Why Is Your Baby So Skinny? America’s Obsession With Fat Babies

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Ariabella Zofia Gray
6 weeks old, a little over 8 Ibs and growing!

If you don’t already know, I had my daughter on May 12, so as I write this she’s exactly 6 weeks old (a little over one month in non-mommy lingo.) I know, I know, it’s annoying how mother’s use weeks when asked how old their child is, as in they’re like “24 weeks,” and you quickly have to do the math in your head to figure out the kid is 6 months old.

It is odd how being a new parent changes your vocabulary, disposition and level of patience and how it forces you to become the best time manager ever. You literally have to plot out a strategy as to not when but if you will shower, and only then can you maybe figure out when it will happen. You spend way too much time figuring out how you will walk the dogs and how you will get everyone (including baby) out the door. If you’re crafty, you manage to go to the toilet while the baby is still snuggled against you in the baby carrier.

Oh, how things change when parenthood sets in complete with a 24/7 burping, spitting up, pooping, pissing, crying, and feeding machine. Before my daughter was born, I grew fed up with all the talk from other parents about how tough it would be and how little sleep I’d get and how dramatic my life would change and how much my perspective would shift. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I thought. Well, actually, it’s all true. Every bit of it, the new parent insanity stories of joy and heartache and annoyance and helplessness and utter unconditional love you’ve never felt for anyone else. It’s all true. The good, bad and the exhausted of it all.

When I was pregnant I only gained about 20 pounds. The first thing that I saw on some, not all, of people’s faces was a look of disapproval. Someone said, “Oh, you’re 8 months…you look like your 5. The baby is going to be tiny!” It was almost accusatory, like I was purposely starving myself and my unborn child just to count calories and not gain any more inches. However, I will say that I stayed fit and exercised all the way up until the day before my water broke.

According to my doctor and medical professionals (including those in my own family), and contrary to what people might think, you’re not eating for two when pregnant. You’re supposed to eat healthy and not consume so many additional calories that you’ve gained more than the necessary 25-35 pounds (not including those with multiples). But, people assume bigger is better and healthier. The normal range for a baby’s weight at birth is 5.5-10 pounds. However, 10-pounds is definitely on the larger end and not as common. Those that are larger come out looking as big as a one month old. In fact, my one month old is just now a little over 8-pounds. I’ve known some women who have had 10-pound babies and even a 12-pounder! Just this past February a Tampa, Florida mom gave birth to a 14.1-pound baby!

The biggest obsession for any mother is that their baby is healthy. You not only want the baby to come out with all his/her fingers and toes but you worry if he/she will be at a healthy weight. It’s no wonder women tend to go overboard when it comes to eating.

I can empathize why so many women might over consume. The fear is having a tiny, preemie that is destined for the NICU and won’t be able to leave the hospital with you because of under-developed lungs and other complications. But, is bigger necessarily better and healthier? In California a Samoan couple set a new record having the biggest baby born at 16-pounds. However, that wasn’t the first 16-pounder. Back in 2011 a 16-pound baby was born in Texas as well, but that’s nothing. The Guinness Book of World Records notes that Canadian Anna Bates gave birth to a whopping 23-pound, 12-ounce baby boy!

Doctors counter that larger babies have problems with their heart and lower blood pressure because they’re used to high sugar while in the womb. But once they are born their blood sugar drops. They are also more susceptible to jaundice, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity. Mother’s are prone to vaginal tearing during birth or the baby could be trapped in the pelvis.

My daughter isn’t very big and so far I have been surprised at just how many people have commented, “Oh, she’s so tiny.” I’ve even heard that she looks like a preemie. I’ll admit, we received quite a bit of hand-me-downs from family and friends. Most, if not, all the clothes are too big for her, even the newborn clothes. And forget about keeping socks on her little feet. But, I’m also told not to worry because she’ll “fatten up.”

I guess fat babies signify abundance to some people. Take that scene in The Interview where Dave Skylark (James Franco) points out a fat little Korean kid and then he’s told that fat children are a sign of prosperity. Growing up with a Korean mom, I could sort of relate and I get it because it’s cultural. Though currently, fat babies have become a big part of American culture too.

Anyway, no, I am not starving my child. At 6 weeks she’s a little over 8 lbs. She’ll likely be a lean kid but also an athletic one, as she’s already been attempting to hold her head up since her birthday. Call it a motherly instinct, regardless of all babies growth spurts, I don’t think she’s going to suddenly grow 10 sizes and resemble a mini Sumo wrestler anytime soon.

The Bottom Line:

Babies are cute regardless of their size. There’s nothing wrong with having a cute and chubby baby. It’s also equally fine if your baby is not on the fat side. Studies show that 50 percent of all mothers are overweight and obese. Studies also show that babies born to healthy, active mothers, those that exercised throughout their pregnancy, tend to be born more svelt and even with healthier hearts. More recent findings suggest that babies that are born to active mothers that worked out throughout their pregnancy were more prone to become fit and active outside of the womb.

My baby is lean but she’s healthy, according to her doctor, and that’s the most important thing. There are so many schools of thought especially when it comes to children and parenting that it can be exhausting to consider them all. It’s almost annoying to hear all the varying different opinions because there are so many. It’s whatever works for you and your family, so as long as you keep in mind to incorporate healthy habits that your entire family can benefit from.

Dr. Mariam Stoppard


6 thoughts on “Why Is Your Baby So Skinny? America’s Obsession With Fat Babies

    Kim Gorman said:
    January 8, 2017 at 6:40 AM

    Your daughter is beautiful and perfect exactly as she is, as was your pregnancy weight. I agree pregnancy isn’t an excuse to stuff one’s face and overeat unnecessarily. Although I did gain between 40 and 50 pounds with each of my pregnancies even though I’m only 5’4″ and typically weigh about 127 pounds. I actually gave birth to huge babies. My youngest son was 9 lbs.15.5 ounces. My first two were each exactly 9 lbs. 10 ounces. My second youngest (yes, I have four sons) was 8 lbs. 14 ounces. He is the only one that my water naturally broke the day after his due date. With the others, they were roughly two weeks overdue and labor had to be induced because nothing was happening on its own. I think that’s why they were so huge, because those two weeks they just packed on pounds and it was so hard carrying them around. Also, large babies run in our family. I myself was over 9 lbs. at birth, as were my brothers, though my mom is thin. I think that’s why I gained so much weight, to be able to carry them without tipping over 🙂 Fortunately, I lost it all quite soon thanks to breastfeeding and being active both during and after pregnancy. Anyhow, enough babbling. Thanks for checking out my blog, and keep up the good work with your darling daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo said:
      January 8, 2017 at 2:39 PM

      Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. Yes, my daughter is still super small she can still fit in to some 9 month clothes and she’s 20 months! We all come in different sizes. We call her our Princess Peanut! 🙂 Wow a 15 pound baby!!! That’s amazing! I’m so glad you lost all the weight. Even though I didn’t gain that much, I haven’t lost the 5-10 pounds. I’m about 140 currently. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        Kim Gorman said:
        January 8, 2017 at 5:20 PM

        Not 15 pounds, 9 pounds 15 ounces lol. Just the thought of 15 pounds is mind blowing.

        Liked by 1 person

    Sonyo Estavillo said:
    January 8, 2017 at 5:41 PM

    Sorry, I read it fast. 🙂 Yeah, I can’t imagine 15 pound babies….but I heard it’s happened!


    MQ said:
    March 22, 2018 at 12:46 PM

    I just waned to let you know that this article has fully made my day! My son is tiny *they say* so skinny he doesn’t put on any weight? Feed him potatoes and butter daily! i felt guilty for the first few months thinking i was a bad mother – he was breastfed but did not turn into a sumo wrestler like his cousins lol and so i’ve always gotten flack for it! i ended up at the doctors office every week because i was so obsessed with his weight- but you should see him.. we call him our little flash… runs,walks,talks like a little man! this post gives me hope! My baby boy is perfect! not every baby is the same size and fat doesn’t always mean healthy

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo said:
      March 22, 2018 at 1:25 PM

      So, true. Your son is perfect as he is. The doctors told me as long as our daughter was growing, she is fine. If they don’t grow or become underweight or if they’re height isn’t growing, that sort of thing then there is a problem. Our daughter is now almost 3 years old. She’ll be 3 this May and she’s super healthy. She’s still petite and kids are taller than her, but I’m not that tall and my husband isn’t short but he’s not a 6-footer either. 🙂 My daughter is super fast too. I think the petite kids have so much energy! It’s awesome. With childhood obesity being an epidemic, at least we know our kids will be athletic and not really have weight issues. Thanks for reading and stopping by! ❤


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