Toddlerhood is a time of extreme change for parents, as you watch your tiny, helpless baby transform into an independent, capable little human being who can walk, talk and play. One thing doesn't change, though: Most parents still worry about what's normal and whether your child is on track for his age. Understanding normal toddler weight gain can help you ease some of that worry.
An average 2-year-old -- a toddler who falls right at the 50-percentile mark on growth charts -- should weigh 27 to 28 pounds, according to KidsHealth.org, an online parenting and health resource maintained by the Nemours Foundation. But toddlers come in all shapes and sizes, so your toddler may weigh more or less than that average amount and still be perfectly healthy. Unless your child's weight falls below the 3-percentile mark or above the 95-percentile mark, your pediatrician will probably diagnose his weight as healthy.
By the time your child is a toddler, you have a record of his growth over time. This record comes in handy when you're trying to determine whether your toddler's weight gain is normal. If your toddler's weight has hovered around the 15-percentile mark on growth charts since infancy, she may be small for her age, but her weight gain is normal and consistent. On the other hand, if your toddler has been weighing in around the 60-percentile mark for most of her babyhood and suddenly drops to the 10th percentile, it could be a sign of abnormal weight gain.
In general, your toddler should be gaining weight pretty consistently, so if you notice your child losing weight, talk to your pediatrician: weight loss could be a sign of a potential health problem. Your doctor may run blood and urine tests to check for problems, and she'll probably ask you about your child's diet. In some cases, toddlers can be underweight simply because they don't eat enough -- a not-too-uncommon scenario for very picky eaters, explains pediatrician Claire McCarthy in "Parenting" magazine.
If your child's weight is above the normal range, talk with your pediatrician. Don't put your toddler on a low-fat or restricted calorie diet unless your pediatrician specifically tells you to. If your child is underweight, make sure you give her plenty of opportunities to eat throughout the day -- on-the-go toddlers may do better with frequent snacks than with a few sit-down meals, says pediatrician William Sears on his parenting information website AskDrSears.com. Opt for high-nutrient, high-calorie snacks, like full-fat dairy products, avocados and bananas. Smoothies can be a good way to increase your child's nutritional intake, but beware of too much juice, which can fill your child up with empty calories. Stick with fruit instead.