William Sears, MD (“Dr. Bill”) has been in pediatric practice for 50-plus years and written more than 45 books and hundreds of articles on parenting, childcare, nutrition and healthy aging. He has consulted with thousands of parents about the confusing ‘failure to thrive’ diagnosis. In this article published by DrAxe.com, one of the world’s top natural health websites, Dr. Bill reassures parents about growth chart statistics. He also offers practical advice, referencing Healthy Heights shakes twice.
How to interpret growth charts
“What parents often don’t consider is that growth charts represent a percentage. They are an average of thousands of children. Your child is a person, not a percentage. If your child fits lower than average on the growth chart, it’s not a red flag. It’s more like a yellow flag. It’s something you might want to mention to your pediatrician,” writes Dr. Bill.
Factors that may influence where a toddler fits on the growth chart may include:
- Genetics: Naturally lean children will often measure above average on height but below average on weight. Naturally big muscled/big boned children will often plot just the opposite. The article explains more common variants.
- Diet: “Watch for signs that your child may not be getting enough nutrition, and journal the ones you want to mention to your healthcare provider,” advises Dr. Bill. Pale skin is one sign. “Toddlers who have loose, stretchy, wrinkly skin instead of adorable baby fat may also be undernourished.”
- Formula-fed vs. breastfed. “Children who were breastfed will often maintain their adorable baby fat over a longer time than those who were formula fed, because mother’s milk is 40–50 percent fat.”
- The scale and plotting errors. “Be sure to check your child’s weight a second or third time because wiggly, squiggly children are often challenging to plot accurately.”
Dr. Bill’s advice for filling nutritional gaps
In his article, Dr. Bill lists several strategies that he says work most of the time. They include:
- Don’t give up when a picky eater won’t eat what’s in front of them. “It may not be immediate but a hungry child will eat what they’re served if they don’t have a choice.”
- Serve more nutrient-dense ‘grow foods’. “This is very important especially when feeding picky eaters because tiny children have tiny tummies. At any age, the size of our stomach is the size of our fist. Theoretically, you want to feed children a fist-full of nutrient dense food per meal.” Some of his favorite grow foods include:
- Wild salmon
- Sweet potatoes
- Nut butters
- Olive oil
- Use Dr. Bill’s sipping solution. This is one of his top feeding strategies. “Making a daily smoothie has been a Sears family nutritional adventure for many decades. They are a great way to sneak in nutritious foods. If you’re looking for shortcuts, please resist the urge to feed your child smoothie powders, such as sports or protein powders, that are made for adults.
“Look for grow food powders, such as Healthy Heights, to make sure your child is getting the right macronutrients and micronutrients for optimal growth, such as protein (preferably whey or powder from bone broth), vitamin D, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, zinc and fiber.”
Dr. Bill’s nibble tray. This idea puts picky eaters in charge of how they eat their food. Fill an ice cube tray or muffin tin with nutritious nibbles, giving each food a fun name. Include dips such as guacamole, plain and organic full-fat yogurt and cheese sauce.
How to shop for food supplements
Dr. Bill emphasizes the importance of evaluating the science before supplementing your child’s diet. “Look for the science on the company’s website. If they have done the research, they’re going to be proud of it and want it right in front of you,” he writes.
“This is why I recommend Healthy Heights shake mixes. They are clinically studied and pediatrician developed to help children achieve optimal growth. In some cases, the Grow Daily 3+ formula may even qualify for medical insurance reimbursement.* Another huge perk: The serving size is just four ounces. So it’s small enough for children to easily consume the entire amount, even when served as a beverage along with their meal.”
*Grow Daily 3+ has been assigned an insurance billing code in the US (HCPT code B4160), which would facilitate the submission of claims for reimbursement to health insurers. Existence of the code does not imply or guarantee coverage or reimbursement by any health insurer.