If you're concerned about your baby's weight, consult your baby's doctor. Growth, development and weight are expected topics to discuss during routine well-baby exams.
During infancy, the doctor will plot your baby's growth on charts that show weight for length. Later, your baby's doctor may calculate your child's BMI. You can use the charts to track your child's growth trend and to compare your baby's growth with that of other infants of the same sex and age. According to the World Health Organization growth charts, a baby with a weight-for-length greater than the 98th percentile is considered to have a high weight for length.
Remember, babies need a diet high in fat to support growth during infancy. A baby who's exclusively breast-fed gets about half of his or her daily calories from the fat in breast milk. As a result, caloric restrictions aimed at reducing weight are not recommended for babies 2 years and under.
Excess fat and calories can still be a concern, though. For example, being too heavy can delay crawling and walking — essential parts of a baby's physical and mental development. While a large baby may not become an overweight child, a child who is obese often remains obese as an adult.
To keep your baby at a healthy weight:
- Monitor your weight gain during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase a baby's birth weight. Research suggests that as birth weight increases, so does the risk of childhood obesity.
- Breast-feed. Some research suggests that breast-feeding reduces the risk of childhood obesity.
- Limit sugar-sweetened drinks. Juice isn't a necessary part of a baby's diet. As you start introducing solid foods, consider offering nutritious whole fruits and vegetables instead.
- Experiment with ways to soothe your baby. Don't automatically turn to breast milk or formula to quiet your baby's cries. Sometimes a new position, a calmer environment or a gentle touch is all that's needed.
- Limit media use. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 years. The more TV your child watches, the greater his or her risk is of becoming overweight.
As your child gets older, continue talking to his or her doctor about weight and nutrition. For additional guidance, you might consult a registered dietitian as well.
July 14, 2020
- Uwaezuoke SN, et al. Relationship between exclusive breastfeeding and lower risk of childhood obesity: A narrative review of published evidence. Clinical Medicine Insights: Pediatrics. 2017;11:1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28469518. Accessed June 26, 2018.
- Rogers SL, et al. Breastfeeding duration and its relation to weight gain, eating behaviours and positive maternal feeding practices in infancy. Appetite. 2017;108:399.
- Frequently asked questions. Nutrition during pregnancy FAQ001. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy#obese. Accessed June 27, 2018.
- Dutton H, et al. Obesity in pregnancy: Optimizing outcomes for mom and baby. The Medical Clinics of North America. 2018;102:87.
- Kleinman RE, ed. Pediatric obesity. In: Pediatric Nutrition. 7th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2014. https://shop.aap.org. Accessed July 9, 2018.
- Lawrence RA, et al. Normal growth, failure to thrive, and obesity in infants. In: Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 6, 2018.
- Holt K, et al., eds. Nutrition issues and concerns. In: Bright Futures: Nutrition. 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2011. https://brightfutures.aap.org/materials-and-tools/nutrition-and-pocket-guide/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed July 9, 2018.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Overweight and obesity. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 9, 2018.
- Pujalte GGA, et al. Addressing pediatric obesity in clinic. Global Pediatric Health. 2017;4:1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29119130. Accessed July 9, 2018.
- WHO growth chart training. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/growthcharts/who/using/assessing_growth.htm. Accessed July 6, 2018.