February 16th, 2010
10:13 AM ET

When is your chubby baby too chubby?

By Caitlin Hagan
CNN Medical Associate Producer

A new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics has concluded that "the critical period for preventing childhood obesity...is during the first two years of a child's life and for many by three months of age." It's the first study to identify a so-called "tipping point" in a child's development of obesity. This new finding comes as first lady Michelle Obama is targeting childhood obesity in a new national initiative Let's Move.

"We've been struggling with the older kids, ages 6 to 8, who are already way overweight," says Dr. John W. Harrington of Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. "And at that age, it's too difficult to change eating habits."

Harrington and his team set out to determine the point at which a child's weight gain becomes unhealthy and leads to overweight.

"We backtracked and said, 'When did this weight first happen?'" says Harrington. "Since the age of 3 or 4 months, these children were overweight as babies...they had normal growth but their weights were averaging well above their heights."

By identifying when the weight gain first develops, Harrington believes pediatricians will be able to intervene early to change poor eating habits in babies and toddlers on track to becoming overweight.

But the study doesn't change the old adage that a chubby baby is still a healthy baby, especially since babies need extra fat for brain, eye, and nerve development. But Harrington argues that babies need less fat in their diets than was once thought.

"Parents feel the need to feed the child; feed them, feed them, feed them" says Harrington. "But they're not watching what the child is doing."

The key for parents is to pay attention to simple cues to ensure that they're not overfeeding their baby. For example, when a baby stops suckling while being breastfed or pulls his face away from his bottle, he may be too full to want more formula even if he's had only half of his usual serving.

Another cue is to watch how frequently your baby drools while feeding. Drooling from the side of his mouth could signal he's eaten enough.

"Your baby can control their eating habits" says Harrington. "And if you allow them to do that, they can control what they take in."

Harrington suggests a feeding schedule of 2 to 3 ounces per feeding during the first few weeks of your baby's life. That should increase to 5 to 6 ounces per feeding by your baby's 6-month mark. But he also cautions that all parents should consult with their peditrician about any concerns they have about feeding practices or their baby's weight.

Do you worry about your baby's weight? How often are you feeding your child?

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soundoff (1,828 Responses)
  1. Gretchen

    fr Denise:

    >...Moms, breastfeed your babies. It's easy, convenient, pre-mixed, pre-warmed, sterile, loaded with the proper nutrients, full of antibodies and inexpensive. It also helps YOU get rid of those post-pregnancy pounds.<

    Not all babies can breastfeed. I was one of the original formula babies, as I couldn't digest cow's milk OR breast milk.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sarah

    My oldest daughter was in the 98% percentile as an infant. She was formula fed. She is now a 5 year old, and is very thin and around 37 lbs. I think it is absurd to think chubby babies will amount to chubby children.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jane king

    My sister has this strange notion that her baby HAS to eat every 4 hours, that has been since birth and even woke her up every four hours to breast feed her, and now she is almost six months old and her baby is fat and lazy. At four months she still couldn't hold her head up and her month kept her in her chair or on the floor on her back. Today she still feeds her every four hours whether the baby made a peep or not. At least she stopped the waking her up at night, but that was after she was four months old. She said her doctor told her to wake her up to feed her after she was first born, so the baby wouldn't "forget" to eat. Yeah, right. In the eighties us mothers never did that, the baby pretty much had to cry for their food. We didn't want a bunch of suckler's who became dependent on feeding in order to be happy or content. We gave them pacifer's to hold them over or a bottle of water. Not one of my friend's kids are fat, not one and only my oldest needed braces, none of my friend's kids had bad teeth. And, we put them on their stomachs so they would get strong and move around, and learn to sit up and crawl. We didn't pen them to a chair or confine them in a playpen. We put them on the floor on a blanket and let the baby figure out how to get the toy that was out of reach. Many kids these days are physically, emotionally and psychologically lazy because their parents tell them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, so the kid never has to bother to problem solve or to think for themselves. No wonder parents get their kids tested for adhd or add or other psychological behaviors. They've now give the kid an excuse for their lazy behavior. Many of these kids are bright, but have no clue how to use their brains because mommy and daddy rule their every move, including feeding, since birth.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Eva

    For all the people that keep posting about their chubby babies and how they turned out fine – what a ridiculous argument. You can't make a conclusion with an N of 1. Just because your baby turned out fine doesn't mean that obesity doesn't begin in the first year of life for the population.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Really Cheeks?

    You are disgusted by chubby babies? My breastfed baby is a big boy but I'm not going to starve him. I eat healthy and when he is able to eat food he will eat healthy too. The bigger problem is people who feed their kids fast food everyday and let them sit on the couch and watch tv or play video games all day. I can't believe for a second that a 3 month old breastfed baby will be overweight when he is older just because he is big now.
    And a women who gets gestational diabetes gets it because their body cannot process sugar while they are pregnant. It has NOTHING to do with what the woman eats, NOTHING AT ALL. Women who develop gestational diabetes end up eating more healthy than most people since they have to. Blaming a mother for that is disgusting, your whole post was disgusting.
    I'm sure your brother is overweight BECAUSE your parents controlled his diet so much. They made junk food more applealing since it was not allowed. Everything in moderation would have been a much better way to go.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Maryann

    My children were 8 1/2 lbs when they were born, and each were bottle fed (I was unable to produce enough breastmilk). They are now 5 and 6 years old- they have never had soda, only drink juice at birthday parties, and eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and natural foods. They eat their share of treats (ice cream being their favorite) as I believe restricting their diet too much can potentially backfire. But, they are ACTIVE. As long as it is not raining, they want to be outside playing on the swings, riding their scooters or bicycles, or just running around playing tag. We take family hikes, ice skate, and simple walks around the neighborhood. They see their parents enjoying being active, and it influences them. They are both at perfect weights, and their pediatrician couldn't be more pleased.
    I think childhood obesity is all about education- parents need to be educated about BMI, implications of obesity and diabetes. This is the responsibility of the parents, and if they are limited themselves, their OB/GYN should then assume responsibility for preparing these mothers for serious consequences of obesity. Pediatricians also see trends on the growth charts, and should be mandated to provide parents this information. Same story for the schools. Clearly this is an epidemic, and, ultimately the children are going to suffer- the medical risks, but also as they get oder the social component is going to affect them. And, sadly, it can all be prevented.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Nicole

    @Denise I was a formula fed baby who was underweight until I was 17. It's not the formula that makes you fat, it's the food choices you make when you've been off the formula for years.

    And by the way, never had an ear infection or strep throat as a child even though I was bottle fed, and neither did either of my two formula-fed children. I think the medical profession and breastfeeding advocates need to stop beating up on those of us mothers that by choice or circumstance need to give our baby formula. We do not deserve to be demonized, not all women are able to breastfeed, nor do all women want to and that's nothing new, otherwise there would not have been wet nurses back in the days before formula was readily available.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. momofbowlingball

    so cheeks, i was born 9lbs, but now Im 120, am I obese??
    my kid was born 6lbs, but has "huge disgusting pillowy cheeks", is she considered a cow??!!

    i agree some kids are prone to obesity, but at 3 months, unless your baby is in the 200%, then he/she is fine. id much rather have a fat baby than a skinny/ribs showing underweight baby.

    ps. dont EVER limit an infants food intake. ever, ever, ever. its not like they can raid the pantry for cookies. geez woman. pillowy cheeks are the best thing ever. i take it you dont have a kid of your own??

    February 16, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Momtokidsanddogs

    It seems this article is suggesting we are not tuned in to our babies natural cues that would tell us when they are full. Parents today are rushed and frazzled. Sometimes it is easiest to stuff something in the crying mouth than try to see what the need might be beyond that. Parents are establishing, even at 3 months of age, the idea that you eat BEYOND the full feeling...that food offers comfort. Those ARE patterns that lead to a life time of struggles with food and weight.

    I have two thin children. I breast fed until they self weaned (at age two for the older and nearly four for the younger). They were introduced to solids very slowly and not until nearly 9 months (family history of food allergies). We eat a healthy diet and talk about the foods we eat. My older child CRIES if I suggest we go to McDonald's (he HATES it). Neither has ever had soda/pop.... I hope they are learning healthy patterns to last a lifetime.

    I see people adding cereal to bottles at 3 months; giving children BOTTLES of soda/pop. I see elementary aged children wearing women's size clothing. These poor kids don't stand a chance...parents need to take control!

    February 16, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. faith

    I really think that there are additives in formula that make babies get fatter than nursed babies. After I had my son I started noticing that formula babies had bigger rolls of fat that were distributed differently than nursed babies. Nursing mothers – just look and you will notice too. My son was nursed – I tell you his fat rolls looked different. This article is so obviously catered to the working mom that places her child in day care. I breast fed my boy (who was 5th to 10th percentile) as much as he wanted to eat when he wanted to eat until he was one. He frowned horribly when I tried to give him any formula watsoever.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. jo

    I have a daughter who I breastfed exclusive till she was a 1 yr old (she refused to eat solids) and continued till she was 2 and she was very fat, around 35 pounds when she was 9 months. I never withheld the breast from her even though people accused me of overfeeding and now at 4 1/2 she's a skinny kid who eats like a bird and never overeats or eats something for the sake of it (like ice cream or cake) I don't think we should worry about babies weight when they are breastfeeding mom's milk is best!

    February 16, 2010 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katie

      I saw your comment saying that you had a 35 lb 9 month old. My breastfed (with very little solids because she doesn't want them) 1 yr old is 32.5 lbs and the ped is wanting us to go get her checked out at the endocrinologist. He also wants us to take her to a nutritionist to analyze how much I nurse her... Did your ped want you to do the same? How did you know that she was ok? I wasn't worried until my doctor made me worried. Btw, she is just taking her first steps but not walking fast yet. When did yours start to slim down? Thanks for your help.

      July 17, 2010 at 00:40 | Report abuse |
  12. Kelli

    Oh, please.

    I breastfed my baby exclusively (always unlimited demand!) until she was 1.5 years old, when she started trying healthy table food (we pureed that rather than giving her sugar-loaded "baby food" to eat.) She finished nursing at age 2.5.

    She was a tubby 6-month old when a pediatrician became "concerned" about her breast-fed "high" weight, but grew into a 21 lb 3-year-old (and then the same pediatrician freaked at her being "underweight", not recalling that half her genetic heritage was from tiny Asian stock.)

    Today she is a NORMAL not-at-all-fat-but-not-scrawny weight-for-height active 19-year-old (5'3, 120 lbs).

    Today's "recommended guidelines" are all built around formula-fed children who graduate to commercial "baby food" and then culturally-normal "children's food" (low on vegetables, high on processing, sugar, salt, etc..) Additionally, they are tainted by the concept of "genetics doesn't matter" and "one size nutritional guideline fits all". No wonder doctors get confused when they see children who don't "fit the expected generic profiles".

    February 16, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Trish

    Stop giving your kids pop and junk food!!!

    I have a 3 year old and an 18 month old and they have never had a drop of pop EVER. This is not the norm apparently, because everywhere I go, I see VERY young children drinking Coke, Sprite, Root Beer, etc. Some in bottles and sippy cups even! It's disgusting what some parents will give their children, just to keep them "quiet"...and btw, Fruitopia or Iced Tea isn't any better!

    Fresh veggies and fruit, whole grain breads and lean meats should top your list of healthy alternatives.

    Also, homemade baby food may help. If you can't buy fresh produce to puree into baby food, buy some frozen foods (peas, carrots, etc) and steam and puree those. Canned baby food contains massive amounts of sodium which can lead to health problems later.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Di

    One of my children was born over 10 lbs. At 1 year old he weighed 30 lbs. Today 20 years later, he is 6' 7" and weighs 160 lbs. So each kid is different. If you allow young children to eat junk, they are going to have weight issues. If you are conscious about what you eat, then you probably are not likely to have weight issues. I think too many people rely on fast food and junk food to get by, especially giving it to their children because it's fast and easy. Taking time to cook (which I dislike to do) and give your kids good things for them is key. Too many people want to blame weight issues on a bunch of other things. I really believe if overweight people were honest, they would find they are eating more than the average person and not being active. I love to eat too and hate to exercise. However, I limit my intake (not based on what I would like to have) and exercise.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Etta Vaughan

    Oh give it a rest already. Enough paranoia about over-feeding babies. Babies need lots of fat and calories....isn't that what we've been told for years? Mother's milk is very high in fat content and that's for a reason. While I'm not a nutriionist or medical doctor, I am a mother and grandmother. Please mothers out there, don't restrict breastfeeding (or formula for that matter) because today they're telling you your babies are too fat. Next year, it will be your babies are to skinny and feed them more. I always fed my babies (formula) untll they indicated they didn't want anymore and did the same when they started babyfood and solid food. They might have been "chubby" at some point in their first 3 yrs, but slimmed down by age 5 and neither are obese adults. Let your instinct and common sense prevail and don't pay too much attention to these "studies" that pop up periodically.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. kristy

    I do have to say that I do not feel that breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding necessarily has a lot of impact on all children. I only tried breastfeeding the first few days and went right to the bottle. I was bottle fed as a baby and have always been extremely healthy. My son was bottlefed and is also very healthy. Some children do need breastmilk, but I don't think it is something that needs to be shoved down mothers' throats. It didn't work for me, and I know many others like that too. And we have healthy babies.

    I still stand by my belief that genetics call the play more than anything. Nothing else in the world can explain why I'm so small, when everything I do and eat says I shouldn't be. Our bodies are all different and react differently to what is taken in and how it is expended. Some people have to be more conscious than others about what they eat, although I think everyone should try to eat well-balanced meals. It's just good for your body, regardless. I have seen some very fat babies with thin parents. For some, it is the result of overfeeding. For others, it is not. Every baby and child is different! Statistics do benefit to some degree, but they cannot be applied to the general population all the time. They are not the end all be all when it comes to health. There are so many uncontrolled factors involved that the conclusions cannot always be applied generically. I agree that obesity is a huge problem in the U.S. that parents desperately need to address with their own lifestyle and their children. That does not mean that everyone needs to eat a strict diet and exercise every day. Each person needs to learn how to read and understand their own body, so they can make the best educated decisions necessary to live a healthy life. This is not a cut and dry discussion with a cookie-cutter answer.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sue

    This is ridiculous. This is just another example of the government and doctors enabling people. It seems the goal lately it to make sure the individual does not take any blame for any of their problems and can blame everyone esle. Infants are NOT fat (as long as their parents aren't giving a 6 mth old ice cream and etc.). This is just another way for overweight people to blame someone else besides themselves so they won't have any guilt while eating a Big Mac, drinking a soda and sitting on the couch.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jessica

    Cheeks-seriously? have you even had any children? I gained 40lbs during my pregnancy doing all the "right" things. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within 3 months after I delivered. I actually had a hard time not losing too much weight. My little man had the cutest chubby cheeks and fat rolls you've ever seen. He was EBF and is now 8 months and since he has started crawling is thinning out nicely. Both me and hubby are average weight people who eat a balanced diet. I'm sure our son will do the same. To say that babies are overweight by three months is insane. Almost as insane as telling an EBF motther to limit feedings. Your next problem will be no woman being able to produce enough milk because she wasn't feeding on demand early on.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. laundrygoddess

    I think there are many things wrong with society today that makes kids chubby. Too fast paced of a lifestyle which can mean more fast food than is healthy, too much video input and too little activity. That being said I can testify that if your babies and young children are skinny you are harassed to the point where you go a little nuts. I have two small children. My almost 7 year old finally hit the 40 pound mark and my almost 5 year old can still wear size 18 months pants. He's also the height of an average two year old. My kids were born small and have been small all their lives. I feed them all the healthy food they want and treats on occasion but I'm not obsessive about what they eat. We have donuts fairly regularly. Take it easy on parents with skinny kids and maybe think twice before criticizing parent with heavier kids as they might not be at fault. Then again....they might be and it's difficult to watch them hurt their kids with a bad lifestyle.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Brent

    Apparently Dr. Harrington doesn't know a lot about breast feeding, but pretty typical for a Dr in a childrens' hospital.
    Obesity might have more of a connection to modern western diet than leaving a child "too long at the breast". Actually the man is ignorant and it is frightening to think he can be taken seriously by the uninformed reader.
    And cheeks, I think you are Dr Harrington posting under a different name.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. laura Naperville, ILLINOIS

    I'm quite shocked by this. The biggest concern is the TYPE of food that's fed. The toddlers/preschoolers I know who are skinniest eat the worst junk. These kids eat McDonalds and high sugar foods every day but not in great quantity. They're skinny but VERY UNHEALTHY and worst, developing poor habits. They will become over-eating adults when they start emotionally eating and don't have control. My child is average weight and is super healthy eating as an organicvegetarian:nuts, yogurt, fruits, veggies, whole grains. For her 40 percent weight (slightly under) she's 1000 times healthier than the fast food junkies down the street.

    February 16, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Tatiana

    I hate it when advocates of breast-feeding start bashing mothers who have bottle-fed their kids. In my case, I actually really wanted to breast feed my kids, but just couldn't: my oldest daughter was always crying because she was hungry and after a month of this the pediatrian ordered me to complement her diet with a bottle. With my youngest daughter, she actually left the hospital being bottle fed since it was apparent to everyone that I just couldn't produce the amount of milk she needed. So, firstly, I would like for you advocates out there to stop assuming that mothers stop breast feeding their kids by choice – in some cases, there really is no other way.

    Secondly, it's not fair to assume that parents who bottle feed their babies just give them the bottle to "shut them up" and don't "monitor" the amount of food they are intaking. That's not true. Yes, I bottle fed my babies, but did so by holding them closely, using that time to bond with them... If anything, the bottle actually made it easier to monitor the optimal amount of milk that they needed. I always respected their limits, only increasing the amount of formula on the bottle when they seemed to need that bit more.

    And no, neither of them are overweight nor had they have anh developmental issues! Both are incredibly bright, active and slender!

    February 16, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. dxp2718

    Annoyed: Age 6-8 is probably most difficult to change eating habits, because the children are self-aware enough to fight back against attempted training but not wise enough to value their futures/understand the consequences of their diet. Adults certainly cannot be *forced* to change their habits – they diet and exercise only if they want to and they exhibit self-control. The problem is, by the time they're adults, the damage is already done (diabetes, heart problems, etc.) which is why they recommend establishing good habits earlier. And 6-8 is too late to do it *as children* because they'll be obstinate and refuse (and find ways around it, for that matter, like junk food at friends' houses).

    My infant daughter was EBF until we started solids, and she used to eat and eat and eat until she threw up all over, so we quickly learned to satisfy her with a pacifier instead. She knows when she's done: I now give her a pacifier to hold while she's suckling and when she's full, she turns away from the breast and plugs herself. It's really cute!
    She's been close to 50% on both weight and height her whole life. And we DO let her taste whatever we're eating (if we think it's safe), even if it's junk food, but not a lot of it – just enough for her to feel she's participating and not like certain foods are forbidden (which we believe will make her want them more). When we give her solid food feedings, we feed her healthy stuff like fruits, veggies, and yogurt.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mary Beth

    The feeding advice should take into account how big the baby is at birth. My 3 kids were 9+ lbs at birth and would have STARVED on that amount for the first few weeks.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Mom_In_Maryland

    When my son was 6 weeks old I was told repeatedly that he was too fat by WIC and other nutrition nuts, he had doubled his birth weight by 4 weeks old. At 6 weeks old he was weighing in at a whopping 18 pounds. He was quite fat. They insisted I had to make him loose 10 pounds. I was told to basically starve him, let him cry, cut his feedings down to almost half what he was getting at that time, and feed him less often. Luckily I ignored the fanatics that seem to think that at 6 weeks old you can determine the rest of his life. Well he (my son who kept wanting to eat, and me who kept feeding him regardless of what WIC said, oh and my pediatrician who told me to completely ignore the so called nutrition expert) clearly knew best. At 3 months old he caught meningitis, which resulting in him loosing almost 10 pounds by the time he was better. My pediatrician said that a baby can get sick, and he would rather the baby have the extra weight to loose if needed.

    One more thing, when the same son turned 3, he did that stretching growth that most 3 year olds do, the very same nutritionist started telling me he was too thin, and basically accused me of starving him!

    By his teenage years he balanced out just fine. Regular exercise, and responsible eating.

    Don't ever listen to the nutritionists when it comes to the weight of your baby, if I had, my son probably wouldn't have made it to his first birthday!

    February 16, 2010 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Shelly

    Rather than looking at breastfeeding vs even formula feeding, maybe they should study what the babies are feed once solid food is introduced. I meet a woman who said her daughter's first solid food, at 4 months old, was corn beef hash. She then went on to wonder aloud why her teen daughter was overweight. I have, on many occasion, seen 2 and 3 year olds still in strollers snacking of Doritos and chips. Breastmilk is "designed" especially for babies. The thought of putting a breastfeed baby on any kind of diet goes against nature. How about studying the nutritional knowledge of parents of overweight children and what they feed them in the first months (years) of eating solid foods.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. CK

    I think one thing that is being ignored by a lot of doctors who see children that are over/under weight with no good reason, is endocrine disease. I was a fat kid, but I ate fairly well. Not a lot of junk, and plenty of vegetables. I was accused of eating whole pizzas when I could only eat a slice. Fast forward to 22/23, and I'm diagnosed with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism. Of course, when I dropped 20 pounds within a couple of months, the doctors thought it was great, but I was also depressed. One of the stages of Hashimoto's is being hyperthyroid. I arguably ate worse when I was dropping weight than I had been when I was badly overweight.

    Doctor's are trained to think within a box. When something presents that is outside the box, they blame it on something unrelated, or the patient. When I was finally diagnosed, the endocrinologist said that I had had Hashimoto's for "years, and years, and years". Clearly, I could have been diagnosed much earlier in life, and been healthier and happier for it.

    What I have is genetic, but you cannot discount all the chemicals in the environment. These babies are sleeping on, or in, entirely man made materials that give off fumes, or residue. These chemicals are sometimes endocrine disruptors. So, yes, you can feed a child all the right things, and keep them from having all the bad, but what you don't see are the things that are right in front of them that could be causing more health issues than they would have if the child had been born 30-50 years ago.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Nicole

    I agree Denise in Ft. Worth, many studies do not include enough breastfed babies in the study. At the same time however many breastfed babies are different from each other. I am a small mother, 5'3 at 115 lbs. when I first got pregnant. Since I was small, naturally my baby was small. She was born full term, 39 weeks, at only 5 1/2 lbs. Although I ate healthy and took vitamins my whole pregnancy. My dr. said not to worry b/c she is growing just fine and is healthy. I exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, WHILE WORKING FULL TIME! (I eventually had to quit b/c my milk dried up despite doing everything I could to stop it.) Anyway, she has always been small (under 40th percentile) and I have always fed healthy foods to her as much as she wanted. At 1 yr. she was 19 lbs. She is now 18 months old and weights 23 lbs. however she is healthy as can be and hardly ever gets sick. Don't limit their food intake, just feed them healthy things like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains!

    On the other hand, I have a relative that gives her child "coffee milk" (not decaff) ever since he was 8 months old! Icecream, cake, cookies, sodas all the time just b/c "he likes it". It's gross, poor child, when he turned 2 years old, he wore 4T! Those are the types of parents that cause their children to be over weight.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Rachel in Canada

    Today's hectic lifestyle has made it so that the average child under two in our part of the world has already had fast food several times, and packaged food with preservatives more times than your whole family has fingers and toes.

    It's not just the parents to blame either. It's today's society. Instead of making both parents work, either alternating shifts or both coming home when it should be time to eat supper (but actually have to make it, then eat it, then it's bedtime so there isnt time to run off any calories) – pay the one breadwinner the salary of what both spouses would make if working so that one parent can be home. That makes less fast food, preservatives from packaged food from the grocery store, less rushing around, supper at a decent hour instead of just before bedtime, and therefore less stress on everyone which in turn improves everyones health because they are eating better, not working as hard, and having meals at appropriate times.

    As a mother of 5 children ranging from 2 yrs to 14 yrs, most of them were quite chubby when they were under two. Then they started walking and they lost alot of it. Today, none of them are overweight in any sort of way – even though there is obesity that runs in the family. And no, my husbands and my genetics dont play a factor in all of them, because they are not all biologically both oif ours. My husbands sister was terribly nicknamed the Michelin baby because of how large she was as a baby, rolls and rolls. Yet when she grew older, she outgrew that baby fat. As a teenager, she was very, very thin (and not because of any eating disorder). As a grown adult today, she is what I would consider the perfect size.

    I dont think any research is going to prove this or that in regards who gets to be fat or not when they get older. Too many factors come into play, such as economically (the fast food and packaged food are actually cheaper to buy than to make home made from scratch products), different cultural backgrounds regardless of where you live now, types of cooking, types of foods bought, diets, etc...

    To say that a child under two is too chubby sets them up for failure. What if that carries on with them as they get older? You've already givem them a complex, low self-esteem, and perhaps the gateway to depression and eating more and therefore being obese in the long run.

    Just leave the little kids alone. Give higher salaries, dont make it so that both parents have to work, stop selling crap food in the grocery stores (that doesnt mean continue to jack up the prices for the food without preservatives, with less fat, etc...), and stop having commercials about food – they make people want to eat! (including children who are watching tv).

    February 16, 2010 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Marie

    Most overweight children I see are standing next to their overweight parents. I have yet to see skinny parents with an obese child. I believe it is the eating habits (fast food) and genetics of the parents. I have also seen many chubby babies who are skinny as adults.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. kmcc

    I'm a new mom of a beautiful 22-week old daughter. Yes, she is formula fed, unfortunetly breast feeding doesn't happen for all of us so the choice isn't ours. She is healthy and doing very well on formula, I recently even started her on cereal and fruits. I've spoken with her pediatrician about her weight and mine, I've always had a weight problem, not caused by parents that didn't care what I had as a child, not because I sat around in front of a tv or video game but because I have weight issues... but I don't want my issues becoming my daughters. No I don't eat out fast food and yes, I cook grilled chicken and fresh vegi's for dinner. But I am aware that weight problems can happen to anyone, both of my brothers are and have always been slim, as well as my mom, on the other hand my dad and I have the battle of the bulge. Like I said my baby is 5 1/2 months old and is in the 90th% in both height and weight – 27" and 17lbs – yes, she'll be tall unlike her mom! But my feeling is that we not make our children afraid of food, give them knowledge – and variety. A cookie one day for a treat and apples the next. So whether you breastfeed or formula feed, no one knows your child like you do, just do as much for your children as you posibly can. As we all know next year a new study will come out and we'll all have been doing it wrong for years and generations. Encouragement and love raise happy healthy baby's...

    February 16, 2010 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mom_In_Maryland

    One more thing, for cheeks, clearly you have a very negative attitude towards healthy babies, and your brother as soon as he left your parents control became obese...and you don't question the unhealthy attitudes that you both seem to have regarding food as adults? Ever wonder where that came from. Before you give your parents all those kudos, you might want to see a shrink, take your brother with you, clearly someone warped both your brains!

    February 16, 2010 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Katie

    Common sense all around, folks. If you think your child is hungry, feed him. If you think he needs some other kind of attention, give him what he needs. I agree way too many people use food as comfort, and I see a lot of people treating their kids to donuts, frenchfries, ice cream, and other crap. My kids were both really skinny, off the bottoms of the charts as they grew – everytime they'd start to develop a little belly, they'd shoot up an inch or two and lose it. Both were breast fed, and both were taking some solids at three months and both were very healthy and active during their childhood and into adulthood. Height/weight/age charts are something made up by insurance companies and they fit very few people at any given time in their lives. For children they don't take metabolism into account. For adults they also don't take body frames – bone and muscle structure – into account.

    Don't put babies on diets. Pay attention to what (and why) you feed yourself and your family. Get and stay active. And forget about height/weight charts and advice that doesn't make sense to you. Don't be afraid to argue with the doctor – you know your children better than anyone.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Thomas Roy

    I love how you post a study from a peer-reviewed clinical journal, and a thousand know-it-alls on the internet start arguing.

    How about you read the science behind it instead of arguing based off of your beliefs?

    February 16, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. 2010Today

    Watch out for this!
    Insurance companies are now trying to deny coverage to infants if they determine from the medical information that the baby is too fat.
    This is regardless of family history where the child slims down as they get older. Trying to fit everyone, adult or child, into the same BMI standards does more harm than good. and creates unrealistic expectations.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. momof boys

    I had two boys whom I BF exclusively for the first year of their lives. One was a very skinny baby and the other was a plump baby with lots of chubby rolls (24 pounds by 6 months). Both were and are tall. They were both thin as children and teens until they discovered beer as adults.
    I absolutely agree with those who have noted that it is impossible to overfeed or underfeed an exclusively breast fed baby. The breast milk supply and content will adjust to the baby's needs. The baby will adjust quantity to need and hunger. It is a beautiful system which WORKS well. The result will be chub in some babies and skinny in others but the mother needs to trust the system is providing what her individual child needs.
    However, I think it is possible there may be clues to childhood obesity in very young children as is suggested by this study. Take a careful look around at young babies and what is being fed to them in what quantity. I am seeing very young children, under 2 years of age, being fed soda in baby bottles, french fries, chips, ice cream, and other high sugar, high fat, low nutrition items. Perhaps a careful look at baby feeding, in all its forms, will yield some clues as to where and how childhood obesity starts. Careful study can lead to understanding the variations in child growth caused by feeding practices. In turn, this can lead to 'best practices' for parent education. At the end of the day, there is some truth to the comment that "the parent is the one who goes to the grocery store."
    Better parent education about proper nutrition for adults and children will help solve the obesity problem.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Cheeks has Issues

    When my mom was pregnant with me, she gained 45 lbs. I was born 7 lbs 11 oz... very average. MY CHEEKS WERE ENORMOUS! Not exaggerating... we have profile shots where you can't see my nose. I am now 26, 5'4" and 108 lbs. Consider that I had my own chubby-cheeked little boy 6 months ago. It is grotesque to think that a baby with chubby cheeks is unhealthy or that his parents are doing something wrong. I have a very low BMI, but the chubby cheeks never leave... it's just a trait like having a big nose. I have never been overweight it my life, and I think chunky babies are the best. People do need to be careful though... there are even baby jar foods that are "desserts." Yeah, my 6-month-old really needs DESSERT. There are always healthy options when it comes to what we feed our kids, we just need to start choosing them. Also, I'm sure the advent of video game consoles hasn't helped us. We need to get our kids off of their behinds, turn off Madden '10 and go play some REAL football.

    Okay. I'm done ranting.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Sundog

    This sounds like BS to me. If a baby has a weight problem already, and it can be detected at that early age, then clearly if they are not being forcefed liquid twinkies, we must be looking at a congenital defect. You don't like fat kids? Stop putting vending machines and McDonald's french fries in public schools. Stop posting coupons for only Highly processed foods like Mac and Cheese, Hamburger Helper and other horrible food choices. If you are poor, you are more likely to have weight issues, because the food you can afford and store is going to be high processed poop. If you are an absentee parent who lets their kids live off of hot pockets and junk–then the same applies.

    But breast feeding? Breast Milk is just like feeding a child blood–slightly higher sugars, and different color, end of story. So this just sounds like silliness to me.

    You can be fat, and not be unhealthy {note I did not say morbidly obese} kids go through growing stages where they are chubby then skinny because of growth spurts that affect both their eating habits and their level of energy.

    Engage in city planning, put sidewalks in, do more to encourage outdoor exercise in a safe child friendly environment and quit subsidizing food stuffs that are highly processed, carb bombs that will lead to inflammatory issues later in life like Heart Disease.

    But get off the pregnant women and Breast feeding women.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. To Thomas Roy

    To Thomas Roy:
    Most people in this comment section are talking about their own personal experiences not their beliefs. Although your own experience turns into your belief, it's hard to argue with your own experience. Do you have children? What was your experience?

    February 16, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Steve

    Of course! The days of old wive's tales of a fat baby is a healthy baby are long gone. I've seen fat lil ones who can hardly crawl. When they do try to walk, they are very unbalanced and Lord knows if they are causing premature injury to their knees and legs. It's the parents. What do we do to shut a kid up? We stick a cookie, a candy, anything sweet to make them shut up. It's a very serious problem. I've said it once and I'll continue saying it. Parents should be held accountable and as such "child abuse" is the first thing that comes to mind. Unintentional or not. We are killing our children and most don't even know it!

    February 16, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. CEM

    My son was huge at 12 months old. I was very worried about his weight. Our peditrician gave us the best advice I think I ever received. He said to trust your child's hunger and let them eat when they are hungry and until they are full they know how much food they need. Then control what they eat so that when they are hungry they eat healthy. My son he grew into his weight – by 4 years old he was back on target. He is now 16 and very fit and healthy. Some days he eats hardly anything and some days there is not enough food in the house to fill him up.

    February 16, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. stacey

    my son began eating solid foods at 6 months, and was breast-fed through age 2. he's very active, bright, and his gross and fine motor skills are incredible. as far as growth charts, he's in the 5th percentile, even though he eats and eats. he has a high metabolism, much (surprise!) like his mom and dad. first, we need to look at the genetic factors, and then consider the types of food we give our children. for us, almost all organic vegetables, fruits. grains, little meat and when we do eat it, it is grass-fed, no hormones, etc. etc. – same for dairy. does this make a difference in size, or is it mainly genetic? not sure.

    February 16, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Indignant Mom

    Cheeks, you have obviously never had children. With my son I gained a whole 20 pounds and he was still 9lb 3oz. My diet was very healthy throughout the pregnancy. By the time he was 6 months old he weighed 26 pounds. He had adorable chubby cheeks. Would you rather see emaciated children? They are supposed to have a good amount of fat so that they can handle the caloric requirements during a growth spurt.

    My son is now 21 months old and weighs 28 pounds. Once kids start crawling they start losing the fat and just get taller. EBF babies just gain weight differently than formula fed children. I think it's irresponsible for the medical community to advise that babies be put on diets.

    February 16, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Mom_in_Bend

    Its funny to read all the responses-Breastfeeding does not necessarily make a thinner, healthier child. My mom breastfed me, and I carry a bit of extra weight and had horrible problems with colds and ear infections growing up-my formula fed sisters on the other hand, were healthy and are thin. And to cheeks: Mom's weight gain has nothing to do with baby! I gained 45 pounds with my first, and she was 7 pounds at birth, I gained 5 pounds with my second, had very well controlled GD, and he was almost 9....Both my babies have been formula fed (not my choice though) and my daughter is now in the 95th for height/15th for weight and son is 50 for both. It really matters what is fed to the babies after you start them on food: my mom fed us horribly unhealthy food-I never knew healthy eating until I moved away from her-with my kids I feed them super healthy, and make my own baby food so I know exactly what is going into their tummy's....

    February 16, 2010 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. me

    Steve: I hardly believe that a crawling baby is being fed cookies and candy, they just started being able to deal with pureed food. I never saw Cookies and Candy baby food. You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

    This article is entirely misleading and far reaching, suggesting that being overweight at 3 months leads to being overweight later. It is vague, and at the expense of confusing people such as you.

    A breastfed 6 month old is likely to be off the charts in weight, and the process of how much food the baby gets is controlled naturally. My breast does not have oz. measurement lines, sorry to say. Instantly starting right after birth a baby makes definite cues when they are hungry, not only crying, babies search for the breast automatically. Search youtube for Baby's First Meal, it shows what happens right after birth when things are allowed to progress naturally instead of immediately taking the baby away from the mom, newborns CRAWL to the breast. Watch it and you will understand. This is why women used to wear their babies, and some even do now. Our natural processes of birth and life are NO different than many mammals in the animal kingdom. You absolutely do not deny them, they have no concept of "I WANT!", their body is reacting naturally, looking for calories when they are NEEDED. If you have not experienced it, you have no idea whatsoever. Don't take articles like these at face value, or you show your ignorance.

    February 16, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Houston Mom

    I think as long as your teach your children that yes it is ok to have junk food in moderation, and to eat healthy and keep some sort of physical activity in their daily schedule you won't have anything to worry about. My 4 year old starts school next year and I was getting a head start at looking at the school lunch menu and I am appalled at when they are feeding our children. Most schools are doing away with recess, but they are still feeding mostly junk. I think it is time for America as a country to wake up and take control over our children.

    February 16, 2010 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. chubby mommy

    "Cheeks": You are a moron! You're insulting an innocent baby. Try being 40 weeks pregnant and having doctors tell you your son will have a mental disability....does having a "chubby" baby matter now?

    February 16, 2010 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Healthy kid

    Ok, so I have a 4 yr old who has never been overweight. Just super tall. She stands over 4ft and weighs just under 47 lbs. She is very lean, muscular girl for her age. Sometimes, in photos, she almost seems too thin. Her a pediatrician has always been pleased with her growth. Now here is the thing, you have to make sure, you ARE watching your child's diet, from the minute they are born. Some parents want to see their kids grow, so they feed excessively. Some parents don't feed enough. You have to find what works for your child and family. Also, what about daily activity? As parents, we control everything our children take in. From food to television, we are responsible. Having a good balance of food and activity, is key for a weight control. That goes for adults and babies!

    Now for those of you, who need help on your reading comprehension; nowhere did this article state putting your babies on a diet. It simply suggested, watching what they consume, getting the advice from your child's pediatrician and making sure YOU help them develop good eating habits. These are ALL essential for a growing, healthy baby.

    And last but not least, c'mon people....your country (and I say your country as I am a Canadian), has an obesity/overweight epidemic. 1/3 of Americans are obese, 1/3 are overweight. That would make 2/3 of your country FAT! I think this article is simply suggesting, that if you don't want your kids to be part of that statistic, implement good diet combined with a dose of daily activity!

    February 16, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Debbie

    This study is a load of crap. Come on we should control the eating habits of a 3 month old. Pure drivel.
    It's actually very easy. Too much food, not enough activity leads to obesity. Done.

    February 16, 2010 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Formula proud

    Thank you Tatiana for sticking up for moms who must bottle-feed! We get it, we get it! Yes, breast feeding is best. Yes, it is beneficial. Yes, I wish with all my heart I had the chance to truly nurse my babies. However, I have been unable to conceive in 7 years of trying and have two adopted sons who received formula from a bottle. And before breast-feeding advocates jump back on their soap box, I tried nursing my adopted son. He nursed from a supplemental nurser for more than 5 months, but I never produced a drop. Around 5 months old the largest tube was still way too slow for him and 5 oz. took 45 minutes and lots of frustration and crying for him (followed by volumes of spit-up from crying). Maybe a little consideration and understanding is called for?

    February 16, 2010 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
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