As the months pass, you may become concerned about your child's size or shape. Is your baby growing properly? Is your child getting too fat? Or is he not growing fast enough?
Like all healthy babies, your baby was born with a certain amount of padding. Until he begins to develop and exercise muscles, this baby fat is perfectly natural.
How round is too round? If your baby is not gaining weight during this first year, then he's not growing properly. As long as your baby is gaining both height and weight, weight gain shouldn't be a problem. That's why your pediatrician (or a nurse) measures your baby's height and weight at each visit-and one of the reasons why initial well-baby visits are scheduled so frequently. But if your baby's weight gain is consistently outstripping his gain in height, your pediatrician may advise you to take one or more steps to try to slow your baby's weight gain.
If your pediatrician does suggest that you need to monitor your baby's weight, observe the following dos and don'ts when trying to regulate your baby's weight gain:
- Do try to soothe or calm your baby using something other than the breast or bottle (or later, something other than solid foods or juices).
- Don't automatically push food on your baby when he's upset. He may want something else, but nonetheless accept food as a substitute. This situation can set up an unhealthy pattern of eating to placate that, unfortunately, can last a lifetime.
- Do offer your baby water instead of formula or breast milk "between" feedings. If your baby seems to want to drink or suckle within an hour or two of a previous feeding, he may be thirsty rather than hungry, or he may just want something to suck on.
- Don't dilute formula (by adding more water) unless your pediatrician specifically instructs you to do so.
- Do dilute juice with water.
- Don't nurse your baby (or feed him with a bottle) as much when you start him on solid foods, but don't wean him altogether either. The increase in solid foods should be balanced with an equivalent decrease in the amount of formula or breast milk he drinks.
- Do encourage your baby to be more active. Give him more free time on the floor. Do baby calisthenics, bending your baby's joints and exercising his muscles by hand. Help him practice pulling up to sitting (or even standing). Encourage him to bounce while standing and holding your hands.
Whatever you do, don't take any measures to control weight gain without first discussing your concerns with your pediatrician. Just because you think your baby looks fat doesn't mean that he needs to go on a diet. Get a professional opinion first.