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Babies on Diets?!

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: I was recently in a baby group wherein one of the mothers said that she had put her son on a diet. Her son was 7 months old at the time, and everyone's jaw dropped. The kid was husky, but by no means obese. His mom said he was "too hungry all of the time," though, so she was putting plain water in his bottles instead of breast milk. She didn't want a "fat kid," as she put it.

As shocking as it sounded to me at the time, I've since learned that putting babies on diets is fairly common. People get caught up in a baby's growth percentile and are disappointed when they have bigger babies. While most of us love the idea of a chubby baby with rippled little thighs and a Buddha belly, a high percentage of mothers apparently become alarmed by their babies' size and try to keep the kids' caloric intake down to slow down their growth -- a diet for babies! 

Anyway, this mom was repulsed by the idea of having a fat baby. She was extremely thin herself; she later confessed that she had even been afraid to get pregnant because she didn't want to get fat. Obviously, she was projecting her body issues onto her son. She was afraid of what was happening to him. And her course of action -- replacing food with water -- was very unhealthy. 

In fact, babies are the healthiest of all eaters. They don't have late-night cravings or eat because they are sad or mad. They eat when they are hungry, and it is instinctual. While some babies do nurse a breast or bottle for comfort, they certainly don't do it enough to cause obesity. So a diet wasn't the answer for this poor little guy.

After this mom's friends intervened, she wisely decided to see a therapist rather than continue her baby's diet.

next: Should 4-Year-Olds Be Allowed to Attend Kindergarten?
39 comments so far | Post a comment now
SS October 4, 2010, 9:51 AM

This is incredibly sad. The only reason I could see putting a baby on a diet would be if you were feeding your baby junk food. If you’re feeding him baby food, formula and breast milk I think you should let him eat when he’s hungry and stop when he’s full. I’m glad this woman is getting therapy.

KS October 4, 2010, 10:28 AM

Pardon me but that’s abuse. There is no excuse to withhold food from your baby, infant or child when they are eating normally because YOU have an eating disorder.

Babies go through growth spurts where they eat more than normal to reserve fat and other nutrients in order to grow properly. If you don’t give your child enough nutrition they aren’t going to develop properly and the first place your body diverts nutrients from is the brain.

The brain takes an incredible amount of glucose to function. When it is going through phase of rapid growth it also needs an inordinate amount of nutrients. Which translates into the baby eating more.

This mother is setting her child up for developmental delays and eating disorders. That my friend is abuse plain and simple. She may dress nice and attend play dates but she has no business treating her child like that.

Tony October 5, 2010, 3:29 AM

That mother who put her baby on a diet is clearly unfit to be a mother and care for a baby. She should have the baby removed from her care and be adopted out, Then she should get spaded so she can’t have any more mistakes.
Shes just a stupir bimbo with no common sense.

brenda October 5, 2010, 3:51 AM

Every breast fed baby that I know of is fat. I think it’s adorable. Both of my babies and my grandson were skinny babies because they drank formula. How could you possibly even think about putting a baby on a diet? That is just absolutely horrible.

really October 5, 2010, 5:52 AM

Well fat is not good, but NEVER put a baby on a diet. And don’t feed them water, you can give them water intoxication. Breast fed babies are rarely fat. Formula can cause excess weight gain, but at that age and really up to 7 or 8, their bodies need fat and protein at rates far beyond adults. Yes, she sure did have issues and I am glad this mom saw the ight.

Kathy October 5, 2010, 6:34 AM

That is just sad and heading towards problems in the future.

However, I can almost believe a dr telling a mom to put her baby on a diet if he/she falls above average. I have a chunky 12 year old and because she is above average we are being told she MUST loose weight and they are wanting us to take her to a child weight clinic. Now upon reading the information sent I have decided it is out of the question. All the specialist she would have to see the hours she would have to spend at this place and more just don’t sit right with me. They would be completely running her life and not allowing her to just be a 12 year old and I won’t have it. I will work with her at home on getting into better shape and loosing weight, or at least maintaining her weight. While I am concerned and want her to be healthy, I am not overly concerned. There are many girls her age and younger who are much larger than she is. I’m tired of the every kid must fall into the average range or something is wrong with them state of mind drs have. God didn’t create us all to be the same.

Vicki October 5, 2010, 7:51 AM

I think this is borderline abuse. No, wait, it is abuse. There were at least 2 babies in my state last year, who died of water poisoning. Too much water. In both of these cases, the mothers were too poor (something that should not happen in this country) to buy formula, so they watered it down so much that the babies were “over watered” They had little or no choice. This mother is just a bonehead!

Jan October 5, 2010, 7:59 AM

My brother and SIL are a little bit that way with my almost 2 yr old neice. They are always saying that they don’t want her to get fat….she’s only 21 lbs now. When we were up there this summer, my brother got me upset by calling my 13 yr old fat. My daughter is very curvy, but by no means fat. She dances 3 times a week and is very strong.

quesadilla October 5, 2010, 8:54 AM

The woman who was feeding her baby water rather than breast milk much of the time has already done her child a great deal of harm. Babies need fat for their brains to grow and develop healthily (nervous tissue is mostly fat).
That mother should have her child(ren) taken away, and she should probably be forced by other mothers to have an “emergency” tubal ligation. Her child may as well have been a crack baby for all the good she was doing him or her.

Dani October 5, 2010, 9:11 AM

I am a bit shock of the harshness of the other readers. Yes, it is wrong to and abuse to knowingly underfeed your child as it should be if you overfeed. This mother was not doing it out of malice but out of her own issue and with intervention stopped what she was doing and went to get help for herself. I just wonder what the issues are of everyone else.

Jen October 5, 2010, 10:49 AM

I have a friend who did just the opposite! They were obsessed with their baby’s pooping schedule and heard someplace that a little bit of dark corn syrup mixed with the formula will cause the baby to poo so they did it with every bottle. That baby was so fat she looked like she would pop!

I have heard of people putting water in the bottle to hold off on a feeding…puzzling.

Chelsey October 5, 2010, 10:55 AM

Wow!!! I’m glad she realized she needed therapy because that is just not right.I’ve never heard of baby diets but i’ve heard little kids mainly girls at birthday parties refusing extra cookies or cake because they’re mothers have drilled into they’re heads not to get’s rediculous .people need to loosen up

Chelsey October 5, 2010, 10:56 AM

Wow!!! I’m glad she realized she needed therapy because that is just not right.I’ve never heard of baby diets but i’ve heard little kids mainly girls at birthday parties refusing extra cookies or cake because they’re mothers have drilled into they’re heads not to get’s rediculous .people need to loosen up

Emily October 5, 2010, 11:09 AM

I just find this sick. My daughter has ALWAYS been at least the 85th percentile on height and weight, but I can’t see why because she is thin! People need to realize that 50th percentile is only an average of all the babies out there! If we all make our babies diet, we’ll throw off the growth charts causing the next generation’s kids to suffer more. Kids need a well rounded diet and although my daughter “looks” thin, I don’t hand her junk to bulk her up. She eats treats, she eats veggies, she eats meat. Balance is key!!!

Jen October 5, 2010, 1:00 PM

My daughter is 19 months old and weighs 37 pounds, which is off the charts for her age. Although she is taller too, so she is proportioned appropriately. In all honesty, she does not look fat, but yes, she is a bigger baby, most people mistake her for much older than she is.

At her last checkup appointment last month, the pediatrician made a gentle comment that i should “make wise choices when feeding her”. Trying to limit bad foods, particularly sugar. By no means, did the dr suggest I put her on a diet, but this was a slap in the face that i needed. I did give in and feed her junk, or things she wanted, instead of what was best for her.

We have since gotten rid of a lot of the junk in the house, and are offering healthier alternatives, but boy, it is a challenge to get a toddler to eat better over night, this is vertainly an ongoing issue.

I am and never have been, concerned with her being “fat”, but I am concerned for her weight to continue on like this. She has been walking since she was 9 months old, and every would say “oh, she’ll trim down once she starts walking”, but she never did.

What this mother was suggesting was wrong, and it is sad that she is projecting her own issues onto her baby. I truly hope she got help/advice from a professional, since this diet was HER idea.

julie October 5, 2010, 7:29 PM

I must say, I had a very chubby little boy, my second child of three, that I became concerned about, but I just asked the Dr. if I was feeding him too much, and he said just cut back on all the milk, and feed the boy some real food. I did. All was taken care of. And now……he is 31, 6’3”, 135 lbs. and we worry about his weight again!!! For the opposite reasons!!! He still drinks lots of milk, so what I am saying, is that I think most of the time, the body is what it is. As long as the baby is happy, and getting enough to eat, you shouldn’t worry too much. Notice I said too much. I still worry about all three of my children and they are all in their thirties now! Everything in moderation….. nothing in excess!!!

Vesna October 6, 2010, 7:01 AM

Thanks for sharing this information. It’s good to know that this mother is doing something about her problem so that she doesn’t harm her baby because of her beliefs about food and dieting.

Sometimes parents can’t help transfer their beliefs onto their children and when a parent realizes he/she is harming their child because of it and doing something positive…that’s good news.

Fashion Design October 12, 2010, 5:07 PM

Keep your posts coming, the fashion market needs a lot more articles like these.

Mary December 3, 2010, 10:06 AM

In response to Kathy with the chunky 12 year old: I was a chunky 12 yr old and I WISH my parents took me to a weight clinic. I was constantly ridiculed, excluded, picked last, embarrassed, and I suffered through my teenage years. My mother also believed that this was the way God made me so she continued to feed me foods that SHE thought were best for me. I am now 235lbs and on a diet again. I have to watch everything I eat, exercise until I drop, monitor my calories, carbs, fats, sugar and I am sick of it. I have Type 2 diabetes which scares me horribly. Had my mother dealt with this issue when I was 12, I could have learned “THEN” how my body responds to certain foods and maybe I would not have suffered so much. Trust me, I speak from experience….taking your daughter to a weight clinic is nothing compared to the emotional abuse she will go through as a teenager.

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