Do Fat Babies Make Fat Adults?

Most babies are a bit chubby. But if your little one's weight is increasing faster than her height, should you be concerned?

Many parents wonder and worry about their baby's size and whether it is any indication of how their child will look as an adult. Will a long, skinny baby be tall for her age? And will a chubby baby be obese later in life?

In most cases, there's no correlation between the size of an infant under age 2 and the size she'll be as an adult-with one exception. Extremely overweight babies-who are more than 20 percent above the median for their height and skeletal structure-have a significant chance of eventually becoming obese adults.

If your baby is simply chubby, don't be concerned-all babies have more body fat than older children. But if his weight seems to be climbing at a faster rate than his height, speak to your pediatrician. If he agrees that your baby's weight is excessive, discuss actions you might take. For instance, perhaps you're overfeeding the baby, offering a breast or bottle to reduce crying when boredom or discomfort is really the problem. Or you may be supplementing your baby's breast milk or formula feedings with too much solid food. It might be a good idea to cut back, especially if you started solids prematurely. At this point, your baby doesn't need the calories that solids provide -he's just getting used to the new tastes and textures. As he begins to depend on them, it will be time to reduce the number of bottles or breastfeedings.

No matter how overweight you think your baby is, don't ever consider putting him on a low-fat diet. Restricting calories-by diluting formula, limiting feedings, or giving your baby reduced-fat milk -is a very dangerous practice. Fat plays a vital role in brain development, and without an appropriate amount of fat in their diets, babies can suffer setbacks in learning ability and intelligence.

If, on the other hand, you're worried that your baby is too thin, also speak to your doctor. If she's gaining weight steadily, and the weight gain is keeping pace with her height increase, there's probably no cause for concern. But if her weight curve falls two months in a row, there's a danger that you may be underfeeding her. Your pediatrician can advise you about supplementing her diet with more formula or breast milk or additional solid foods.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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