The following information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
My daughter has always been a big eater. She sucked down both breast milk and formula like it was her last supper, around the clock. By six months old she weighed twenty pounds. Her doctor lovingly referred to her as a “Chubette.” One of my co-workers (the poster-boy for sensitivity in the workplace) said she looked like "the daughter of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man." I wasn’t offended… I was worried!
Many people, including a Circle of Moms member named Valerie, feel that baby fat is nothing to worry about. As she says, “babies come in all sizes.” That being said, weight is a lifelong issue for many. Even in a baby's first year moms are bombarded with weight percentiles. Given all these confusing signals, how much (if at all) should you worry about your baby's weight? Here's a round-up of advice from Circle of Moms members on three common weight-related questions that crop up during a baby's first year.
1. Can A Baby Be Fat?
My daughter's doctor shrugged off my concerns about her weight with, “If she’s hungry, feed her. The weight will come off when she starts walking." A Circle of Moms member named Rachel says the same: “Babies need the extra weight now because when they start crawling and walking they burn so much energy, and they lose some interest in eating.”
As it turned out, Rachel and my pediatrician were completely right: my baby eventually slimmed down. But I needed to hear it from a doctor in order not to worry. Echoing this experience, Circle of Moms member Hannah says talking to your pediatrician is essential: “If there is a problem, they can help you diagnose it. If there is no problem, they can give you the medical reassurance you need.”
2. What Makes Your Baby Bigger?
Exclusively breast-fed infants have a tendency to weigh more than formula-fed babies. Since there is no accurate measurement for how much milk your baby gets while nursing, Kristin P.'s doctor likes to see a chunky baby: "My pediatrician said they prefer a breastfed baby to be "overweight," to ensure they [are] getting enough." Several moms in our communities, including Amber P., say you should never ration a baby who is exclusively breastfed: "...more than one doctor has told me that you cannot overfeed a breastfed baby."
Circle of Moms member Guggie D. shares some valuable information from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding the pressure on breastfeeding moms to put their babies on a schedule. Most health organizations and doctors agree that on-demand feeding is best in the first few months, regardless of a baby's weight, so that they learn to understand their own hunger cues.
The height and bone structure that our babies inherit from us play a role in their weight from the start. As a member named Lisa says, "...breastfed infants grow according to their genetics. They self-regulate."
Elle W.'s family bears this out. Her daughter was in the 95th percentile for weight at three months old.But she ws a big baby from the start, as were her parents and grandparents: "My daughter was almost ten pounds, I was over ten pounds, both my parents were over ten pouds. Big babies run in the family :) ."
Some doctors will tell you that it is possible to overfeed a baby, especially if you are feeding formula. While you should feed them whenever they are hungry, sometimes we have a tendency to push them to finish a bottle or try to get them to eat because we think it's "feeding time." Nicole B. was concerned about her daughter's weight, and her doctor did caution her about overfeeding: "...my doctor said as long as we weren't over feeding her, like having her eat every hour and every time she was the teensiest bit fussy, that she was just growing how she was supposed to."
3. What Should You Do if Concerned?
Most Important - Ask The Doctor
Before you make any changes to your baby's diet or feeding schedules, you should ask your doctor. An overwhelming majority of moms in our communities who worried about their babies being overweight were reassured by their pediatrician that chubby babies are perfectly normal, especially in the first year.
Increase Solid Food
For babies over six months, some moms suggest that introducing more solids (cereal and baby food) might actually help avoid over-eating. Sonia G.'s son was in the 90th percentile at his six month checkup, and her doctor recommended less formula and more food: "[The doctor] suggested I cut back on formula since he should only be drinking (4) eight ounce bottles a day, and feed baby food three times a day so that way baby would still be eating every two hours, just cutting back on [the amount of] formula."
Recognize Comfort Sucking vs. Hunger
Sometimes it's hard to tell if babies are actually hungry or just want to suck. If you feel comfortable with your child using a pacifier, this might be a good time to introduce one. Shannon S. used a pacifier to figure out when her son was actually hungry: "Try a pacifier if you haven't already. [Your baby] could just want to suck and not be hungry. She will reject it if she is really hungry. I had to do that with my son when I wasn't sure if he wanted a bottle or a paci."
The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.