For the first six months of my son’s life, everyone commented on his weight. Strangers felt perfectly comfortable saying, “Look at those thunder thighs,” and “You’ve got yourself a little Sumo wrestler!” Meanwhile, I wasn’t the least bit fazed by the scale at check-ups or how many ounces my little guy consumed. He was a baby after all, and babies are supposed to have those amazing, chunky arm rolls — aren’t they?
Babies can be considered fat, but this is up for debate. Clinical obesity at the age of 2 has been linked to formula feeding in infancy as new research suggests that newborn feeding practices are believed to influence toddler obesity more than previously thought. Children diagnosed as clinically obese by the age of 2 are at greater risk of being obese in their teens and adulthood.
The team studied 8,000 mothers with nine-month-old babies, asking them whether they predominantly breastfed or formula-fed or did both, and then evaluated the child’s weight at age 2. Babies put to bed with a bottle were 30 percent more likely to be obese at age 2. Those fed solid food before four months were 40 percent more likely to become obese.
Labeling babies as fat and chunky makes some parents start to worry about their children’s body image before their first birthday. Fat phobia has become a default setting in today’s culture.
Jeanne Sager of Callicoon Center, NY, mom to 7-year-old Jillian, can relate to the internal pressures of hearing someone describe your baby as chunky. Sager, a recovering bulimic, who wrote about her worries on The Stir.com, says that while she loves “fat babies,” she admits it was a constant struggle to appreciate Jillian’s early, roly-poly stage. “When people would make comments on her chubby little cheeks, I would smile,” explains Sager, “but inside my stomach was in knots.” People don’t realize the buttons they’re pushing for parents, she says.
Baby fat keeps babies warm. Never restrict your baby’s caloric intake or put them on any sort of diet. As you start to wean your child, introduce fruits and vegetables instead of juice and chocolate milk.
Bottle fed babies do not learn how to regulate their appetite as breastfed babies do. Parents have been found to overfeed their babies when using bottles as opposed to the breast. This does not mean that your baby will be overweight if you bottle feed them at night but you should be mindful of your baby’s feeding during the first few months of life.
What do you think of the research? Do you worry about your baby’s weight?
First published at today.com