Maybe it's our fault

I just left our pediatrician’s office where I learned that Tallulah has dropped into the 7th percentile for weight. Her doctor cautiously broached the topic with me, asking if she ate well (oh my heavens, she does) and if she was very active (she is).

He ultimately said he wasn’t worried – not that I think he was to begin with – and I’m not worried either.

Had he suggested that I change anything about the way I feed her, I would have listened because I really do respect his opinion, but I’m pretty sure I would have resisted.

I don’t profess to be a health professional nor do I claim to have any specific scientific knowledge on this topic, but I do have a common-sense theory. I think many moms (unwittingly) play a role in the childhood obesity problem that’s so prevalent today.

If I had time, I would do some research to see if moms in countries where childhood obesity isn’t a widespread issue are presented with height and weight charts at their children’s check-ups, but since I don’t I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I doubt they are, or that at least if they are those charts are emphasized/explained differently than they are in American exam rooms.

I have heard about so very many situations in which moms of children who fall into the lower half of the weight chart are encouraged to offer more (and often higher calorie) foods – even things like chocolate shakes – with the goal of enticing their skinny babies to eat more and put on the lbs. And I’ve heard about even more cases where moms take that tack on their own.

It makes perfect sense. We love our children and we want them to thrive – and food makes us thrive, right? We want to nourish our babies. We all want strong, healthy, robust babies. But what I’m saying – my opinion on this – is that nourishing our babies is not the same as stuffing them.

I know that in some cases it is medically important to get kids to gain weight, but I’m kind of thinking that more often it’s just … not.

For one thing, there’s the issue of math. If we’re talking percentiles, someone has to fall below the 50th, the 30th even the 10th, so that someone else can hit the 98th. That’s a fact.

And for another, do we really expect our kids to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods with gusto when we think we need to plump them up and then automatically change their ways when it’s time to stop gaining weight?

I think too often we set them up for weight battles later on in life.

Beans was consistently above the 90th percentile for weight as a baby/toddler. I remember a couple of check-ups where we learned he was in the 98th or 99th. I don’t feed Tallulah any differently than I did him. They both get/got healthy choices at breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks throughout the day. Both got plenty of nutritional food, but they’re just different kids with different activity levels and different metabolisms.

I really believe that kids have their own internal signals that tell them how much and when they need to eat and I am committed to quieting my own instincts to feed them and letting them tell me what they need to eat.

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3 Responses to Maybe it's our fault

  1. abailey says:

    You’re right not to worry. Amos was always on the skinny side and he’s crazy active and healthy (despite the current gash on the head). Think about it: the scales are based on McDonald’s-fed, gigantic American babies. It’s just like clothing sizes. A size 6 today was a size 12 in 1950. So your baby is perfect, probably the exact same size you were at her age, and you were probably completely average for that time.

  2. kdishongh says:

    Wow – I hadn’t even thought about that aspect of it, That’s a great point!

  3. lpuckett says:

    Corey was a fat baby and was always off the charts for height and weight, but when he started crawling the weight came off almost immediately. Then there became a large span between his height and weight percentages, so the doctor instructed me to put him on a high fat diet which included things like whole milk, full fat ice cream, cheese, etc. I thought that sounded ridiculous and decided to continue with the healthy habits we had worked so hard to establish (especially since he takes after his dad in every way and he is 6’2 and weighs 170 lbs). He is 6 now and is a perfectly normal size. Doctors are intelligent but I do believe they forget to use common sense every once in a while. I think you are totally correct to follow your instincts as a mom. Good job!

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