Posts Tagged ‘ childhood obesity ’

Project Weight Gain Redux, Mason Meets the Co-Workers, New Discoveries

Friday, March 16th, 2012

My little boy is getting so big. The time is flying by so quickly that it leaves me breathless if I stop to think about it. His 18-month check-up was yesterday afternoon, so I decided to bring him into my office afterward so he could meet my co-workers. Our adventure reminded me that being in a different environment is sometimes the best way to learn new things about your child.

When I arrived at school to pick Mason up he was curled on his cot, just waking up from his nap. He was playing quietly with a shoe and my heart melted when he looked up, saw that I was there for him, jumped up, and ran to me. He didn’t make a peep and I was so proud of him for not waking up any of his classmates who were still sleeping.

Discovery 1: He will follow specific routines, such as lying on a cot completely silent until nap ime is over, to meet expectations.

We schlepped to the doc’s office, and Mason sat in a chair in the waiting room eating his organic graham crackers and watching cartoons until the nurse called us back (left.)

Discovery 2: Without a doubt, he can follow directions. He’ll sit still in a chair for up to 10 minutes–even when other kids are running around right in front of him.

The new pediatrician that we saw was awesome–thorough but laid-back, upbeat and reassuring. (It was the same practice that we normally go to, but our usual pediatrician wasn’t there today.) I think we’re going to switch to her. I left the office feeling happy, not anxious like I normally do. Mason seemed much happier throughout the appointment, too, despite the big shot he got at the end of his appointment.

Discovery 3: Mason’s sensitive to situations and emotions, just like I am. He clearly picked up on my discomfort with the last pediatrician–and my ease with this one.

The only downer was when the nurse told me Mason hadn’t gained an ounce–literally, not one ounce–since our visit in January. I swear I thought the scale was broken. The doctor thinks his lack of weight gain is probably due to the terrible stomach bug that hit him last month. (The vomit-fest struck the afternoon I kept him home from school because he had a bad cough…I spared you guys the gruesome details.) He was so sick we almost had to go to the ER, so she’s guessing he lost weight during that time but had managed to gain it back before his check-up. Of course now we’re back to square one with another weigh-in in a few weeks to confirm that he’s back on track.

Seriously? Seriously?

What are the odds of Mason finally reaching his weight goals only to get hit with  the stomach virus from h-ll just weeks later? The doc said she was very optimistic everything is still fine (“He’s clearly thriving, look at him,” she said). But still.

After the appointment, we went back uptown to my office, and it was clear he immediately felt comfortable there. He walked around like he owned the place. He blew kisses and played Peek-a-Boo, performing for his audience of admirers. Taryn and Erica played ball with him. Tracy, our beauty director, let him play with the colorful bottles and jars on her desk. Jessie followed him snapping pics for Twitter (right).

Discovery 4: In a positive environment kids will warm up quickly, even if they’re in an unfamiliar place surrounded by people they’ve never met before.

Mason had so much fun that he let out a blood-curdling scream when I told him it was time to leave. It was deafening and mortifying–sorry Jessica, Kourtney, Taryn, and Tracy. Luckily I work in a place where everyone loves children. I don’t think anyone will hold a grudge.

On our way out we stopped by Katherine’s office, a friend who works at another magazine owned by the same company as Parents. Mason turned on the charm with her until it was time to go and she needed to put the iPhone he was playing with back in her bag. I forgot to warn her about the iPhone. The sudden loss of his favorite gadget in the world led to a spectacularly dramatic temper tantrum. Screaming, on the ground, in her office. She’s expecting twins in May, and I told her that I was sure little girls didn’t make such scenes. (If you’re a mom of a little girl you can stop laughing now….) But she handled it like a champ, and I think she still likes him. I think.

Discovery 5: Hide every iPhone the minute you walk into a room–never underestimate a happy toddler’s ability to have an immediate breakdown at the worst possible place and time.

After Mason went to bed last night, I texted Chris and told him I was “absolutely overwhelmed with love” for Mason. I think changing up our routine, if only for a day, was a fun way to bond. 

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Project Weight Gain: We Did It!

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Our 6 weeks were up. We had to take Mason to the pediatrician’s office yesterday afternoon for his weigh-in, even though it was the last place any of us wanted to be on our day off. Would we finally be on track with this whole underweight issue, or would we be going straight from the doctor’s office to the lab for testing? I was so nervous I felt sick. I couldn’t bear for anything to be wrong with Bug.

The nurse weighed him, and, we did it! We met our goal of increasing Mason’s weight just enough to get him back on the growth curve, and I’m very proud to say we did it in a healthful way (details below). He gained 1 pound and 13 ounces in 6 weeks; to put that in perspective, Bug gained just l pound between his 12-month and 15-month check-ups. He’s still in the bottom percentile for his weight, but he’s back on an upward growth curve, which was our ultimate goal.

Mason’s pediatrician was thrilled (“This is the kind of appointment I like to have!”), and, best of all, said he “wasn’t worried at all” about any underlying health problems. He explained that he needed to see whether Mason could gain an appropriate amount of weight if we increased his caloric intake. If Bug hadn’t been able to gain weight then it would have been a strong indication that something was wrong. Sound familiar? That’s because Richard Rende,’s resident expert in child health and development studies, totally called it when he re-framed the situation for me a few weeks ago.

I feel so blessed. I’ve tried to put my fears into perspective–after all, skinniness runs in both our families–but the anxiety of Mason’s impeding weigh-in, and the possibility of our doctor discovering that Mason had a serious health problem, got to me last Thursday night and continued to nag me throughout the weekend. By the time our appointment rolled around yesterday, I was both afraid of what I might hear and desperate to get it over with. Now that we know that it was just a matter of giving Mason more calories, I’ll work to keep Mason’s caloric intake up in a healthful way. And by “up,” I mean just enough to keep up with the curve, I’m not trying to turn him into a sumo wrestler or anything like that.

Ironically, I had trouble keeping weight on when I was pregnant, despite the fact that I ate constantly. I’m convinced Mason has hollow legs. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the next one, if I’m lucky enough to have a second child one day.

The back story, in case you missed it:

At Mason’s 15-month check-up, our pediatrician told me that I needed to do “everything in my power” to fatten Mason up. (Mason’s tall–he’s in the 75th percentile for height–but he had completely fallen off charts for his weight.) We were to come in six weeks later and if Mason hadn’t gained enough weight then he was going to be tested for Celiac and the like. I silently freaked out–What if he’s really sick? I also felt bitter about the irony of having to fatten my kid up in a society where childhood obesity is a major problem. After all, as I said, skinniness is in Mason’s genetics..

Then I pulled myself together and got to work.

I put the extra weight on Mason by increasing his starch intake overall, with fruit-filled quick breads and whole-wheat pasta. I also added more healthful fats (a few drops of olive oil to sauces and extra avocado), as our pediatrician had recommended. I still made sure that Bug got a fruit and veggie with every meal, and I still served him lean chicken and beef as well as beans and lentils. And although I believe in occasional splurges, we kept the indulgences in check. He ate the same number of treats that he did before we were tasked with helping him gain weight. For me, it’s not just about weight, it’s about overall health. Diabetes and heart disease runs in Chris’ family and cancer runs in mine, and I believe that diet really does make a difference when it comes to these diseases. I refused to fill him out with sugary, fatty foods just to get him on some growth chart. Fortunately, it all worked out.

I’m sure lots of you have met exciting goals lately. Dish here!

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Feeding a Skinny Kid in a Fat World

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

My beautiful boy making a hasty escape during our family Christmas card portrait. The pacifier was a bribe to get him to sit still–clearly, Bug called our bluff and bolted before the photographer could take our pic. Photograph by

Confession: I’m still upset that my pediatrician wants me to fatten up my kid. Mason is at the top of the charts for his height but it’s apparently a problem that he doesn’t even register for his weight. At Bug’s 15-month check-up the pediatrician told me to do “everything in my power” to help Mason gain weight. I thought I had gotten over the upset I felt at that check-up, but nope. It all resurfaced Monday night when I took Bug in for his vaccines and learned that if he hasn’t put on ample weight in 6 weeks then he’ll need to be tested for Celiac and the like. No, No, No!! There can’t be anything wrong with Bug. I freaked out (silently) and then had to hold a sobbing baby while he got three shots. I waited to cry until that night, after Mason went to bed.

Here’s why I’m freaking out:

1.  The pediatrician called it “weird” that Bug eats well (or as well as any one-year-old) and drinks more than the recommended amount of whole milk but is still so skinny. Weird! WTF?!

2. It bums me out to replace some of the fruit and veggies that I enjoy feeding Mason with less-nutritious starches (although I’m trying to combat this angst by baking healthier starches).

3.  The biggie: In a society where childhood obesity is a major problem, why am I getting so much sh-t for having a skinny, albeit healthy, kid?!

Of course my personal baggage plays a role here, too.

I’ve been concerned about Mason’s string bean status since his eight-month checkup. I’m afraid Mason will be teased in school if he stays so skinny. You see, as a kid, I was teased for being super tall and super skinny. Luckily the ribbing I got was more good-humored than cruel –ie., at one point, a classmate gave me the nickname Chicken Legs in gym class–but to be skinny as a girl is much different than to be skinny as a boy. What if someone is mean to Bug, or makes fun of him?! As it is, I feel so defensive when some mom exclaims, “He looks small for his age!” I try to smile and shrug it off but I always feel like it’s some pointed remark like,  “Why are you starving your kid?”  The worst was when one mom told me that her kid could “eat Mason” because her kid was so much bigger than he is even though they’re only 6 weeks apart. Um, how am I supposed to react to that?

The good news in all this is that Mason has gained 8 ounces in less than two weeks. “Keep on doing what you’ve been doing!” the nurse said. “He climbed up a bit on the charts, so that’s great!” What I’ve been doing is dousing all of his food in olive oil, or at least the food that would taste good with olive oil, per the doctor’s orders. Not such a fan of this technique but at least it appears to be working and at least olive oil is considered a healthy fat. I know, I know…It’s time for me to get a grip and follow doctor’s orders without whining about it.

Fortunately I have plenty of supportive friends and family, including my fellow blogger Richard Rende, our resident expert in child health and development studies. I shared my plight with Richard at one point and he volunteered to see if he could find any studies relating to our sitch. His conclusion, based on what I told him, is that he suspects Mason is genetically predisposed to being skinny since both Chris and I were skinny kids. He also noted that Mason’s doc is probably trying to see if Mason gains an appropriate amount of weight after eating a high-calorie diet for a set period of time. If Mason doesn’t gain enough weight then the doctor will have important information that could help him identify any underlying medical issues more easily. Thanks, Richard, for re-framing the situation in a way that makes it less scary for me.  (Seriously, if you haven’t read Richard’s blog, check it out; I learn something new every time I read it.)

Have any of you been told that your baby or toddler needs to gain weight? If so, what did you do (or are you doing) to meet your doctor’s goals?

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Should Moms Only Feed Their Kids Healthy Foods?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

My post last week about Mac ‘n’ cheese sparked a debate about how moms should feed their children. Childhood obesity came up more than once. This afternoon fellow blogger Richard Rende reminded me of that debate with his post on whether severely obese children should be separated from their parents. Once again, the question that’s been running through my mind since last Tuesday surfaced: Should moms only feed their kids healthful foods?

Mason’s at the age (11-months-old tomorrow!) where I control everything he eats. His diet consists of healthy grains, veggies, fruits, and lean protein but I do allow him splurges here and there. Mason’s not obese (he’s at the 3% mark for weight on the charts currently), but does that even matter? If he were obese then would occasional splurges still be OK?  Or should we put the kibosh on junk food in favor of all healthy food for our kids, all the time? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Photo from Clip Art Pal

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