Baby Fat or Fat Baby?

Some parents (and even well-meaning, but misguided relatives) worry that a chubby-looking baby is overweight. 

With childhood obesity a problem in the U.S. and other countries, it’s understandable to worry about baby weight. Just keep in mind that a large baby may not become an overweight or obese child. An obese child is more at risk of remaining obese as an adult.

If you’re worried about your baby’s weight, talk to the healthcare provider. Weight checks are part of wellness appointments throughout childhood, and the provider can tell you whether your baby is growing normally. 

Growing infants need a diet high in fat. An exclusively breastfed baby, for example, gets nearly half of his daily calories from fat in breastmilk. And research has found that being breastfed may actually reduce the risk of obesity later in life.

Too much weight can be concerning if it affects a baby’s physical development, such as delayed crawling or walking. In that case, the healthcare provider will work with you to bring things into better balance.

To keep your baby at a healthy weight:

  • Avoid or seriously limit sugar-sweetened drinks—even juice. Whole fruits provided in puréed baby food or in small pieces are much better for your baby, nutritionally.
  • Don’t immediately offer a breast or bottle when your older baby fusses. If she isn’t due for a meal yet, trycomforting her first, distracting her with a toy, carrying her to another room or other ideas. 
  • Limit or avoid screentime. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screentime (TV, computers, video games, etc.) for children and babies under age 2. Too much TV watching has been linked to a higher risk of becoming overweight.
  • Encourage movement. Turning your baby onto his tummy (tummy time) occasionally during the day encourages arm and neck muscle development. If he’s crawling, get down on your hands and knees and encourage him to crawl with you.
See also ...

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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