The study, which is being presented at the the International Congress of Dietetics in Sydney, discovered many mums in a research group in Australia could not correctly identify their child's weight, especially if the little one was carrying some extra pounds.
Researcher Rebecca Byrne quizzed 276 mums and asked them to describe their 12-16 month old babies as either underweight, normal weight or overweight.
The researchers then measured the children's heights and weights, and compared them with the mother's take on their statistics. The results showed most mums could accurately size-up their children - 27 mums thought their babies were too thin, but only one of them actually was, while 32 per cent of the babies were overweight but with only 4 per cent of their mums assessing them as such.
Rebecca Byrne said this indicated that mums who were worried their children were not eating enough might pressure them into eating – or bribe them with puddings or treats - which could then result in the children ignoring their own cues of hunger and fullness. This could, ultimately lead to weight gain as it is inadvertently promoting overeating, she concluded.
"Being a chubby baby is often seen as healthy and something children will grow out of," Rebecca added, "This can mean parents are less likely to seek support to prevent further excess weight gain."
"Serious prevention efforts need to start early in life to turn around the trend of increasing childhood overweight and obesity, and set kids up for life-long good health," she said, adding that parents aren't being given the support they need to understand normal child growth and how to pick up weight problems in their children. She advised that healthcare providers should use any contact they have with families as an opportunity to give information about children's weight and general health.
What do you think about this?
Do you think you can accurately assess whether your toddler is under or over weight?
Or do you worry they do not eat enough and try to bribe them with food?