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A Chubby Baby is Not a Sign of Future Obesity

With childhood obesity on the rise, should parents worry about the weight of their babies?

Experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say parents should ask their child's health care provider to keep tabs on children's weight from birth on up. But they shouldn't obsess about the weight of a child younger than 2 years.

Members of the AAP Nutrition Committee say there are no data to support the belief that children in this age group who are overweight are more prone to be heavy later.

No BMI for infants

For kids this young, health care providers don't rely on the body mass index, which relates weight to height. Instead, they use weight-for-length charts.

Height is difficult to measure in infants and very young children, and length and height are not the same as in older kids. Height can't be measured until a child is able to stand.

Start healthy habits now

  • Breast feed exclusively for the first 6 months, and then with supplemental foods until 1 year or longer as desired by mother and baby. Babies who are breastfed for the first 6 months tend to be leaner. One reason is that breastfed babies only eat when they are hungry, not when prompted by parents.

  • Unless instructed by your child's health care provider, don't try to prompt your baby to finish all of every bottle.

  • Offer more fruits and vegetables and less cereal and grains. Continue to offer fruits and vegetables as finger foods are introduced.

  • Only breastmilk or formula should be given in bottles, unless otherwise instructed by your child's provider.

  • Juice isn't necessary and is actually less nutritious than actual fruit. Avoid introducing fruit juice or wait until your child reaches toddlerhood. If you choose to offer juice, wait until 9 months of age and give no more than 6 ounces of 100% juice daily.

  • Avoid fruit punch, soft drinks, and other sweetened beverages.

  • As parents, eat well and stay active. Your children will model what they see you doing.

 

Babies stay active naturally as they learn to roll over, move their heads, crawl, and walk. Children's growth slows between the ages of 12 and 15 months, so parents should understand this is normal and it doesn't mean there is something wrong with their baby.