3 year old daugher is gaining weight rapidly

Suzie - posted on 07/23/2012 ( 33 moms have responded )

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Let me first say that I have a degree in nutrition.... so my daughter is only exposed to healthy foods when she is with me*** (we are a blended family and this is not the case when she goes to her dads) and we are also very active. She is the type of kid who asks for shrimp or salmon when we are at the grocery store and every morning thinks cream of wheat or oatmeal with fruit sounds great! She even through a fit at my parent's house when they offered her a kolache and I had to make her, her oatmeal. My Mom thinks its the cutest thing ever.

Recently she came back from her dad's/his parents and after 8 days with them, she gained 2.5 lbs!!!!!! Thats equivalent to 7% of her body weight... in 8 days. I was shocked and horrified... How does that happen? I know they feed her the wrong foods, obviously. But is it even possible for a little body like that to gain that much weight in 8 days time? And when she is with me (most of the time), you would think a few treats or even 8 days of bad food wouldn't be the end of the world and make her gain 2.5 lbs!

I am very petite. 5 ft tall and 110 lbs so maybe thats why I don't understand this. My daughter has always been at 90% + for height and she used to be 75% for weight but after that week, we are now looking at 88%. She is gorgeous, don't get me wrong. She has always just been solid.... Her dad is a little overweight and 5'9. I think its his mother that contributes all of this to my daughter- she is about 400 lbs and has been that way forever. But then again she eats horrible so I never considered there to be a genetic component.

Do any of you have older kids that were like this and out grew it? I have heard of a gene that some people have where they are larger children and then once they stop growing at 12, it all balances out. I was like that in a way... Overweight in late primary school and junior high but by the time high school hit, I was the same height and slim.

I just don't want her to have to go through the emotional problems and physcial issues that being overweight brings. It breaks my heart to think she will have to go through this.

Right now she is on detox! haha but seriously, I am determined to "undue" what her father has done. I talked to him about this, he says he is concerned but in all honesty she will be eating marshmellow cereal the very next time she is at his house.

Has anybody else dealt with this issue???? I am at a complete loss. I have a degree in this stuff and yet when it comes to my daughter I can't seem to "fix" her.

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[deleted account]

This most likely doesn't have any scientific backing: but I have heard that when someone who has an extremely healthy diet binges on extremely unhealthy foods they gain more weight that someone who has been eating that food their entire lives (even if they have the same base weight).

My daughter is 2.5 gains her weight in an odd way. She stays the same weight for months than gains 2-3 lbs then will sleep like crazy and shoot up. That is with out any major diet changes. So if you daughter has reach a similar point in her growth, she might have put on more weight that she normally would have.

She could also be a bit constipated from the diet change which would also contribute to a weight gain.

I would still talk with the father about your concerns, but there are a lot of other things that could have caused it.

Also might I suggest to not focus to heavily on her weight, you may be positioning her to feel self conscious about her weight even if she is a healthy weight.

Jodi - posted on 07/23/2012

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DO you weigh her that often that you weigh her before she goes to her dad's house? Is there a reason for that? I just find it hard to believe that you know the exact weight because you choose to weigh her before and after going to her father's house. To me that's just bizarre.

Dove - posted on 07/24/2012

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My kids never seem to gain weight, but they have grown an inch in 2 weeks before. ;)

You can have it put in a court order that he has to take her to her activities on the weekend. Granted, it would be wrong to fill up the weekend with stuff, but ONE class during the weekend is perfectly reasonable and I can't see a judge not going for it. If your ex won't be reasonable for his daughter's sake, of course.

Suzie - posted on 07/24/2012

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To all of you who say I am setting my child up for an eating disorder... I am not... I counsel patients in food issues.... None of my concern is directed to my daughter. Its directed to other moms who I thought could understand my feelings and might have had children in the same boat... to give me some peace of mind.

I am sorry I ever posted this.... As a mom, we want the best for our kids. And I was stressing because I felt like her father and his family was certainly not giving her the best.... and stressing even more that maybe she does have some genetic component that make her predisposed to having issues with weight. I was just hoping that somebody would have had shared a similar experience and could offer some advice. I had to idea that sharing some frustration would give you guys the impression that I was setting my three year old up for an eating disorder.

I love my daughter.... And I am very supportive of her. I am always positive and always encouraging her to do the right thing... no matter if thats consoling one of her sad friends at school, eating the right foods or making sure she says her prayers at night.

I'm done with this post.

Suzie - posted on 07/24/2012

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Oh and I am planning to take her to the doc next week just to see if there is some underlying issue that might be causing this. Thanks for all of your advice.

33 Comments

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Sonia - posted on 11/19/2013

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The same exact thing happened to my 5 yr old. She is used to a healthy, candy free lifestyle and when she travelled this past summer to my sister's without me, she came back bloated and heavier in two weeks. I was distraught and angry and dissapointed. My daughter started behaving badly and insisting on sugary treats and junk food. Thankfully, I managed to get her healthy lifestyle on track. But since then, I worry if I am not there what she is being given to eat.

Suzie - posted on 08/06/2012

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Christie, I know how frustrated you are... Thats how I felt. It took about a week and I got my daughter back to her healthy self again.... and she leaves Tuesday for one more week with her dad for summer visitation... and she is headed for grandma's house! I don't know how to fix it. I have tried talking to her dad... His mother has no respect for me. In fact, at one point my daughter came home when she was 2 and told me "Granny doesn't like you". I said "what makes you think that?" She said "Well, She said you are not a very nice person.". Nice... I just told her to tell Granny next time you see her that Mommy likes her. She has even sent me letters (in the mail) that I am a terrible mom... and that I put her in this divorced situation and I don't let her enjoy life and enjoy sweets and such... I do... with in reason! We make cookies, she goes to the donut shop and gets half a donut twice a month with my boyfriend (that's there thing and only them!)

Honestly, I don't think there is a fix for it. I think we just have to empower our kids to make better choices than the people who are supposed to be setting an example. Your son is a little older. Maybe you can have a talk with him about balance....that he needs to enjoy himself, eat some yummy foods as a treat at grandmas but that he also needs to eat the same healthy foods he normally eats with you at grandmas house too.

Christie - posted on 08/05/2012

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My son is 6 yrs old and ALWAYS gains several pounds at his dad's house.. it is grandma who does it but they just do not care. He has not been with them in 8 months and he was losing so much weight with me, we do karate 4x a week I watch what he eats and how much. He is a big boy by nature but on Friday morning he weighed 81 lbs and today Sunday he weighs 87.6 lbs.. how is this ok?! I do not know what to do to stop it. Grandma thought it was funny and the sperm donor just doesnt care. I am at my wits end with this but if i refuse them visits I get in trouble.. I am so mad right now I just want to scream and cry. Has anyone had luck fixing this problem?!

Pamela - posted on 07/25/2012

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If the weight gain is not consistent....like every week she's gaining 2.5 lbs....what are you so concerned about? This country is obsessed with weight and looks.

As long as she is healthy why are you concerned about what some chart or percentages say? Think for yourself......don't let magazines and other's beliefs about weight and percentages of weight do your thinking and parenting for you!

Jessica - posted on 07/25/2012

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I don't know what to tell you, but on a side note, it is us that have the health backgrounds that find this the most difficult. I am an athletic trainer, nutritionally trained and all, and I find myself in the same type of position too of wanting to "fix" things but can't.

Try to find out what she consumed while she was there, but do you think it might just be she just so happened to hit a growth spurt while you were away from her? My oldest is only 6, tall and skinny, so I don't know when they hit that next growth spurt or even if 2.5 lb gained in 8 days is normal.

Good luck!

[deleted account]

Since your daughter has a cardiologist, can he/she give a list of recommended foods to your ex and his parents? Coming from her doctor should help them see how important her diet is.

Kelina - posted on 07/24/2012

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sarah-I'm really sorry to hear that, my own dad was the same way. but if grandma and grandpa are the ones taking care of her, maybe you could talk to them? about putting her in dance? I'm sorry, in your first couple of posts I didn't see anything saying that this was something she wanted to do, just that you wanted to put her into it and dad wanted to spend his own time with her. but knowing she wants to do it makes it different and I agree, he should be willing to take her to the things she wants to do. Would it be possible for her to just go every two weeks when she's home with you? I also know what it's like to have in laws (or in your case ex in laws) who completely disregard food rules to the point of bringing crap to my house-cheesies, chips, cookies and such. on a regular basis. and making the kids sick every time they go visit. frustrating in the extreme, but nothing you can do about if they're as hard headed as mine. It's like trying to change the direction of the wind.

Lisa - posted on 07/24/2012

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I can understand why you would be worried but I can tell you my story- both of my kids will stay the same weight for a long time and then will shoot up- yes we have seen 2.5 lbs gain in a week. At her age now if she is anything like my kids I would anticipate not seeing a really strict growth curve. Both of my kids were always lower %ile for weight except one year- when they were three. They both had their weight curve shoot up to 90th+ %ile. Both their father and I are heavier so the doc commented on it, but with both of them by their next check-up they were back to 50th %ile and we didn't change anything about their diets. If I were you I wouldn't worry about it unless it continues at such a rate for more than a couple of weeks or if there are other symptoms that accompany it.

Did you weigh her on the same scale as the doctor did? As you know scales can differ a lot. Also, did you weigh her again a couple of days later? The reason I am asking is because if she had a higher salt diet at her dad's some of the weight you saw could have been just water retention.

Suzie - posted on 07/24/2012

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I appreciate your thoughts Chelle. I think this last visit was just the last straw... maybe I overreacted but there has been so much history and this last time, I just felt at such a loss. I've tried so hard and for her to be doubled over in pain because her tummy hurts... It just really bothered me. I'm moving on....

Suzie - posted on 07/24/2012

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Thanks Nikki, Its not that I am excluding those foods completely from her diet... she loves to make cookies with me and occasionally my boyfriend will even take her to get donuts on a Saturday morning in her pajamas. (We've been together since she was 1). We just save those for treats, give her a a child size serving, and accompany it with other more nutritional foods where as her dad and grandmother give her three scoops of ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate syrup... so says facebook. I don't have facebook so I didn't know this was going on. Somebody else just told me.

Either way, her dad and I are going to have to work through it even though it is difficult to get him on board.... and for right now, we have to balance things out so we are just going to be eating super healthy foods until we can get back on track.

Nikki - posted on 07/24/2012

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Thoughts-endocrine related possible yes, growth spurt ehh maybe, diet related possibly you dont know. I have learned that you can not control your ex nor the foods or activites they offer. Explain to him why you encourage her to eat healthy let him know what snacks she likes and continue to be healthy and active with her as you are now. No more frozen yogurt, cupcakes, etc is extreme and if you control her food this much now i fear it could cause body image disturbances or binging later. teach her to eat healthy for life but also everything in moderation :)

Suzie - posted on 07/24/2012

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Thanks for all of your help. I just want you guys to know that I am NOT making an issue of my daughters weight to her at all. But as a mom and a nutritionist who sees how debilitating being over weight and obese can be.... I am naturally concerned when my daughter gains 2.5 lbs in a week at her dads. Her grandmother has been morbidly obese her entire life. And unfortunately you would think that would compel her to make sure my daughter didn't have to face the same emotional and physical issues she did. However, its the exact opposite. She has mailed me certified letters stating I am a horrible mother because I don't allow my daughter to indulge in desserts and the like and enjoy her life. She can't believe I teach my daughter that cookies are "little bit foods" and that she only gets half a cookie for dessert occasionally. OR that she can have a little heavy cream in her fruit, it won't hurt when my daughter likes her fruit plain. My mother is a little overweight and when she read the letter, she was even shocked by her lack of understanding.

My daughter has always had a sensitivity to sugar. When she was younger and had too much sugar she would throw up. Over Christmas break with them, she threw up three times. Each time, my ex tried to explain it away but of course I knew... they had what she was eating posted all over facebook. Now that my daughter is a little older, she doesn't throw up as often after eating sugar but I think that is why we are having more of an issue with her stomach bothering her. I don't want my daughter to be doubled over in pain because her stomach hurts or wake herself up in the middle of the night vomiting. As a mom, you don't want that for your daughter.

Kelina- Just to let you know we have a dad who is only in his daughter's life because his parents are forcing him to be for their sake. Its great that her grandparents want to be in her life although my daughter has come home and told me that her grandmother doesn't like me because I am a mean person. But her father is an alcoholic that wouldn't even take her on Father's Day because he wanted to do something for himself- since it was fathers day and all. The fact is he takes her to his parents every weekend he has her or his parents come to him so they can help care for our daughter. The reason he doesn't want her to do dance on the weekend is because he doesn't want to have to drive her there but he will drive her 4 hours to see his parents. He was fine if the dance class was during the week and I took her.

The truth is.... regardless of activity, parents sacrifice personal time so that their children can be involved in activities. Regardless if is soccer, baseball, dance, gymnastics, etc. parents make the time to allow their kids to be a part of something. Thats all I want to do.... My daughter has been begging me for months to be in dance and I know that if anything comes up and it is over his weekend, she will not be able to participate because he isn't willing to give up what he wants to do to take her- even for a 45 minute class. I knew how much this class meant to my daughter so I asked knowing the answer would probably be no... and it was.

Sorry... this got a little personal... I just get worn out with this whole situation.

Joyce - posted on 07/24/2012

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DIscuss it with your child's pediatrician. If necessary, the pediatrician would likely be happy to the issue with the father, too. Assuming the father loves his child and wants what is best, if it is the doctor's direction, and not yours, he is much more likely to follow the advice.

Chaya - posted on 07/23/2012

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Don't worry about it yet, although you may mention it to dad. Grandmas are going to slip a little junk food into the childs diet whenevery you're not looking. I can't compare my kid to yours because mine was way early, but I can tell you she doubled her birth weight by her first week. This wasn't a bad thing, she weighed 7 pounds after her first week. Amazing.
It probably won't happen again for some time, give it a week, she'll grow into her weight

Chaya - posted on 07/23/2012

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Don't worry about it yet, although you may mention it to dad. Grandmas are going to slip a little junk food into the childs diet whenevery you're not looking. I can't compare my kid to yours because mine was way early, but I can tell you she doubled her birth weight by her first week. This wasn't a bad thing, she weighed 7 pounds after her first week. Amazing.
It probably won't happen again for some time, give it a week, she'll grow into her weight

Alexis - posted on 07/23/2012

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It may be just a growth spurt. My son will gain weight as well as sleep more, than grow taller and slim down again. If she consistently puts on weight you may want to speak with her doc, but at 3 y\o with a good diet and plenty of activity I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe you can not only check on the foods that dad is giving her, but her activity level with him as well. When my son is with his dad they tend to just veg out in front of the TV instead of going outside and doing stuff.

Melodie - posted on 07/23/2012

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You are teaching her to eat correctly. No one can undo that and it will be with her all her life. As she gets older she is going to tell her dad that she doesn't want the unhealthy food and ask for the healthy food. You could try telling him that she likes a certain food instead of telling him what not to get. You could also suggest she tell her dad what she really wants. I wouldn't worry too much right now, it could be a growth spurt. Just keep an eye on it and the best of luck to you!

[deleted account]

I have to say that I seriously hope that you're not making an issue of your daughter's weight in front of her. Being healthy is one thing. Making weight an issue is something that will be destructive as she gets older.

Kelina - posted on 07/23/2012

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how is wanting to spend time with his daughter that's not limited by something you've chosen to put her in selfish? you're lucky he wants to spend time with his daughter, there are a lot of fathers out there who don't. I wouldn't think 2.5lbs in a week is that much but that's probably because that's how I grew. no weight gain forever then I's gain all the weight I was supposed to have gained in two years in two weeks. considering what she ate I'd say you did the right thing in talking to her dad.

Stephani - posted on 07/23/2012

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I have been in your boat! I also have a nutrition degree and my 2yo son was getting crazy bowel issues every time he came back from visiting with his dad. But he only goes with his dad a few days at a time a few times a month. I was able to honesttly talk with my ex about vegetables, sugar, and lean meat. He slips every now and then, but stern talks help him realize that if our son is having such terrible issues, it was from diet. Maybe a good stern lecture would help her father understand. Or even with your daughter's paternal grandmother? If she is overweight, maybe she goes through the problems you don't want your daughter going through and she might understand where you are coming from.
This is my nutritional theory. Medically speaking, I'd say hormone issues- most likely thyroid.

Suzie - posted on 07/23/2012

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My daughter is very active with me... yes, she is gymnastics and I am thinking about putting her in dance. I just called him and since I can only get her into a Saturday morning class... thats a big fat no. Because he has things he wants to do with her... He is probably the most selfish person I know.

Anyway, I did talk to him about her diet and found he has been giving her soy chocolate milk... no more of that... soy is horrible for little girls in that it actually promotes hormone production, no more frozen yogurt, no more marshmellow cereal for every meal (even if it was supposedly organic!)... no more cupcakes, ice cream, smores, candy, popcorn, etc. I also talked to my mom who and she confirmed (via his facebook account) that this last week was full of foods like that and she said what was really gross was the shear quantity.

I guess I didn't realize everything he was feeding her. We typically can't have a constructive conversation so I never really asked but I was so angry that his family did this to her that I didn't care and it surprisingly ended up a constructive conversation.

I know he was a big kid until about 4 but he also was fed that same thing his family ate... horrible foods! Thats why I always thought yes some of them had a weight problem but it was a direct relation to what they ate. I do wonder if there is something additionally wrong... I want to get her blood work done but at the same time, we had a horrible experience drawing blood one time... she was in tears, I was in tears, my mother was in tears.... oh the trauma! haha But I have thought about her thyroid... its just not typical in a little girl her age.

Joanne - posted on 07/23/2012

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2.5 lbs in 8 days does seem a bit extreme. Hopefully you will be able to sit down with your x and come up with some healthy meal planning ideas. I'm sure when you point out that you have his daughter's best interest at heart he'll be receptive.

Judith - posted on 07/23/2012

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No it's definitely not a growth spurt, it's too rapid. Have you thought of a specialist in thyroids as well? Also do you have a good knowledge of her father's side medical history? I agree with the other parent, you need to find out what her father is feeding her and also hope not late hours as well.
LOL! funny stories from others.... Is she active in sports as yet??? well dancing, karate, gumnastics, swimming?? What are her likes so far? I wish you much luck and keep in touch. Yes like another person said prior, you need to find out somehow what her father feeds her and how late etc.... Stay Blessed.

Suzie - posted on 07/23/2012

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maybe.... I don't know. She has been at the same height since she was about 2.5... maybe a growth spurt it due.

Suzie - posted on 07/23/2012

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Thanks for your help.... No, I don't tend to weight my daughter each week. But she happend to have gone to the cardiologist the week before she left for her dads and they weighed her. She has a benign heart murmur. Then when she got back, she was noticeably bigger. Her little shorts were tight against her thighs... and they were loose when she left. Her stomach looked really distended as well. So thats why out of curiosity, I weighed her. Thats when I discovered she went from 34 lbs to 36.5 lbs in 8 days time.

I don't really believe in scales and never weight myself really. I just know how my clothes fit. But when I saw her clothes that tight against her after only a few days time, I was deinfitely curious how much weight she had gained.

I was thinking she might be due for a growth spurt and like you said it just happened to be at the same time she was at her dads. She has no limits at her dads so I emailed him (we don't have constructive conversations) and told him she has to have boundries and it needs to be consistent...

I just know there has to be other people that are battling the same issues, and I am a solution-oriented person.... kind of like a guy... I just want to "fix it". haha

Taylor - posted on 07/23/2012

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Well i can imagine you knowing the general weight of your kids jodi. But 8 lbs on a kid is also enough to take notice esp if you follow nutrition religiously.

Taylor - posted on 07/23/2012

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I think you should look at what daddy is feeding her to be honest. I think you need to sit them down and let them know the foods you want her to eat. If they don't agree then simply send food with her for them to prepare.

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