Is it 'baby fat' or is your baby fat?

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

When one says ‘healthy baby’, one pictures in mind a well-fed, cute-looking chubby and fat baby.

For ages, chubbiness has been considered as a sign of good health and wellness in a baby. Not anymore, if one hears what researchers have to say!

Babies who are chubby have a high risk of developing obesity early on in life, a new study in the UK states.

The researchers have found that babies, who gain a lot of weight in the first two months of life, are prone to develop obesity early on in childhood and later in early adulthood.

Babies require a high amount of fat to support their growth during infancy. Achieving important milestones depends on how well-fed and nourished the baby is. Breast milk alone is sufficient for the baby to meet its nutrient requirements.

Excess fat can be a cause of concern. Milestones like crawling and talking can be hampered due to excess body weight.

Babies who are chubby have a high risk of developing obesity early on in life.

With childhood obesity occupying the topmost place among dreaded diseases affecting children, curbing excessive weight gain in infants becomes very important.

A whole range of factors are responsible for influencing infant weight gain and these factors also influence weight gain later on in life. Here are few tips on what you could do to ensure that your baby is healthy and not over-weight.

  1. Feed your baby every two hours or as per his hunger and needs. But do not overfeed. Babies know instinctively when to pull away from the breast when they are full. Do not force your child to suck.
  2. Feed your baby with patience and do not force him to suck fast. A minimum of 20 minutes on each breast is recommended before you switch over. In case of toddlers and infants who have been started on solid foods, let the child take his time to finish the food.
  3. Avoid feeding or nursing your baby every time he cries. Babies cry for several reasons other than hunger. Latching him on to a nipple to stop crying may work, but it isn’t advisable.
  4. If your baby is sucking his thumb, do not assume it is hungry. Babies like putting things to their mouth, a thumb or a pacifier is ideal at times.
  5. As your baby grows older, increase the time between feeds. Feed every 2 hours in the first month. From 2 to 6 months of age, feed every 3 hours.
  6. Avoid giving solid foods to your baby till he completes at least 4 months of age.
  7. In case of bottle fed babies, stop when the baby turns his head and refuses to drink more. Do not force or cajole him to finish the bottle.
  8. Stop breastfeeding by 12 months of age. Delayed weaning leads to obesity and other health problems when babies grow up.

All parents have the best intents at heart when it comes to their baby’s health. But remember to not overdo things and get carried away in the excitement and society’s perception of a ‘healthy’ baby.