An Obese Baby - The Cuteness Factor versus the Dangers

Whether you refer to her as an obese baby or a fat baby, bigger infants usually receive the most attention for being so incredibly cute. But when a four month old infant is denied health insurance for being obese everyone sits up and takes note.

An obese baby can face long-term health problems. Find out what they are and how the benefits of breastfeeding affects a fat baby. Can baby routine or other factors help prevent obesity?

First of all, is there a difference between a chubby baby and an obese baby? Yes, an obese baby will truly look fat not just chubby.

obese baby

According to the experts there is reason to be concerned about infant obesity.

Elsie Taveras, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School says:

"There is increasing evidence that rapid changes in weight during infancy increase childrens risk of later obesity. The mounting evidence suggests that infancy may be a critical period during which to prevent childhood obesity and its related consequences."

Sobering results of research.

How plausible is such a conclusion?

Matthew Gillman, MD, of Harvard's Obesity Prevention Program says:

"At first it may seem implausible that weight gain over just a few months early in infancy could have long-term health consequences, but it makes sense because so much of human development takes place during that period - and even before birth."

With the seriousness of long-term consequences having been established, what can be done?

Some general suggestions are:

*Get your baby moving, even if that means you do her stretches for her - bending her legs up, down and across.

*Avoid using full strength juice to satisfy thirst. Mixing with an equal part water will cut the calories in half.

*Try to get your baby use to plain water served from a bottle or cup (drinking from a cup made water a bit more exciting for my kids when they were infants).

*When starting solids, don't use food to comfort an upset baby. Love and cuddles address the problem more effectively and are a lot lower in calories.

*Avoid rushing your infant through a feeding. It will take 15-20 minutes for her belly to feel full.

*Don't pressure her to finish her bottle if she shows signs that she is full.

*Avoid under diluting formula. Under diluted formula contains a lot more calories. Don't over dilute it either because babies under a year old really need the cholesterol and fat.

Is obesity a danger for infants who exclusively breast-feed?

Research has shown that breastfed babies are 30% less likely to be obese later in life.

Interestingly, breast milk automatically adjusts to a baby's needs.

The first milk, called fore milk, contains less fat and less calories. This will mostly satisfy a hungry baby's appetite. Then, the hind milk, which comes at the end of a feeding has the higher fat and calories. A breastfed baby is in full control of her portion, and will usually stop when full. My daughter didn't though.

At birth, my daughter weighed 6 pounds 6 oz. and was only 19 3/4" in length - a very small, short baby. At two months old, she weighed in at 12 pounds, and at four months she was over 15 pounds. I was exclusively breastfeeding her and she was a very obese baby as you can see in the above picture when she was three months old. In the picture below my daughter was just over a year. As soon as she started walking at fifteen months though, my little girl slimmed right down. Now, at five years old, you would never know she had been so big - she is not even a little chubby."

For this reason, I find the following quote very encouraging.

Lactation Consultant Joy Heads, 2009 Filca Recipient (Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association), as quoted in Sydney, Australia's Sunday Telegraph asserts:

"There are very few waste products in breast milk, which is almost perfectly utilized. You can have a big, chubby breast-fed baby and there is no problem with that at all. But a fat, bottle-fed baby has a higher chance of being obese later in life."

Strong motivation to exclusively breast-feed.

obese baby

So, despite the cuteness factor of an obese baby, research has shown there are very real health dangers. However, you can do something about it. Baby routine and how you start your baby on solids makes a difference.

If you are able to breastfeed your baby you can be happy that in doing so she can enjoy the many benefits of breastfeeding, one of them being that she is less likely to be a fat baby now and later in life. Like me, you want your baby to be healthy now and for always, and helping her in these practical ways can aid you in this.

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