In infants, “overweight” represents a physiological predisposition, not a nutritional disorder. If your baby is chunky, the first thing to do is to ask your mom how big you were as a baby; you’ll probably find that your baby looks just like you used to.
Keep in mind that, concerning XL babies, it’s virtually impossible to overfeed an infant for the simple reason that if you do, the food comes right back up at you. Feed your Large baby on demand, just as if she were a Small or a Medium. As with all kids, beware of offering food as a pacifier, and do not provide a diet that leans too heavily on carbohydrates, because these habits could predispose her to heaviness later in life.
Here are a few other considerations about big babies:
- First of all, contrary to what you may hear, if Lucy is oversized, she doesn’t need to eat solid foods any earlier than her peers do.
- When you do start introducing solid food (around six months), don’t restrict her intake, even if she has a good appetite.
- Larger babies tend to be slightly less coordinated and will sit up later. They usually lose their chub when they start running around.
As for the comments, you’ll be proud of all the “oohs” and “aahhs” Lucy generates at first, but you’ll soon grow tired of hearing people say “How old is she? She’s huge!”
Toddlers can also come in size XL, but as soon as their mobility increases, virtually all of them become leaner (despite that characteristic prominent belly). Whatever Jimmy’s size and food inclinations, limit the sugars and fats he eats, like sugared cereals, juices, sodas, raisins, candies, cookies, pasta, pizzas, fast foods, chips, crackers, bread, ice cream, etc.
The best way to prevent your child from becoming overweight is to set good eating habits and limit the availability of fattening foods at home. That way, the struggle to limit access is much reduced, though you can still bend the rules on occasion, like at birthday parties and when you eat out. When Jimmy is asserting his independence (around fifteen to eighteen months of age), resist the temptation to alleviate his frustrations with food or to offer things that taste better to him, so he does not become a picky eater [See: Picky Eating].
Some children are genetically predisposed to becoming overweight. But if yours is skinny now, don’t be smug. A five-year-old kid who eats a fattening diet could be skin and bones, while another on the same regimen will be overweight. But that difference may not last into their teenage years; even the super-skinny child runs a good chance of becoming overweight if he sticks with the fattening foods.
In the vast majority of cases, children become overweight not because of hormonal issues but because of entrenched nutritional and psychological habits that take root at a very young age. One primary reason is the early introduction
of sugar to the diet, as described above.
If Jimmy is overweight, the most helpful approach is nutritional counseling that provides a detailed diet, coupled with bimonthly weighings. The goal is to limit access to fattening foods, especially sodas, fast food, pizza, chips, and cookies. If you don’t keep them at home, there won’t be any temptation. Substitute low-fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, skim-milk cheese, meat, fish, or tofu. Encouraging exercise and limiting TV or video games will also help; think of an hour of TV as an hour of gaining weight.
Of course, much of this is easier said than done. Making fattening foods unavailable is just half the solution. The other half is dealing with a child who is very unhappy and doesn’t understand why he can’t eat the things he’s always eaten. Handling his moods will require determination, a willingness to set limits, and patience [See: Discipline and Boundaries].