With growing concern about childhood obesity, are these moms and dads overreacting to the size of their children? Would you put your baby on a diet?
Remember when it was a good thing for your baby to have chubby cheeks and a rosy glow? Well, that time may be over, thanks to growing concerns about having overweight children. More and more parents are putting their babies and toddlers on strict diets. “I don’t want her to have any of the problems that I had: the self-consciousness, health issues,” says Jodi Hasan, who carefully manages her 18-month-old daughter Maya‘s diet because Jodi herself has long struggled with weight issues. “I want her to have good self-esteem.”
Jodi feeds Maya a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and no junk food, which has little Maya in the 25th percentile for weight for her age. But she might be going too far scooping out the center of her daughter’s bagels. During a recent checkup with the pediatrician, Jodie was pleased that Maya hadn’t put on any weight.
“I have seen parents putting their infant and 1-year-old on diets because of history in one parent or another,” says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, who chairs the nutrition committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is chief of neonatology at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
Another doctor, Dr. Blair Hammond of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, went even further, saying, “There’s some parents who are very pleased when their children are thin,” Hammond said. “A lot of fathers, even, they’re like, ‘Yes, my daughter’s thin,’ when the daughter’s like 5 or 6 months old.”
But do you really want a thin child at that age? With eating disorders in children under 12 on the rise, at what point does the obsession with weight become dangerous?
Dr. Bhatia believes, “We need to stop the notion that fat, cuddly, cute babies are a good thing,” but, at the same time, he doesn’t recommend drastic measures. “Breast-fed babies tend to gain weight faster early on and then slow down in the next six months,” he says, before adding that formula-fed babies tend to continue the rapid weight gain as a result of overfeeding or inappropriate feeding by their parents.
While the debate rages on, Dr. Hammond believes that there is something just as important as your child’s eating habits when it comes to how they will develop: your own eating habits, as well.
“You don’t want to project a lot of anxiety and stress about eating to your kids, if that’s possible,” she says. “But, that being said, how many mothers are stressed and dieting all the time? And their kids get that as a role model of how to eat.”
So that might be something to think about, HollyMoms. There’s a lot more to your baby’s eating habits than what they put in their mouth.