A healthy diet helps your toddler maintain normal weight gain.

Normal Toddler Weight Gain

by Holly L. Roberts

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.

1. The Facts

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.

2. Analysis

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.

3. Considerations

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.

4. Solutions

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.

About the Author

I'm the kind of writer who really wants to know about everything - so I can't imagine what it would have been like to try to navigate life in the days before the Web. How did we get anywhere without MapQuest? How did we settle bets without Google? I love the idea of readily accessible, accurate information, and while I love working in all media, I have to admit that the immediacy of online journalism is especially appealing to me. It's fun to have an excuse to be a know-it-all! You can see from my resume that I have a decade of experience writing for the Web and print, on everything from how to tell if you're a toxic girlfriend (hint: If you've hacked his email, you probably are) to how to get your child to potty train (who knew a star chart could be so effective) to how to convince your future mother-in-law that she shouldn't wear white to your wedding (good news: this one's your husband-to-be's job). I'd love the opportunity to explore even more subjects. Thanks for considering me.

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