TODDLERS ARE NOT FAT! What do you think?

Mary Renee - posted on 04/22/2012 ( 10 moms have responded )




An experience happened today at a birthday party that really stuck with me and now I can't shake it.

My daughter is only one, although she'll be turning two in about a month. We were at the birthday party of a three year old when the conversation turned to size. This is fairly normal - when my daughter was a baby everyone talked about birth weight and percentiles.

But suddenly they were talking about her tummy. Like more than one mom mentioned it. I joked "Yes! She could eat 24 hours a day probably! Such a good little eater." I'm Italian. When I was little, being a good eater as a toddler was a thing deserving of praise. Yes, she has the whole poked out tummy that (I thought) was typical of her age group. But suddenly I felt the subtle and well-meaning sympathies from other moms like "Oh, she's chubby but she's not fat" and other things in this vein.

What?! I wasn't looking for sympathy. And maybe I'm being to sensitive but WHAT? "Fat" never crossed my mind and "Chubby" would only cross my mind as a term of endearment. She's not even two and already there's this expectation that toddlers are either fat or skinny and it's something we need to be consoled about.

I went home suddenly like, "Wait, should I be worried about her weight?" But no, it's ridiculous. First of all, she isn't fat or unhealthy. If anything, she's uber-healthy and when I say she can eat 24-7 it's mostly things like grapes and apple slices. The girl runs circles around the playground and can swim and do a pull-up already.

I understand that childhood obesity is on the rise but is this a thing now? Are we really going to get this crazy weight thing going on in girl's heads as young as 2 or even 1?

I was just shocked. I also remember sending hula outfit gifts to my nieces. It was a flower print halter top and a grass skirt. They sent me a photo of the older one wearing the outfit in front of the Christmas tree, but said the three year old didn't want her photo taken because her tummy sticks out.

WHAT!? She's three! Where are they getting these ideas from?

What do you ladies think? Do you see this sort of thing to? Why are our toddlers thinking about their weight? Why are we thinking about it, as long as they're healthy?

BTW, I LOVE my daughter's belly. It's a thing of beauty really, it's the most adorably kissable tummy I've ever seen.

And I know there are children that are actually unhealthily overweight, some have health issues and others unfortunately have either uneducated parents who are unaware of better nutritional choices, or poverty stricken and unable to afford healthier food. But I'm not talking about extreme cases. I'm talking about two year old's with their lovely round bellies.


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What?! First of all, our fellow moms can sometimes be utterly ridiculous with their criticism and comparisons! Baby belly is normal for all different sizes. For example, my 15 month old is in the 90th percentile for height but only the 40th for weight. So he is much thinner than MOST other kids his height. And even he has a belly that sticks out!! And round apple cheeks. He was very sick with RSV this winter and lost some weight to the point his doctor was concerned, and STILL his belly stuck out. Haha. There is a reason babies have fat stores! In my opinion weight doesn't even matter that much, kids are all built differently and carry their weight differently. The important thing is the weight-to-length ratio being at a healthy number. And if a child IS overweight for their stature, the parents shouldn't be mentally burdening a two or three year old with this issue!!! Just leading the child through a little lifestyle change-- following doctor's orders on it, feeding them healthier, and getting them more active in their daily play, etc. I agree, a three year old should never even have a thought about her belly being too big! But that can happen without anyone telling a child they're could also be pure imitation, the result of overhearing mommy worry over her own weight. So the issue isn't just with loving your child as they are and appreciating their delicious rolls and dimples, it's also about MODELING a positive self-image, which a lot of us tend to forget or overlook altogether because we don't think about our own personal body-image affecting our children.


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Ana - posted on 06/26/2014




Oh my God someone with sense, my daughter was about 10 months old when I enrolled her in gymbaroo then a mum asked me how old she is and I said 10 months she said oh Wow she is big and from then on I could hear comments so I became obsessed with her weight she is now 15 months and still chubby as they say and I get comments alllll the time I don't know what to do she eats very healthy and has a good appetite
I admire your strength of character and I feel sad

Josie - posted on 04/28/2012




Aww, that outfit sounds cute, just a regular belly halter. At 3, your niece should be so excited playing dress-up like all little girls, not conerned about about her tummy showing. BTW your little girl looks absolutely precious in your pic!!

My daughter has a few summer outfits similar to your nieces' and she doesn't mind wearing them (and no coconuts either, hehehe). Especially on a hot day for playing in the backyard with some of the neighborhood children, they are cute. Of course the 1st time I dressed her in one, her reaction was priceless, me and her aunt aunt still crack up about it today!!

I grew up too when kids were encouraged to be a good eater and finish their plate, so I know exactly where you are coming from.

Mary Renee - posted on 04/25/2012




The top was just like a Hawaiian flower print halter top. It came all the way up to the neck but only with down to an inch or two above the belly button so it was a mid drift. It wasn't any coconuts are anything! Hehehe.

I think it was almost a weird clash of cultures, even within America. My daughter's father (and my own father) are Italian so I was raised with the idea that a child that eats plenty and has a good appetite is one of the best things ever. It was so strange when I was sharing this fact about my daughter that I got met with condolences.

They're all really "fit" moms (and I'm fit as well, lost the baby weight in a reasonable 7 months and besides being pregnant I've been between 115 and 120 my entire adult life) but I'm not obsessive about it, I don't work out everyday, I just try to be reasonable with my diet an activity level. So to them, a large appetite might not be a good thing, it might be something one has to reckon with later. I don't know. It was just an unexpected reaction that through me off guard.

Josie - posted on 04/24/2012




Mary, I agree with you and Elfrieda. weight shouldn't be a concern for a toddler, they come in all sizes. To me, it's quite normal for most of them to have little round bellies. Its too bad the other moms even brought up childhood obesity, that is not even a concern for me at 2 years old, even up to 4 or 5.

My daughter just turned 3 and sounds pretty similar to the build of your daughter. She has started to slim down in her arms and legs when she left crawling and went into walking and running.

BTW, I don't mind and even love when someone says "Look at that Tummy!!, its so cute" when my daughter's is sticking out. Even she giggles, after she gets the tummy tweak or poke that follows. To me her smile is priceless. She used to get that with her chubby leg rolls when she was younger too and I never mined, I loved it!

Unfortunately, I know moms loved to compare their babies/toddlers to everyone else, so that is just life. But is a shame about your 3 year old would even be self conscious about her belly. It sounds like an adult got her to be that way and a 3 yo should never feel like that or even be a concern to her. I have to ask though, what was the costume top llok like? Not sure I have seen one of those, but any dress up on a girl that age is adorable!!

Mary Renee - posted on 04/22/2012




Elfrieda that's exactly on point with how I feel too! I love when people are like "Look at that tummy! So cute" or when she was younger and had chubby little legs like a cabbage patch doll. Those comments are totally fine, I like them, I make them about other babies too probably.

It's when I feel like they're offering condolences are trying to tell me "It's alright"... or like you said "She'll thin out" as if they're implying it's something to worry about. I know it's alright! She's not even 2!

And Tabitha, that's reminds me of my best friend's brother growing up. He was the tallest lankiest kid ever and everybody called him "Gordo." I always thought the nickname was just supposed to be funny or ironic or something but turns out they nicknamed him that when he was a baby because he was so chubby and then it stuck even as he got older and was the thinnest one between him and his two sisters.

Mrs. - posted on 04/22/2012




I've seen some truly overweight toddlers, but the whole big tummy thing....some kids have it, some don't. My kid has always had a bubble tummy since she was born and very underweight. It just depends on the shape of the kid's stomach.

There are some kids, though, sadly, who are three and seriously heavy due to eating and activity issues. I find most of those kids are from families where one or more of the parents are also seriously overweight.

However, your story just sounds like people being dicks.

Kaitlin - posted on 04/22/2012




My son is 2 1/2 and he weighs 38 lbs. To look at him he looks average- not even chubby, but he's heavy and solid. I mean, a toddler can be fat, but it's really obvious that they are not getting the right foods. toddlers are supposed to have big baby bellies.

Elfrieda - posted on 04/22/2012




That's terrible! But your daughter is lucky that you're not going to be encouraging that sort of thinking. I know 6-year-olds who worry about what kind of milk has too much fat in it. Where does she get that? Mom.

My son, when he was a baby (around 9 months) had the nickname "Mr. Round" because he was so fat I'll bet I could have bowled with that little porker! He was the cutest thing you've ever seen. And now he's 28 months old and still is chubby. To us he looks skinny because he's been 31 lbs for 6 months and has just been growing taller but not gaining weight, but he's still got the squeezable cheeks and round belly. I've gotten the "He's not fat, he's just chubby... he'll thin out." sympathetic remarks, too, when I joke about how much he eats. (as much as I do!)

I'm with you, I KNOW he'll thin out, and I sure don't need sympathy or reassurance. I've got a child who loves to eat healthy food and runs around all the time, there's no need to feel sorry for me or him!

edited to add: I don't mind when people say things like "Ahh! I want to squeeze those rolls!" or things like that, so I hope no one starts overthinking the comments they make to babies. It's just the judge-y tone that bothers me.

Tabitha - posted on 04/22/2012




How terrible that they made you feel that way! I agree, toddlers shouldn't be worried about how they look. Whether they're skinny or round. This is still baby fat anyway! It has no indication as to what their shape will be when they are older. My youngest son was the fattest baby I've ever seen, "mini sumo wrestler" is what we use to call him. But he's 11 now, he's tall and lanky, no fat on him anywhere.

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