourself first; show him that the new food is delicious. Coat foods he dislikes with foods he does like; mashed potatoes, banana or applesauce are good for this.

Distract with a toy. Sometimes if you can get her to play with something you can take the pressure off, and she'll eat more for you. If your baby is motivated to suck on the toy, she may become more motivated to eat as her salivary glands are stimulated. Sometimes the special attention of sitting on your lap or eating off your plate may motivate her to eat.