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Chubby Babies No Longer Considered Healthy Babies

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I apologize in advance if this blog sounds like a vent, because it's a touchy subject for me. I have two children. When my daughter was born, she was small and stayed in the lower percentile for weight and height during her first year. As a new mom, it stressed me out, mostly because of comments from other people about how she wasn't growing fast enough. When my son was born, his weight shot up rapidly. At 5 months, he weighed 20 pounds, and I would definitely say he was a chubby baby. Both of my kids were breast-fed and the pediatrician said there was no cause for concern. Kids grow at different rates, and mine were both happy and healthy which is what mattered most. My 4 and 2-year old children are now average when it comes to weight and height.

When you have kids, it seems like everyone wants to put in their 2-cents about how to raise them. Usually you'll encounter those people who feel the need to give their opinion about your infant's weight. Either he's too small or too big. Either she's eating too much or she's not eating enough. I am all for eating healthy and teaching kids to make good food choices. I think you want to set kids up for developing good habits as early as possible. But I also believe that early on, babies grow at their own speed. In most cases, as long as the pediatrician isn't concerned that there is a problem, parents shouldn't have to get so stressed out about their infant's rate of weight gain. That's why I was so disturbed to read a recent article about parents putting their infants on diets.

Doctors are seeing parents (who struggle with obesity themselves) restricting their infants food intake so that the child doesn't face the same weight struggles that they have experienced. Although a few of the stories are extreme (putting extra water in a baby's formula to slow down their weight gain), doctors say some parents are happy when they hear their child's weight is at the lower end of average for their age. Gone are the days when chubby baby is considered normal. The pressure to be thin seems to be starting from Day 1.

Instead of putting infants on a diet, doctors recommend breastfeeding. Breastfed babies tend to gain weight rapidly in the first six months, and then slow down. Formula-fed babies are more likely to continue the rapid weight gain. Doctors also say that the best thing parents can do is be good role models for healthy eating as their children get older and learn to make their own food choices.

What do you think?

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PATRICIAAK 10/9/2020
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PATRICIAAK 6/11/2020
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my son was born 5 weeks early, he struggle with eating his first 2 days (breast and mostly pumping) and his issues had him in NICU for 11 days where I tried to pump as often as possible and they mixed it with formula (they have baby feeding techs who specialize in mixing breast milk with formula, etc). He's been exclusively formula since about 2 days before he was out of NICU. Breastfeeding isn't always the best option. Please don't start that breast is best war, it's CRAP. FED IS BEST!
I tried to give him breastmilk by pumping and the hormonal mental health issues I was having due to estrogen dominance weren't healthy. So I got him on formula and he's doing great. For a 35w1d born preemie, he's now 6 months and change old and weighs 18.5 pounds. Report
PATRICIA-CR 4/11/2020
Breastfed babies get chubby too. Report
PATRICIAAK 1/28/2020
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PATRICIAAK 12/21/2019
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PATRICIAAK 11/7/2019
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PATRICIAAK 10/23/2019
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Great Article. My son is 1 and is on the higher end of the weight average but he is also on the higher end of the height average for his age. Report
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I breast fed all of mine and they were healthy babies. Report
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To pay for college, I used to work in summer camps/child care. Some times we had to escort someone to the physician. The pediatricians back then, 30-40 years ago now, were of the mindset that the total # of fat cells the human body has is determined by available food supply early childhood (first years of life) so keeping healthy weight impacts the burden an adult does or doesn't have later in life. Too skinny (failure to thrive) more fat cells; average or plump less fat cells formed. Report
Very interesting. Love the comments of some members. Report
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I could "duplicate" a lot of what @CSROBERTSON621 wrote...and now my sons are "all grown up"!
Son #1 who almost always was "big" for his age/height, etc. continues that to this day (age 25). IMO he's about 80#'s overweight. -- Son #2 who could/can eat as much as he wants of everything, has a very high metabolic rate & burns everything he eats. (He has to force himself to maintain enough caloric input in order not to lose weight.) And yes, he is a "beanpole". -- Both boys were exclusively breastfed for the 1st year of life.
Same parents. Same gene pool. Different kids. Different outcomes. -- However, I've seen toddlers who had to have "something wrong" with either food intake or body-processing!? IMO a healthy 2 yr old should never be the weight & size of an overweight 5 yr old! Report
My older son was "big" in all ways as a baby - 99% height, 99% weight, and also a relatively large frame, and except for the first couple of months before we got some relief for his reflux issues, he never had any problems eating (but also ate consistent, appropriate amounts, if toward the upper end of "normal"). Our pediatrician didn't give us any grief at all about it, especially because other than having a (very) round face until he was about 2, he didn't actually have rolls or any real "chubbiness" about him -- though I asked if we should be concerned (she said no). He is still (at 3.5) tall and heavy (45 pounds!) - but his face has leaned out, and other than still having a large frame, people actually see him as a thin kid, and though he needs 5T pants for length, he needs the slim cut jeans, and still needs a belt or drawstring to keep his pants up because he has a narrow waist/flat tummy. My guess is that he was always destined to be big, and his body knew that -- and it needed to eat to grow!

Son #2 is the total opposite (except still on the taller side): 80% height, 14% weight, and 2% (not a typo) for BMI with a small "beanpole" frame. Always hated to eat anything as a baby, and would only do a little at a time (although he got breast milk I had to exclusively pump so it was easy to see how little he was eating) - we had to do weight checks at the pediatrician for a long time to make sure he was OK. Pediatrician eventually concluded he was just a small kid with a small appetite -- but because he was VERY strong and met all his physical milestones very early (e.g., rolling easily both ways by 3 months, sitting by 4 months, walking well at 9 months). Despite being so strong and extremely active, he still drank very little milk/formula (supplemented) and refused most solids until after age 1, and though he's recently done better at eating recently (and thus looks a little less "skinny"), he's still tiny compared to my first son - he is still in 12 month clothes at almost 14 months - my older son outgrew "12 months" by the time he was 6 months old, and was wearing "18 months" size by his first Christmas (10 months old).

Point is, same parents, same feeding style/foods offered, very different kid. No idea how either will end up weight-wise in the long run, but older son appears just to a big guy, but without a weight/eating problem. I hope that continues -- but however it goes, I doubt it will have had much to do with how we fed him as a baby. I think what we do with him now - as he starts learning to make more choices for himself - is much more important. Report
As a Lactatation Consultant, I agree with LibbyFitz's comment on 4/3/2012! She said it all for me! Report
Somehow they all get raised, just like we did, and our parents and grandparents. Report
I breastfed my daughter till she was 1 year old... full time, on demand. She never got chubby! I was constantly worried that she is not eating enough or getting all nutrition. But her doctor did reassure me that she is perfect for her birth weight and age. Some children put more weight than others, naturally and I believe people should not make moms feel like they are at fault. Now my little one eats lots, has a healthy appetite and is an active toddler that is able to eat lots but doesn't put weight on. Report
I have breastfed all four of my children exclusively for their first year and they all ate so differently. My first child was a "gourmet feeder" eating 30 minutes on a side every two hours and plumped up really quick. My second child was a "snacker" eating only five minutes on a side every two to three hours and she always stayed petite. My third one was "normal" eating about 10 minutes to a side, and stayed average. My fourth one has been a snacker like the second one and is about her same size at 1 year. I have always heard that you cannot overfeed a breastfed baby. Maybe the idea of bottles and formula has really hurt our society because people think they should control how much the baby gets to both extremes. With breastmilk you just let them eat until they stop and then wait until they are hungry again. There is no thought about how many calories they are getting. And BTW all my children evened out once they started running around and eating solid foods. They were all average and beautiful and perfect. Report
Both my children were chubby babies, exclusivley breastfed till 6-7 months, then straight onto finger food. They refused baby cereal. Both had breastmilk twice a day till they were 2 and a half years old. Once they became toddlers there extra weight dropped off.Chubby babies does NOT automatically mean overweight adults. In extreme cases of severe over weight babies where they cannot develop normally because they are unable to move is a different scenario alltogether and needs further medical investigation. Now that I am a Lactation Consultant and see how mothers struggle to breastfeed their babies and once the decision is made to do either mixed feeding or fully formula feed I am there to support them. There is no room for guilt. There is enough pressure on parents as it is, and most parents want to do what is right for them and their children.As long as we allow the baby/child to determine how much they eat obesity should not be an issue . It is when we have fast food outlets and family restaurants having "all you can eat" offers that we teach children to over eat. Report
As a teen, Two of my sisters had little boys withen a year of each other. I wound up raising one and often visited my other sister. People often comented on how how big my Little Ricky was and how thin the other one was. I woried i was feeding him too much but noticed that both boys ate the same ampunt. The difference was that the other Ricky was verry tall and my Ricky just didn't grow. He started school in a size two T clothing. Now both Rickies are tean and both are verry thin and healthy. I do agree that breast is best but some situations make it imposible to breast feed. If you are feeding your child healthy amounts of food and keep them on a healthy diet, I see no reason to worry about their weight. The only we had junk food was when I was out running errands.

I have now seen that they now have snack food for babies. The first thing I thought was are you seriouse. Teach your kids to eat snacks and not real food. GOOD GRIEF. When going out I alwayse brought toys and snacks for Ricky when i went out. My snacks were cherios, or venilla wafers, and sometimes animal crackers. I think the isue is not breast or bottle but a healthy diet with plenty of excersize. Report
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I knew someone who restricted their baby's food -- and this was 20 years ago. Her child was slender, but always seemed hungry. My baby was never hungry. She was breastfed on demand and -- yes -- she was a chunky monkey! She looked like a little cherub from one of those Renaissance paintings. Just rolls of fat. I was constantly warned she would have weight problems all her life, which concerned me since I have struggled with weight. But she is 24 now and hasn't struggled with weight one day of her life. Her weight has always been in proportion to her height. Our nation's obsession with stick-thin is sick. Report
Another neat benefit of breast-feeding is that it exposes babies to a wide variety of foods and flavors--whatever mom's getting, baby gets a taste, and thereby reduces incidence of food allergies and insures a diverse palate down the road. Report
Wow! I'm glad I was happy with my rolly polly babies. They were big and chubby and beautiful. My daughter is now an active string-bean eight year old and my son is a sturdy five year old Kindergartener. Good, healthy food on the table and plenty of free time has allowed them to run around and move to their heart's content. I never had to work at being slim as a child and neither do my children. Report
I think you shouldn't worry about the size of the baby unless your pediatrician has concerns. Most of the time if they are on the chubby side they lose it when they start walking. Report
I agree as long as the baby is healthy it shouldn't matter how much they weigh. I remember when my daughter was a baby, the doctor was concerned about her weight. She was at the top of the chart for height and at the bottom for her weigh. As the doctor got to know me , she realize i was doing everything within my power to try to get her to gain weight. Both my children have always been slim for their age. I was the same way as a child. I have even had people say that i wasn't feeding them enough and acting as if i was starving my children. Once they got to know me and the children better they realized that i fed them 3 meals a day along with healthy snacks throughout the day.
We were fortunate to have a doctor that wasn't concerned about what the scale said. My son was a chubby baby. Both of my children were in the 90th percentile in their height and weight. Both of my children have been tall for their age, as a result they also weigh more than other kids their age. It has never been a concern for their doctor, even moving and switching doctors there wasn't a worry. I remember an instance when my daughter first started Kindergarten. They were offering a healthy eating packet. We went to see what it was about, the health department proceeded to weigh the kids there and then let you know if their weight was acceptable or not. We were told our daughter needed to lose 5 pounds! I asked them, "From where? she's thin as it is?" they said that where she was on the chart reflected she should be 5 pounds lighter. I couldn't believe it. I thought how sad it was that here the kids are going to have all the peer pressure to deal with growing up during adolescence and trying to fit in and here they are just starting in school being told they need to lose weight!

We have tried to instill in our children that what the scale says is just a number, that the important thing is to be healthy. Exercising and eating healthy. I've never been one to make my children eat everything on their plates. However, they do have to eat their veggies :) I think it's important to teach them how to eat and be healthy. Report
It's just fine with me if you chose not to breastfeed. I will not go into how very many mothers I believe could have done it if they'd been supported the right way-that doesn't mean they didn't try or didn't do it right, but that our society is for some reason so horribly opposed to breastfeeding that the whole thing is a stressful process that even I, with my idealistic lactavist ways, was hugely overwhelmed by it and nearly gave up countless times.

That said, it makes me so damn sad to read about anyone downtalking breastfeeding. I'm not saying a word to make formula feeding moms feel bad, but don't you dare-after ever minute I struggled-insult what was a very hard-won success for me and many, many other women. It was worthwhile and there is no single reason for me to ever need to explain that to anyone. Breast is best. This is not new information. Report
I have a 19-yo daughter who was 8 lbs at birth and whom I did not breast-feed. She was a healthy baby and toddler and as she grew she was quite active and was a healthy weight. Once she hit adolescence, she put on weight too much, and still struggles with it (she has inherited my build - wide hips and thighs, short legs, no ankles). I also have twin stepkids (boy and a girl) who are 14 now and are both slim (boy is tall; girl is very short) - they take after their birth mother. Their older sister tends to run on the chubby side (she is almost 16) and works hard to keep her weight at a normal level. She takes after her father. We (my DH and I) learned the hard way that we had to Walk the Walk, and not live the motto "Do as I say, not as I do," when it came to eating healthy and teaching our kids to eat healthy. We made a lot of mistakes when they were in elementary school, but the past 3 years we've turned things around and really tried to emulate better habits. I think it's shameful that parents would consider restricting their children's diets for the sake of weight loss or weight control. I think kids know when they are hungry and when they aren't, and woe is the day when they learn that they can eat even when they aren't hungry. If I could turn back time, it would be my first wish to change my behavior to model better eating habits. I really think that is what influences kids to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Report
I overheard one mother talking about her "fat" toddler, a girl. This mother (as well as her sister) are both extremely thin - to the point of looking ill. I don't think it's just obese parents wanting their children to be at the lower end of the weight range, to be honest.

My fiance and I were both "fat kids", so we worry about if/when we have children about how their genes will play out as far as weight. We both agree that we don't want to give our potential kids any complexes, so we're going to try to make healthy eating a lifestyle and encourage them to be physically active. Report
I was a worry wart mom. My twins are adopted and when one of my girls had only gained 1 pound at month I was concerned. She had colic and reflux horrible., by the time she was a year old she had only gained 12 pounds no one but me seemed concerned. her sister was 50 percentile wt and 75 for ht while she remained 95percentile for ht and 5% wt. today at 5 they are both 95 % ht and 40% wt... we do nothing special at my house but since they were little we had them try different things one daughter will eat a bowl of collards and beets for dinner and her sister will eat cheese and grapes. we always talk about healthy choices and if they made a not so healthy choice 1-2 times that day and want a snack they have to pick a healthy snack - I guess we try to balance the junk with healthy so they learn its ok to eat both just make wise choices... oh one likes soda the other does not soda is special since she is the only one who drinks soda she can have 1 a day when we visit our summer place. I never made a big deal about junk so they dont make a big deal about eating it. I have small bags of chips available if they want and since its there the same box has been there for over 3 mos. my girls have been involved in some type of physical activity since they were 2- gymnastics, dance, taeknowdo swimming so none of the physical part is new to them they even see mommy getting her exercise- I dont make a big deal about what they eat since I watch the balance and see them make good choices. I also do not practice clean your plate... if they tell me they are full then I leave it at that. _ I was raised to clean the plate- I try very hard not to stick the same type of words, practices ets placed on me as a child who has become an adult with weight struggles. Report
I couldn't breastfeed my children for medical reasons. Both my girls are healthy weight and height and have always been. They're toddlers now so I do find it difficult to get them to eat veggies, but I have no issues with fruit. My husband does get creative with the veggies, he's a chef. I tend to find that my older daughter who is two and half likes her veggies raw, my younger daughter who's only 14 months old and doesn't have all her teeth yet, prefers cooked veggies. I can understand withholding junk food from growing babies, such as cookies, soda and candy, that's one thing. But to actually withhold milk or formula from an infant is disgusting for a parent to do, not to mention have developmental or deadly consequences. Report
I couldn't breastfeed my boysfor medical reasons. They were formula after about 2 weeks of being on the breast and they're fine. This is just one more thing to shame women into feeling guilty about formula feedings. It makes me so angry to read stuff like this! My oldest son's doctor had me put rice cereal into him soy formula b/c he needed to gain weight and my youngest ate so much that my milk literally could not produce fast enough! The best thing about babies diets are they stop when full. We forget how to do that as we get older and it is a parent's job to reinforce that idea. So let's lay blame where it belongs: PARENTS! I cannot believe deprivation is actually suggested! Ugh! Just lead by example, don't feed your kids out of a bag, and make wise choices at the grocery store. And if your baby is "chubby" enjoy the cuteness! Mine was but has shot up like an oak tree and eats every fruit and veggie in sight!! Report
My son was breast feed. He was a fat baby, a skinny child and now he is a lean, muscular adult. Report
SO VERY well said! Kudos for bringing a touchy subject to the forefront. Report
I breast fed both of my children for a long time. My First child was on the "chubby side" and my second child was very under weight even though they had similar eating patterns.
Now at 6 and 3 my first child is of normal weight eats healthy and is active. My second child is still on the smaller side but certainly healthy. My children are not the same people... Everyone comes in different shapes sizes and heights! whats the right height and weight for an 2 adults is different... same for Baby's and children.
I think we are just getting to obsessed with Image. If you are feeding your child the right formula and the right amount for age, or you are breast feeding... then later giving your children the right choices in food and an active life style, then being a little chubby when they are baby's is nothing more than cute!! Report
I have been a big girl my entire life. my son was unable to be breast fed for the simple reasons that.. excuse my honesty... my nipples are too flat. So he couldn't get what he needed, and i tried everything, and suffered Mastitis too much that eventually i gave up.

That was 7 years ago. My son is a healthy weight, and very strong and not fat at all. I gave him Formula instead of breast milk, and then of course i had the jars and tins of baby food. I certainly didn't have to water down alot of his food, as he grazed - ate all through the day, small portions, - instead of big meals.

I think if doctors want to keep babies skinny perhaps look at why they gain the weight to begin with. If its more natural for them to be overweight, find out why, instead of looking at it as a heart problem or general obese baby thing - that might look unsightly to magazines and the like.. but maybe they need it for later developement.

All in all i agree - yes keep an eye on what your child eats, but you don't have to make your baby a thin little thing because thin is the new IN. thats ridiculous and horrible!! Report
It is very important to model good behavior for our kids, and I have done that. I get upset when I hear comments about a healthy child who is active, and growing. Most kids go through some chubby times, not just as babies, but as they mature. My youngest, now 19, was a big baby, then slimmed down as soon as he began moving.
During his teen years, he went through a chubby faze when he grew out before growing up. He is now very lean and fit.
I'm so sick of our government trying to legislate what our kids eat and feel they need to be concerned about other things. Yes, give them the education, but please don't make a kid feel bad because he brings pop tarts for lunch. I'll never forget the first grader at my kids' school who packed his lunch because mom was already at work, and dad was too drunk. This kid did the best he could.
Also, though I do believe breast is best, just as natural childbirth, I also know that things don't always work out. If I hadn't had a Caesariean with the youngest, for example, neither of us would be alive today.
In short, information and example are very important. Beyond that, encourage, but do not ever harm a child by depriving a baby or toddler of needed nutrients, or a teen ager by ridiculing about body size of type. Report
I'm glad that I read this blog because the subject is one that worries me. Not that I am a parent--not yet anyway--and I am wary of telling parents what they should or should not do *especially* since I have never been in their shoes. But everything I have read about this worries me.

Yes, we need to teach children not only healthy eating habits but also help them create a healthy relationship with food as well. But it worries me when I see this trend to restrict the food of younger and younger children in order to prevent them from becoming overweight. It scares me because children aren't adults; their bodies are still growing and developing and they don't always grow the same way, at the same time. As long as the doctor isn't concerned, it's not a problem. Report
Well it looks like it's a worldwide phenomenon. 2 cents over here too ... my son was scrawny and unhealthy and since then has developed unhealthy eating habits. My daughter was plump and breastfed full time and I LOVE her thighs and she's getting skinnier now as she grows taller. And my newest addition ... we'll wait to see but for now, he's VERY round and I could just eat him alive! Report
This DOES strike a nerve. I just gave birth to my first child and he's definitely a small infant. One of the nurse practitioners already gave me a complex about breastfeeding him enough (fortunately, everyone else at the pediatrician's office has told me that he's perfect and healthy and getting plenty of nutrition), so I understand being freaked out and confused about what's enough and what's too much. HOWEVER, the thought of people -- parents -- trying to keep their babies "thin" is repulsive and horrifying. For most, a well-balanced diet and doing active things with children is all you need to ensure they grow up healthy and with a sane approach to food. Report
Ironically my children are now the opposite of their baby weight. the chubby baby is now 20 and very slim but Dr. says he is not under weight. And my small baby who did not grow much in the first year he was not even on the chart and finally made it to the 10 percentile is now 19 and sadly overweight. he is active and whenever he plays organized sports he gets in shape but he has a tendacy to pack on the pounds faily quicklu. Report
When I first read the title of this article, instantly I felt a rush of anger. Chubby baby, skinny baby, medium size baby should not matter if they are breastfed because nine times out of 10, the babies nurse when they want to and how much they want to. As I read on, I understood the article better and realized Coach Jen was thinking the same thing. I nursed my 3 children (now 13, 16, 18) exclusively for 6 months, at which time I only added mashed fruits and veggies to their diet. The "cereal" thing bothered me because I didn't feel that it was necessary. Most of the mothers I knew started giving their babies cereal so that they would sleep through the night. Other than my middle child who must have had colic or something for the first 4 months, they were sleeping 4-5 hours a night and waking for a nursing and then going right back to sleep. My body started to get used to it, and I very rarely complained about lack of sleep. My Mom and everyone I knew thought I was crazy for not giving them cereal. They are healthy and happy teenagers now with no weight issues, so I guess I wasn't too crazy! Report
My two sons were never overweight, or underweight either, until they started playing sports. One son is long and lean like his mothers side of the family. Our other son is built like a fire hydrant and nearly as strong. BMI always show as obese. The water test says he only carries 14% fat.

None of my three grandchildren were chubby as children. From the time they first learned to roll over they were active. Two were breast fed, one was not. My oldest granddaughter has about 12% body fat and looks skinny, but all of her 98 pounds is muscle. Her pediatrician says she's in excellent health and that it's her participation in Softball and Basketball that keeps her metabolism up.
Anytime we are with her for a meal, she out eats Grandpa!

It's not chubby or skinny - it's "Is the child healthy?"

Just this Grandfather's opinion.

Anyone who has a long nose about your child's height or weight should be answered, "Oh, I didn't know you were a doctor?" Even, or sometimes especially, grandparents and other family members. Report
its a story about my life!! My MIL keeps saying that my daughter (1 year and 9 months old) is fat (!!) She has a tummy but hey i am overweight and exactly her father is too but he doesnt care he is happy with him self.
My daughter was not breastfeed as she was born to early and i didnt had any milk. I give her healthy foods and am giving her a healthy example. Almost walk daily with her outside, not to much tv. Variety of activities etc... but im big boned and she has a lot from me... Yes i am concerned about her weight for the future but hell no that i will put her on a diet... Report
I see that is has become the issue of breastfeeding over formula feeding when it is actually about feeding children in general. I get soooo sick of the 'ultra breast is best your a bad mom if you feed your child anything else' however the topic is about putting young children on diets. Yes Diets! Not everyone is able to breast-feed. I dont think there is one stinking difference in weight of a child if they are formula fed over breast fed. In the end they all end up about the same. Most of it has to do with genetics and what you allow your child to eat after the first year of life.

I could only breast-feed (and I nearly killed myself doing it) for 4 months with both my kids. The first b/c I gave birth to 3 month 10 day premie twins and I just wasnt producing enough milk. The second time my child was term but i just didnt have enough milk. After switching to formula niether one of them gained mass amounts of weight. But they are HEALTHY which is the most important thing.

Both are still very small but it is b/c I come from a small boned family and they are very active kids. We dont let them veg out in front of the tv or video games all day. I was on the small side too as a child. I went thru a heavy phase for a few years in middle school but by high school was back to my tiny self. I continued to be small until I had my daughter. Now I struggle with weight.

I think we need to be more concerened with the foods and activities of our young children than just weight. If we focus on just weight instead of health too we are just teaching our kids that the # on the scale is the only thing that matters about our bodies.