There are few things as joyous as the smell of a newborn baby’s head, their tiny hands and feet, and of course those ubiquitous chunky thighs that make everyone want to pretend to bite your child.
But how many rolls are too many? Is there such a thing as a problematically fat baby? Or is it just puppy fat that will drop off as soon as they are more active and moving around?
One anonymous mum posted on Mumsnet explaining that people had been commenting on her baby’s weight and it was staring to concern her.
She wrote, alongside a picture of her six-month-old child: “Everyone always comments on her legs and how fat they are and it’s getting to me. For example someone said yesterday ‘bloody hell how much are you feeding her?’”
The parent even included what she is feeding her child, saying: “She has less than the average amount of formula and never finishes a bottle. She also only started weaning last week and has so far only had fruit, veg and Weetabix.”
People responded reassuring the mum that she had nothing to worry about.
One said: “They’re fine and your acquaintances are being rude. My son’s legs and arms and face were much chubbier than this and he is now a very lean and healthy young man.”
Another said: “Your baby is fine. Ignore idiots with their stupid comments.”
Another had a similar experience: ”We get loads of comments too, people just don’t think and it does upset me too. My DD [dear daughter] only started a bit of solids a couple of weeks ago so I really don’t think she’s over eating - they’re just healthy girls!
Although people were supportive of the mum and said she had nothing to worry about, can parents over-feed babies, resulting in them being overweight?
Last month a report from Public Health England (PHE) found around 75% of children aged 18 months to four years old are overweight due to overfeeding.
Professor Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at PHE, said the report needed to help avoid infants becoming “too heavy”. He told the BBC: “Further consideration is needed on ways to monitor overfeeding and overweight prevalence in infants, to help give them the best start in life.”
Am I feeding my child too much?
The World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life and then after six months they are weaned on to “nutritionally-adequate” solid foods.
Breastfeeding can continue up to a recommended age of two years. But cows’ milk should not be given until a child is 12 months old.
What weight is my baby meant to be?
Firstly, the NHS advises parents that all babies are different, and your baby’s weight progress won’t look exactly the same as another baby’s, even their own brother or sister.
It’s normal for babies to lose some weight in the first few days after birth before then regaining weight. At two weeks old 80% of babies are back to their birth weight or above it.
The NHS website says: “Usually your baby will gain weight most rapidly in the first six to nine months. Their rate of growth will gradually slow down as they become a toddler and are more active.
“If your baby or toddler is ill, their weight gain may slow down for a while. It will usually return to normal within two to three weeks.”
How do I monitor my baby’s weight?
Unless there are concerns about your child’s growth, your baby will be weighed once a month up to six months of age, then no more than every two months between six and twelve months, and no more than every three months over the age of one. This will be done by your health visitor or at your local baby clinic and their growth (including length) will be recorded on centile charts in their personal child health record, or red book.
The charts, which are different for male and female babies, show the pattern of growth healthy children usually follow, whether they’re breastfed or formula fed, or having a mixture of both.
The NHS says: “Your baby’s weight and height may not follow a centile line exactly. Their measurements may go up or down by one centile line, but it’s less common for them to cross two centile lines. If this happens, talk to your health visitor, who can advise you.”
For more information about baby weight or height, talk to your health visitor or GP.