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. William

    Wow, people have poor reading comprehension here. They aren't saying that you should put your baby on a diet. They are saying that parents that are overfeeding their toddlers frequently were overfeeding their kid as an infant as well. Conversely, the implication is that parents that were giving their children the right amount of food as an infant continued to feed their kid proper portion sizes as they grew older.

    Of course, the entire premise of this article is flawed. Americans are fat because we eat garbage. You want to fix the weight problem, give your kids an apple instead of a a bag of Dorritos and a Coke (no, not your infant, your older kids.).

    February 16, 2010 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. K. Ross

    I noticed with my second son that my family pediatrician had ceased telling me where my children were on the percentile scale. My kids have always been thin (20-30 percenters, if that). I asked him why he didn't tell me the percentile scores anymore and he replied that "At this point in America, the kids in the 50th percentile are often overweight, so we want parents to stop shooting for the high numbers. When I tell parents of healthy skinny kids their kids' numbers, they try to make them gain weight." He was right. I can't tell you the number of adults I've seen trying to get kids (yes, as young as 3 months) to eat more and more and more. I don't blame parents because I understand that we use food to express love and we want to know that our kids are being nurtured. We just need to realize that there are other ways to comfort a baby (or a toddler, or a teen) than to feed an oral fixation that may lead to emotional eating (or general over eating) later in life.

    February 16, 2010 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Guest

    While I am very focused on nutrition and good eating habits in my family, I am concerned about the potential negative consequences of publishing an article like this. While I agree that there are some overfed babies out there under one year of age, there are also parents who will unnecessarily worry about their baby's weight because he/she has chubby cheeks and rolls on his/her thighs. Perhaps people recall the babies from the 80s and 90s who suffered brain damage after being fed fat free milk because their parents thought they were getting fat. Parents should not resist feeding a hungry baby because of a little pudge. My breastfed babies both had a roll or two in their thighs at 4 or 5 months, and now they are thin, muscular gymnasts. If you know you are making good food choices for yourself and your kids, you shouldn't worry if they look a little chubby at less than a year old.

    February 16, 2010 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. AKchic

    I have four boys – all of which were not the tiniest of babies at birth. Some were downright chow-hogs (oldest would down an 8oz bottle every 3 hours at 6 weeks). All of my kids are tall and skinny. My kids were too mobile and active to keep any weight on. They still eat like horses.

    Adults need to teach their kids how to eat right when they start feeding themselves (whether by hand or utensil), and teach them the value of activity and exercise.

    February 16, 2010 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. mom

    One thing that most seem to have forgotten or disregarded...
    A breastfed baby needs to work harder for dinner than a bottle fed baby. The calories burned in order to consume calories is drastically increased in nursing babies, verses babies feeding with a triple pierced bottle nipple. Right here, you have a difference. Once weaned, (at different ages depending on child), things tend to even out.
    Keep in mind, if mom uses a pump, and then bottle feeds, there is no change in nutritional value, just a change in calories burned. With formula, you are typically dealing with a higher fat content and fewer calories burned during consumption, but again, this will usually even out after weaning.
    The baby's energy expended in breast/bottle feeding then contributes to muscle tone/developement, which remains with the child throughout their lifetime. One big bonus for the breastfed baby, but this benefit does not greatly reduce for a bottle baby; the child is still working for dinner, just not as hard. This is a simple advantage, in the fashion of 'exercise makes you stronger', that nursing mother's can feel proud of, and bottle mom's can encourage by using nipples with smaller/fewer piercings.
    Coming from a mom of three, with all of my children having their own nursing habits and nutritional issues, all children are different, and all children can sense emotional distress on Mom's part. Therefore, nurse if you can, pump if necessary, and formula if you have to. Do not let any doctor, nurse, or health care worker guilt you into anything that you are uncomfortable with. The end result should always be a healthy, happy baby and a happy, healthy (and sane) mom.
    P.S.....Has anyone ever had an 'average' child on those height/weight charts?

    February 16, 2010 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JustMe

    I am the mother of six; three boys and three girls. My girls were all born full term at 5 1/2 pounds exactly. My 1st boy was 8 lbs, 2nd was 10 lbs. and 3rd was 7 lbs. They all had different eating habits early on even though I breast fed all until at least 1 year. By a year old all of my boys might have been considered to be very chubby even though they were completely breast fed. All my girls would have been considered underweight; also breast fed. I think their growth patterns were genetically programed. As they went through toddler years the boys remained heavier but thinned out naturally by preschool years. The girls never got very heavy although the youngest one was a slight bit heavier than the other two. We just kept offering healthy well balanced meals and letting them eat as much healthy food as they wanted. We have never had snack foods around. Today my children range in age from 9 to 24 years. All of them are tall and lean. Those chubby toddler boys are now over 6 feet tall and are as lean as can be. They eat healthy foods and don't eat snacks.

    I think all you have to do is offer healthy well balanced meals and have an active life style and your kids will be a healthy weight. You don't have to manage calories or make them stressed out about what they are eating and when. Just offere healthy meals, stop buying snacks and get outdoors and play.

    February 16, 2010 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. doc

    As a pediatrician who has a keen interest in childhood obesity, I find this study useful, yet it must also be taken with a grain of salt. Many babies, especially breastfed babies will balloon up in size in the first few months. After 6-9 months, they tend to pick a lower growth curve–the curve they are more likely meant to be on.

    With this study, it's key to pay attention to wording--looking at obese kids and seeing that they were heavy at 3 months of age is MUCH different than saying that all heavy 3-month-olds will end up obese. Ultimately, that distinction means that 3 months of age isn't really a "tipping point."

    February 16, 2010 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. zee

    I think this article is a bit reckless. It may scare parents into underfeeding babies, and that is never a good thing. Most babies naturally know when to stop eating and don't "stuff" themselves. They need proper nutrition for growth. I hope people don't take this too seriously.

    February 16, 2010 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Linda

    I had a "chubby" baby. 11 lbs at birth, nursed for 18 months now is 6 ft 4 and can't keep the weight on....tall and thin

    February 16, 2010 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. concerned

    this is ridiculous!! how can you say a 3 month old is fat..breastfed babies are chubby but healthy and once they crawl, the weight gradually comes off. This is just confusing useless information especially for new parents stressed out with the demands of taking care of baby..

    February 16, 2010 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. YC

    This is just more "news" to make already nervous parents more worried. For the first 3 months, you worry about putting on enough weight. From then on, you worry about putting too much. If the first smile comes a week too late, you worry about autism.

    This study, like many others that get so much press, are based on slight statistical arguements–if you're chubby at 3 months, you have a 25% of being obese as an adult, if not, you have a 20% chance... Blown way out of proportion.

    February 16, 2010 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Marisa

    My babies - now grown were all nursed into their todldler years. Each child tripled his/her birth weight by 1 year. Daughter - bw 7 lbs 11 oz, 1 yr 22 lbs; 1st son - bw 9 lbs 5 oz, 1 yr 28 lbs; 2nd son bw 10 lbs 6 ozs; 1 yr 32 lbs.

    All three children maintained healthy weights through their childhood. The youngest is really the only one who struggled with his weight but that was mainly because it took him awhile to figure out that when he wasn't competing in a sport he better quit eating like he was!

    I, on the other hand, was a 10 lbs baby and at 4 months my mom was told to put me on skim milk because I was too fat. I have a had weight issues most of my life. If my mom had been encouraged to continue to nurse me I would probably have been 30 lbs at a year but would probably have had fewer issues with weight.

    Of course there are always parents who feed their babies silly things - like ice cream at 6 mth or cereal at 2 mths. Formula and especially breastfeeding are not the issues for infant obesity - it would be other underlying feeding issues.

    February 16, 2010 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. BFMom

    So....my mom was told she was "too skinny" when she got pregnant and all three of her babies were 8lbs 8oz or GREATER! Cheeks, I don't know where YOUR scientific research comes from, but my sister is a ob/gyn and she AND my doctor told me gestational diabetes has NOTHING to do with pregnant moms over eating/gaining too much weight. It happens to random women and it happened to me, so it's great to know that while I'm eating extremely healthy during pregnancy and am later diagnosed with GD, doofuses like you with no medical expertise (or common sense) whatsoever are going around blaming mothers for a random condition that affects 15% of all pregnant women (regardless of their weight/eating habits). There is also NO evidence that "fat" moms secrete fatty breast milk...why don't you stop making medical stuff up as you go and leave it up to DOCTORS...you know, people who actually went to med school and not idiots who just hate "fat" people? Cheeks, maybe you should never have children. You seem like the sick kind of a parent who would "accidentally" starve their child to near death because you think they're too fat. Point is, BABIES get fat because they have no way to truly regulate their weight. My son is extremely tall and he was "fat", but now he's just super long and his weight percentile is going down while his height percentile is going up because I'm 5'11" and his daddy is 6'3"

    February 16, 2010 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. just another mother

    to "healthy kid" – in 2004, a qtr of Canadian's were obsese and the number was rising, you're in the same sinking boat as those south of your border

    Why does everything need to be a breastfeeding vs bottle feeding issue? Can we please stop arguing about this? Parents just need to focus on good nutrition (for the WHOLE family) and exercise.

    And, the actual number of women that CAN NOT breastfeed (mother's required medications, breast w/o mammary glands,...) is just more than 0%. Doesn't every mother have the right, however, to decide what is best for her family? (of course, one option is very expensive and some mothers are letting tax payers pay this for them). Food for thought.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Laura

    Exclusively breastfed infants should not be limited in feeding. Breastfeeding helps to lessen the chance of weight problems later in life. In addition, BPA in bottles may have contributed to weight issues currently. Food for thought...

    February 16, 2010 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kim

    Don't confuse a suckling baby with a nursing baby; a baby who suckles for comfort is not necessarily drinking any milk. And what is a pacifier but a fake nipple?

    As for the person who thinks that weight is why a baby trying to walk is "very unbalanced", you are just plain dumb.

    I gained 23 lbs in a pregnancy with GD to give birth naturally to an 8 lb baby. Who went on to be a very chubby, EBF 6-month-old baby who his babysitter nicknamed gordito. Now at 14 months, he still breastfeeds (though not exclusively, as he now primarily eats solids) and is so tall and thin that his babysitter had to re-nickname him flaquito. Thus debunking all of your theories.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. corpsmanswife

    I think this is a load of bunk. My 15 month old is 24lbs...she's in the 75th percentile for weight and only in the 25th for her height. She had her well-baby appt. yesterday. The doctor didn't seem concerned at all. We offer her everything we eat, and have found that she's really fond of some foods that are healthy but not typically kid foods (like hummus). I think as long as they're active (which she is...very active) and you teach them to make good choices, they'll be fine. My 4 year old, who is right about 45lbs (and on the shorter side), would rather have a big raw carrot for a snack than crackers or chips. I'm not worried about my kids' weight because I know that we're teaching them to make the right choices and be active.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Stacie

    Articles, such as this, although well-intentioned, are doing more harm than good. Want to set your child up to be a disordered eater and fat as an adult, then restrict their food as a baby. (When babies become food insecure, they will eat everything in sight – check the research). A baby comes with a perfectly acurate internal system which tells him/her when he is hungry and full. Yes, parents need to pay attention to the cues, and we need more education about this. However, instilling fear about fat kids isn't helping, it is harming, in fact it is doing damage to a lot of parents and kids. 1) 75% of kids who are fat end up skinny as adults (as long as you don't mess with their natural internal food regulation. Mess with mother nature, and chances are you will have a fat adult). 2) Kids who are fat in adulthood and have not had their internal regulation messed with, usually come from families who are naturally fat. NO amount of dieting is EVER going to fix this. 3) You can be fat and fit – (again, check the research.) 4) There are a large number of obesity researchers who are funded by pharmaceutical companies and the diet industry. Buyer beware. (One research study showed that obesity researchers have a tendency to be fat phobic and prejudiced against fat people). 5) Lack of sleep and processed foods can negatively affect your health. Sleep deprivation can affect how food is processed by the body (Some say sleep deprivation is a risk factor for Type II Diabetes). Processed foods do not give the body the proper nutrients they need (even if the label says it does, laboratories can't do as well as Mother Nature). 6) Physical movement is part of the digestive system...your body needs and wants you to move in order to process your food better. 10) Want your kids to be healthy eaters – than make sure you eat meals together, as a family. Your kids, through 18 years of experience and watching you, will eat like you as an adult. They need YOU to be a healthy eater so they can be a healthy eater...because they WILL do what you do. Be the eater you want them to be (this includes having a healthy respect for your body – a very important lesson for girls).

    February 16, 2010 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. jd

    perhaps mothers that want to breast feed could pump, so they know exactly how much the intake is? my kids were all formula fed and we kept a chart on every feeding to make sure they had enough as all were very tiny at birth.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Momof3healthyboys

    Cheeks, thanks for a good laugh! LOL!!!LOL!!! On the other hand, if you genuinely believe what you've said, then you are desperately uninformed and obviously troubled. Please, please, go see a professional about your food-related issues.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. christina

    Interesting stuff here. I agree w/the sentiment about never seeing obese children with thin parents. Some of these stories are quite sad and concerning - the 5 y.o. who weighs over 100lbs?! That's a medical emergency and I sincerely hope it's being treated as such.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mimi

    My son, who is almost 6 now, was 10.1 when he was born, and by 4 months, weighed in at 20 lbs. Im only 5'1, and not over weight. Dad is 5'8 and sleder. Once he started crawling and walking, he burned off all the excess weight and has since, been a string bean. I breast fed him for 18 months, and have only had to take him to the dr MAYBE 5 times because he was sick. No ear infections, no flu, just me, a paranoid mother.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Virginia

    My children are now 25 and 21. They were breastfed for over a year each. The first one was always in a lower percentile in weight and the doctor said that was fine as long as she showed progress. In fact, he said that it was fine to be below the 50th percentile and making steady growth because American children were overweight – and that was 25 years ago! She went from breastmilk to skim milk – the pediatrician said she didn't need the fat in whole milk. The second child was average weight – she went from breastmilk to 2% milk (different pediatrician) for a brief period and then to skim milk. My advice would be to talk to your pediatrician and use a growth chart, provide healthy food choices for them, and as they grow up make sure they have opportunities to exercise. I'm a teacher and am constantly alarmed when my students tell me how much time they spend in front of the TV and video games.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Catherine

    This article does not reflect my reality. Both my sons were full term 8 lbs 3 oz at birth. I breastfeed both of them for almost a year. Both were very chubby, happy, HEALTHY babies (no formula) who crawled off the weight as soon as they were moving around. They were hardly ever sick beyond the usual snotty noises and they NEVER needed the antibiotics that my friends children lived on. They are young men now and both are about 5 ft 9inches. Neither is over 180 and both remained average weight throughout childhood. What they did do is – went outside to play after school every day. My neighbors hated it but my kids were outside where they belonged and participated in sports (baseball, football, lacrosse and wrestling). My mother (who is overweight) tried lecturing me when they were babies about fat cells that stay with you for life and I pushed back then. It is hard enough to breast feed without this kind of dumb advise. Women should be strongly encouraged to breast feed not given additional things to worry about and ripping infants from their breasts. Once the kids are eating regular food keep them off junk food and soda and they'll be fine. If it is not in your house they can't eat it.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. jfa

    Both my kids were BF'd and my son was always off the charts in weight his first year. Now he is 8, wears a 10slim pant and is in the bottom 20% percentile for body mass index. The key is not putting babies on a diet, it is not filling preschoolers and young kids with unlimited amounts of sugar and processed foods and then letting them watch tv all day. My kids get healthy snacks, healthy dinners that they can eat as much of as they want, and they spend several hours after school playing outside with friends. There is no secret, no magic bullet needed, just healthy habits.

    February 16, 2010 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. jennylea

    i find this article to be lacking at best and totally misleading and irresponsible at worst. as the parent of an above average, healthy 7 month old baby boy (10lbs, 24 inches at birth and 25lbs, 30 inches now), i understand how scary and overwhelming it can be to feel as though one is doing the best for their newborn while trying to navigate all the information available, much of which is either based on hearsay and anecdote or so much "medicalese" that the average, sleep deprived new parent can't understand. by focusing this article on limiting a newborn's food intake, ms. hagen promotes the dangerous and irresponsible notion that infants should be limited in their food intake during the most critical time of development. perhaps if ms. hagen had focused more on how parents can recognize and respond to their baby's feeding signals, which seems to really be the meat of the study, this article would actually be useful. but then again, "is your baby too chubby" is a more catchy and alluring headline than "learn to read your baby's hunger cues to help fight childhood obesity."

    February 16, 2010 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. skeptical mom

    This is absurd! I'd like to see the real break down of this study! What was the demographic? How many children were studied? Who conducted the study? How long did it take? Who funded the study? What makes this journal anymore reputable than the one that published the study on vaccinations and autism? You know the one that was recently recanted after YEARS of studies to the contrary!
    No way am I going to chang ANY of my parenting when it comes to feeding my baby until I see MORE proof!

    February 16, 2010 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Joan

    I know for sure , and it's not news, I heard sbout that like 10 years ago, when I lived in Europe, that first two years are critical not because you overfeed your baby and she gains weight like lets say 6 year old, but becasue during these two years in baby's produces fat cells that will stay with her forever after that time, in the future, as an adult, she will only make cells bigger – if she gains, or smaller – if she losses weight – but the amout of them will stay the same (unless she gets lipo in 30 years:) . It's alld true, nothing new.

    February 16, 2010 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Anonymous

    That is completely ridiculous to suggest breastfed babies could be overfed! The 'comfort nursing' that some are referring to occurs after the breast is empty and baby continues what is called 'non-nutritive' sucking. The baby is not receiving more milk at that point, and let-down in the mother does not occur. I am sorry if you don't understand the physiological process of milk-ejection in the breast, but it is inaccurate to suggest that the baby just keeps eating and eating.

    For those moms whose babies were really big and likely fussy when they were only breastfed early on, there is one scenario: if baby was nursing for less than 5-8 minutes at a time on one side, then baby was getting only the high calories, low fat milk, and not the higher fat cream known as the hind-milk that comes from remaining on the same breast or returning to it after being burped. I had this with my second child, and he was gaining weight rapidly, but not satisfied. This usually happens when baby is rushed (things are noisy, mom gets busy, etc) or mothers follow the lousy instructions often given by doctors,nurses, or formula-company pamphlets that tell you to nurse, then 'switch sides' after so many minutes. This practice sets off a cycle that many moms are frustrated by and unaware of. It can also happen if mom's milk comes down so fast that baby pulls away, and does not finish emptying that breast.

    Anyway, the obesity police have done off the deep end if they start blaming breastfeeding!!! How ARROGANT.

    February 16, 2010 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. WOW

    Our pediatrician had nothing but compliments on how gorgeous our daughter was until her 1 year appointment. Suddenly, he looked at her and then her chart. Without looking back at me, he said, "You know, they used to tell us to watch around puberty. Then it became years 6-8. Now they say you can tell before 2." He was implying that my daughter was becoming or going to be obese. She was 1. She has remained taller than any other child her age and is solid muscle, which we all know weighs more than fat. She has limited juice, 2% milk and all the water she wants. Her favorite food? Tomatoes. She is built like her 6'2" daddy and nothing is going to stop those genes, even if she decides to eat (gasp) a Twinkie. (Just kidding, those nasty things are not allowed in our house!)

    Seriously though, I feel this is simply another way for the government to get into people's lives. Those adults who cared if they were overweight did something about it when the government's health warnings went out. Then the high schools had the Presidential Fitness Challenge. Then they wanted us to deal with ill-tempered 6-8 year olds. Hmmm. . .how to REALLY get into the public's eye? BABIES!

    It is a fear that your baby will grow to be obese. Those who already are may or may not receive help from their parents. Those who are not, but have parents who fear they will, will be enrolled in new "2 and below" fitness classes, thus boosting the economy.

    Educating parents would be the key here. Rather than paying for that out of my tax dollars, how about asking the restaurants to post the information in their menus (the only place the public seems to be able to gain knowledge about their health) and then regulating what is offered on their menus. Instead of healthy food costing more, perhaps foods high in bad fat and bad cholesterol should be higher priced.

    February 16, 2010 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mom of five

    I have 5 children, all were above 95-percentile when they were babies, None are obese (or even close) now. There ages range from 7-25. I really don't believe this pop-science article.

    Not everyone can make their own baby food (cripes!) or not buy any processed or fast foods – really, have you ever looked at the obesity problem as a economic issue!!!??? DUH! Those who are poor buy cheap (affordable) food and most of that food is fattening/sugary – but my kids did not have problems from having hot dogs or chicken nuggets some times. I never put them on "diets" – diets are what make you FAT! If we start giving these kids calorie restrictions when they are babies, they are going to have a lifetime of issues with food!

    No, don't give them pop in their sippy cups, and don't feed them spoonful after spoonful of ice cream when they are 6 months old, but for goodness sake, let's look at keeping PE and sports in schools and stop with bashing every little thing people eat. It doesn't do any good and creates problems later on in life.

    February 16, 2010 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. dee

    Sandi K- you are so right. I have noticed with my niece that if she goes to bed sucking her index finger- once i taught she sucked her finger because she was hungry (which is sometimes true), so 1 night I just left the bottle in her mouth while she slept- when the bottle tilted that she wasn't getting any milk when she sucked, she just kept sucking and stayed asleep- she used the comfort of sucking her finger to fall and stay asleep.

    I do disagree with the fact that a chubby baby will be an overweight adult- if the parents feed the child to keep from playing with the child, holding the child, rocking it to sleep ( babies fuss when they are sleepy, but cant sleep easily) then the child will be chubby and stay chubby- but most baby fat drops off- my other niece was relatively big as a kid- now I think she is too skinny- she is picky with food- she is 5 now, and there was a time when she would only eat a real meal once a day.

    February 16, 2010 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. concerned parents

    most people are focusing on the wrong issue here. the fact is that more than 30% of our kids are obese. that weight gain must be starting somewhere. while it starts later in some kids, it does start early in some of them. while parents whose kids ultimately loose weight are proud, remember there are a lot of worried parents, whose kids do not loose the weight as they grow up. these kids are then exposed to a lot of diseases, they can do without,

    February 16, 2010 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Susanne

    This is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. It would be child abuse to starve your child. Chubby babies are NORMAL!!! If you want to raise an anorexic/bullemic child, just follow Michelle Obama's advice. We'll go from having overweight kids to having kids who die of anorexia. Please end this obsession with food control!

    February 16, 2010 at 23:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. SoCalCaral

    My kids (all 4) were always in the 95% for height, and usually off the charts for weight (over 99%). They were not even ever really chubby looking. All but one wore slim clothes, have been on swim team forever...have NEVER been overweight. The youngest has had a recurring injury that has prevented her from exercising the 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week that her siblings have always done. She is chubby, at 14. What caused her problem now? Was it being a chubby baby? No, of course not. It is lack of exercise. We're working on the orthopedic problems, and hopefully she will be back in the water by summer, and the weight will melt away as the miles swum mount. Our forefathers WORKED HARD. We sit on our butts. THAT is why they are getting so very wide.

    February 16, 2010 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. AZ

    WOW! I have to agree many of the comments that it's WHAT we're feeding kids, not how much. Look at the parents; if you BF and eat junk, your child is getting junk. Formula, frankly, is not perfect either. When a child's first food is a french fry and the parents see nothing wrong with this we have a culture problem that needs addressed asap. It has less to do with quantity but rather quality. I feed my children only foods with no added sugars, salts or preservatives and I have been called "overprotective" and even "extremist". My children are rarely sick, their skin has a healthy glow, and they are not "fat". They can eat as much as they want as long as it's nutritious- and some days they eat as much as my husband! Children go through growth spurts and regulating their intake to be equal day in and day out does not account for this and risks malnutrition at critical growth stages.
    We will get out of our children what we put into them. They learn their eating habits from parents and we shape their tastes. They may run it off as toddlers and teenagers, but their activity levels are masking the damage of their diets. For less active children they symptoms are just showing up sooner.

    February 17, 2010 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Jessica

    I'm pretty sure this article is more or less directed towards those parents that CONTINUALLY feed their children. We've all seen the parents and the advice to force feed your baby the ENTIRE bottle if formula feeding (or my favorite while I was breastfeeding) to pump and then feed the baby from the bottle to make sure that at 2 weeks of age they're taking a full 6 ozs! "They sleep better, they'll gain weight better etc. etc." And of course the parents that allow their children at 6 months of age to immediately start eating junk food and by the time they're 1 they're over 30lbs!
    Everyone just needs to chill. No one is suggesting you put your baby on a diet. Just look at what you're feeding them. PLENTY of studies have shown that your child will have a preference for whatever foods you introduce them to in the first two years of life. Give them junk? They'll crave the junk foods when they're older. Give them fruits and veggies? They'll want those! My first daughter is definite proof of this! She has yet to dislike any fruit or vegetable we've put in front of her (including the ones neither my husband nor I like.) She is now almost 3 and she will pick the healthy choice over an unhealthy one any time.
    My god, we're parents... We need to take a little responsibility for this life we've all created and give them the best start they can have. This means yes, put aside YOUR preferences for crap food and give them healthy alternatives EVEN if you do not like it. Don't you want your child to have a better life than you? (FYI I came from a lower income family that didn't always have fresh fruits and vegetables. Yes, I was given a TON of junk food as a child. But in my quest to be an example for my daughters, I'm eating healthier, eating foods I generally don't like and not giving away any indication I don't like it in order to not deter them from trying it. I will give them a better start in life than I had.)

    February 17, 2010 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Ed

    It's likely a valid study – but there is such a thing as an outlier. Half the commenters here seem to take it as a personal attack.

    So for all you mamas that have your panties in a bunch because you had a "chubby baby who turned into a slim, active teenager," calm down. I believe, you, we believe you. It also doesn't mean that your precious kid totally invalidates the whole study.

    Alas, people are only going to believe what they want to believe ...

    February 17, 2010 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Babydoc

    This is a HORRENDOUS example of misinterpretation of medical "science" and either irresponsible or ignorant reporting. This study took children who were obese, reviewed their growth history, and found that many were quite heavy when they were infants. However, it does virtually NOTHING to suggest we can predict at an early age which babies will have problems later in life. It is analogous to saying "we looked at violent criminals in supermax prisons and they all liked football when they were 6 years old. Therefore, if your child likes football at 6 years old, be very afraid!!!" Ridiculous. We don't have any good idea what percentage of "heavy babies" the study group represented. Out of roughly 27,000 total patients in the sample they used, they only reviewed 480 charts and only 184 met criteria for the study. Could there have been a selection bias in selecting charts for review, for example, only the most extreme or obviously obese kids got labeled with the Obesity diagnosis code? Even if we assume perfectly random composition of the sample group, the study defined obesity as being above the 85%ile for BMI–that means 15% of the population should fall under that category or, out of 27,000 patients, 4050!!! Even if we assumed ALL 184 patients studied actually DID have a "Tipping Point" in their early months, that's still less than 5% of the babies who met the 85%ile criterion. Bottom line, this study tells us virtually NOTHING about whether it is appropriate to take action, or even be significantly concerned, when we find a 3 month old is "overweight." While apparently obese children have a significant chance of having been heavy babies, it doesn't necessarily follow that heavy babies are highly likely to grow up to be obese children.

    February 17, 2010 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. momof9

    These tests are stupid. Just because a baby is chubby does not mean it will grow up fat! Eating too much = FAT. Take a skinny baby and plop them in a house where too much food is force fed and they will most likely turn out fat! On the other hand take a chubby child (not baby) and put them in a house that moderates food intake and they generally will lose weight! I am not talking diet, but MODERATION.
    It is moderation. I have yet to see a fat child who eats a normal amount of food. Period. But I have seen a lot of fat babies turn out rail thin!

    February 17, 2010 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. CaliMom

    This article is crap.

    What a bunch of horrible advice. As a parent of healthy kids, this article verges on dangerous and ill advised.

    Trust your instincts – breastfeed with wild abandon. As soon as the kid is mobile, the fat falls away. Keep the kid away from the television and mcdonalds and things will be fine.

    RESEARCH the growth charts. They were generated by one community in Ohio of children who were EXCLUSIVELY FED FORMULA. The charts are BUNK.

    February 17, 2010 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Jennifer

    I was a rather large (8 lb. 8 oz.) baby, and I was just plain fat by the time I was two. Somehow, I went from being a fat 2-year-old to a normal-sized kid, despite the fact that I subsisted primarily on soft drinks and junk food. As an adult, I'm a bit too thin, and actually have trouble gaining wait, though my eating habits are still extremely unhealthy by the conventional definition. I'm glad my mother didn't limit my food intake as a baby – I doubt it would have done me any good as an adult.

    February 17, 2010 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Stupidity

    This whole study is ridiculous. Kids are overweight because they're eating too much of the wrong things and not moving. What's going to happen is you're going to get underfed babies who are not going to get the nutrition they need because parents are going to be afraid their babies are going to be 'fat'. Then they're not going to get the proper nutrition for brain development. I have a friend who told me she didn't want to over feed her breastfed baby. Her baby is so underweight and now at 15 months he has to see a nutritionist. Everyone I know who breastfed their babies has a perfectly healthy child who slims down after they start moving. This isn't rocket science! Take a look in the grocery store...everything is processed and full of sugar!! That's what kids are getting fed!!! I know people who say their kids don't eat fruit. Well, duh...look at the parents...neither do they! They only eat processed snacks, chicken nuggets and mac & cheese. PLEASE. These studies are too chicken to go after the real problem. The food industry. Can't fight big corporations...they control too much and have too much money.

    February 17, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. ccmama

    My son weighed 10.2 pounds at birth. 20 pounds at 4 months. So on and so forth. When they start off big, they will be over weight for a while. As soon as he started to walk and get older the weight came off. He is now 17 and by all standards, under weight. His doctor is not concerned by his "under weight" as many of the kids today are over their limit. As long as you watch what these kids eat. They will be fine. You are their primary example. You as a parent should be healthy. I bet if you look at the over weight kids, their parents are over weight too.

    February 17, 2010 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. feralhiker

    I hear you " cheeks", it's the bloated feet that always grossed me out. Seriously, I don't think a lot of parents even notice when their kid is obese...or they "don't want to damage their self esteem" by acknowledging that there are rolls of fat spilling out of their clothes, and they can barely waddle across the room for their treats. That self esteem will be in the crapper when the kid starts school cause the other kids aren't going to help Mama make believe her kid is a normal weight.
    Having an overweight toddler is like having an overweight dog. There's no excuse for it....you as the parent control the food.

    February 17, 2010 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Julius

    Based on out second son, this is nuts! He was so round he rolled up stairs rather than crawl. Now he is taller than is 22 year old brother, a tennis player, thin and muscular. And he can EAT! He worked it all off, and I think he'll never be fat!

    February 17, 2010 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 2Girls

    I have a 3-year old girl. She was exclusively breastfed for 15 months and solids were added slooooowly. She was born at 8lb 3oz and was barely 18lb at her 1-year checkup. Her pedi told me that breastfed babies lay down fewer fat cells than formula-fed babies, so while breastfed babies may "plump up" earlier, they have fewer fat cells overall, so in the long run, tend to be thinner children and adults. Today, she is a perfectly healthy 33lbs at 3 years and we're starting to hit the point where she needs 4Ts for length, but 3Ts for waist size.

    Scheduling feedings as an infant/toddler can be very dangerous. Babies, infants, toddlers cannot tell time! They simply respond to their bodies. How can you teach an infant that they cannot eat yet because the clock says so?

    I also am a bit terrified of women who may not realize that the drastic difference between breast milk and formula is that breast milk changes its composition over time as your child grows, unlike formula. This is why breastfed babies do NOT need more breast milk in a bottle once he/she hits 6 months or so, unlike a formula fed baby. If a mother pumps and sends breast milk to the daycare provider, no more than 4oz at a time in a bottle should be necessary. We often run into problems where daycare providers are not familiar with breast milk vs. formula and are accustomed to seeing 6-8oz bottles of formula for a child the same age as a breastfed baby getting only 3-4oz of breast milk and they insist to the parents that more is needed when in fact, it is not.

    Also, to Sandi Kubbs...offering bottles of water can be detrimental to a breastfed baby's nursing relationship. Moms will produce what baby needs, and since breastmilk is 90% water, there is no need for additional water. Also, water in infants can cause water toxicity-it doesn't take much...just ask my two nurse friends who work at the children's hospital here. Offering water can cause electrolyte imbalances and it takes less water for this to occur in an infant than it does an adult. Also, offering a breastfed baby water instead of allowing the baby to nurse fills the baby's stomach and signals the mother's body that milk is not needed at that time, which can lead to a drop in her supply over a few days of this.

    In short...WATCH your child. DO NOT force a baby to finish a bottle. It is OK and perfectly acceptable to offer smaller amounts more often...their tummies are small! Feeding a 5-month old, whose stomach is only as big as his fist, 8 oz of formula is absurd! Why can't parents offer 4oz instead, and then 4oz a few hours later? Why stuff the baby, stretch out the stomach at such an early age, and teach the baby that being stuffed is the equivalent of being satisfied?

    February 17, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Cris

    The "cheeks" are muscle, NOT fat. Try suckling (especially breastfed babies) to get all your calories that you need in a day. It is hard. That's why breastfed babies have those beautiful cheeks, and sometimes skinny bodies (like my baby). And that is also why the cheeks go down once the baby drops the breast or bottle.

    February 17, 2010 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Oleg

    This article has a potential to be dangerously misunderstood by new parents. Newborns need to be woken up every 2-3 hours and fed as much as they are able to consume until they regain their birth weight (or expected normal birth weight if preemie). As for older breastfed babies they constantly want to suckle and I don't see how anyone can see substituting a pacifier as natural – those haven't been there for most of human history. Wait until most of the diet is solid food and then by all means work on healthy eating habits.

    February 17, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Donna

    Oh good lord are you ALL sheeple?? Can you not think for yourselves and use your own common sense??? Do you need an article to tell you what and how much to feed your baby? Guess what, they will be what they will be and you will love them WHATEVER they weigh. I am overweight, and I got there by my own choices. I also have FIVE kids, from 23 to 20 months and NOT ONE of them are overwight or even come close to it. When a baby turns it head from a spoon or a bottle/breast guess what? ITS NOT HUNGRY! When you toddler (like mine) says "all done", they are ALL DONE. I grew up having to finish everything on my plate and that is one stupid mentality I have not and will not ever cast upon my kids. Stop reading so many of these "suggestive" articles and think for yourself. Good grief.

    February 17, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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