Learn what you need to know about baby fat, and how much is too much, from pediatrician Dyan Hes, M.D. in this Howcast video about baby development.
Babies are all a little bit fat, because that’s what they have on their body. They have a little bit of fat.
They have low muscle tone on their stomach. That’s why their stomachs protrude. As they get older, their stomach tone improves, and their stomach is flatter.
It doesn’t mean that they are fat when their belly sticks out. It’s just how babies bodies are shaped.
Babies need to drink breast milk or formula in order to absorb the fat from the milk to help their brains develop. That’s why we recommend whole milk after breast feeding, or infant bottle feeding until age two. They have that fat from the milk to make their brains develop.
That being said, so why is my baby fat? You have to talk with your doctor and follow your baby on the baby’s growth curve.
The baby might be 90th percentile for weight, but that baby might also be 90th percentile for height. That baby’s height for weight will be correct, and that baby is proportioned.
You would be concerned if your baby is not growing taller, and only growing wider. That might be a sign of something like hypothyroidism.
That’s why we have so many frequent visits to the doctor, to pick up things that might be abnormal, like a growth curve that’s not proper, or feeding habits that aren’t proper.
Sometimes babies are fat because they’re being overfed. Oftentimes, parents misread cues when a baby cries, it might just want a pacifier, or it might want to be held, or changed. A parent might interpret that as my baby’s hungry and feed them too often.
Oftentimes, parents are working and babysitters or grandparents are caring for their child. They think that food is love, and they keep on feeding the baby, because the baby is hungry.
Oftentimes, those babies are not hungry and they’re really just eating out of habit, at that point. That’s when we get worried, is your baby, who might be becoming a toddler, being overfed.
Those are few and far between. Most babies who are chubby babies, as they start crawling, becoming toddlers and walking, they burn off more calories. They slim down.
We do know that breast milk is protective against obesity. We recommend breast feeding to protect against obesity in addition to a lot of other benefits for the immune system. That being said, you can be a formula fed baby and also be slim as an adult.
It’s all about giving the right amount of milk to your child. You should discuss that with your pediatrician at each visit, how much formula, or how much breast feeding should my child be getting. What other nutrients should be added into the diet.