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Toddler overweight - when should we start to worry

(26 Posts)
crochetcircle Thu 20-Mar-14 21:44:51

Our DD was a big baby almost from the beginning. A normal birth weight (8lbs) but within a few days she was on the 98th centile for weight and she has stayed there ever since. She was ebf and I was very proud of her size!

She is now 33 months old and weighs 17.3 kg (98th centile). She is 94 cm tall (between 50th and 75th centime). This works out as a BMI of 19.6 which according to CDC growth charts makes her obese. We weighed her yesterday as we were both starting to feel a bit worried and I'm just looking for some advice about what to do next.

She doesn't look fat round her tummy (and of course we think she is beautiful) but her arms and legs are quite chubby and still look baby fat like.

Neither me nor my partner are overweight (both have BMI around 22). She is reasonably active (we don't have a telly, for example) and she eats pretty healthily - no crisps, chocolate, cakes and plenty of fruit and veg - although we have identified some things we can change it's not as if she is living on cheese and butter! We have started keeping a really close eye on portion sizes for her, and are also taking steps to get her more active throughout the day - such as not taking the buggy for her. But it's going to take ages for her weight to get back into the normal range as toddlers aren't supposed to lose weight.

I suppose I'm interested in whether anyone else has experienced this (big baby, then big toddler) and what happened next - did your child got thinner as they got older without action? Ot conversely, if you sought help and we advised to make changes did it work? Or do people thing I am worrying unnecessarily and we should just wait for her to get taller on her own?

Please be gentle as we are quite worried.

OP’s posts: |
happyyonisleepyyoni Thu 20-Mar-14 21:48:41

It's quite possible that she will shoot up in height and slim down, but really you should go to the GP and ask their advice, just in case there is an underlying health issue. Better to be on the safe side etc

crochetcircle Thu 20-Mar-14 21:50:58

Thanks happyyoni. Would you go for GP or HV do you think?

OP’s posts: |
phlossie Thu 20-Mar-14 21:52:54

My dd was pretty big - 75th centile born, 98th soon after and there she stayed. When she was breastfed I got the whole 'wow, you must have gold top' thing from the HVs, but once weaned they started tutting. I actually stopped getting her weighed - she was 15kg at 2yo, so probably similar to your dd.

When she was around four, though, she just shot up, and now aged 6 1/2yo, she is very tall and a 'healthy weight' for her age.

I'm not really sure when you should worry, but so long as she eats healthily most of the time and stays active, I'd say maybe not yet? But if you are worried, talk to your HV. One thing I was really conscious of, was not making a big deal of it with her - I didn't want her to think she was over-weight.

creamandsugar Thu 20-Mar-14 21:53:33

Go to both GP and hv. More advice the better.

Lioninthesun Thu 20-Mar-14 21:54:09

Please don't worry! DD was 10.1 when born and is still 91 centile for weight and 98 for height. She is over 2.5st and is now 2yrs 7 months. She is going to be tall. She still has slightly chubby legs but I have always noticed she gets a fatter face just before a growth spurt. Our 2.5yr HV check was great - even though her weight centile is slightly down on what it was she wasn't in the least worried as toddlers burn off so much when they start walking and running. I don't think you need to worry about 'obesity' for a couple of years yet at least. Better to know she is getting the right fats for her brain and organs to develop than to be worrying about anaemia or other health issues because DC won't eat!

purpleroses Thu 20-Mar-14 21:54:33

I would try talking to your health visitor and see what they say.

My DD was overweight (though not by much) from about the age of a year until she was 8. But in the last 2.5 years she's just gradually thinned out and is now bang on average. You're right it does take a long time to do it healthily. I'd say the main thing I've kept an eye on is portion size. She has an older brother, who's skinny so I have had to get her to accept that she doesn't get the same sized portions as him. And luckily she's always been very active.

I mentioned it once to the GP on her check-up but the GP thought she was fine (even though she was coming out overweight on the charts) But in your situation I think I would ask advice. But if you and your DP are slim and she grows up with your genes and your eating habits I think she's likely to slim out at some point. My friend had a really fat baby who turned out just to piling on the fat to turn into height - he was about the fattest 1 year old I'd ever seen. But then he shot up - he's now really tall, and thin.

Lioninthesun Thu 20-Mar-14 23:13:45

I remember a couple of girls at school who really thinned out between 10-14 so I personally wouldn't worry unless your 8yo is 8 stone etc but I am keen not to instil any eating issues on DD having seen the havoc parental issues with weight can rebound on peers.

FiveHoursSleep Thu 20-Mar-14 23:17:07

Please read this book.
I saw it recommended on MN when I was worrying about my bigger DD2 ( the other 3) are skinny to average and it makes so much sense and has really changed the way I think about feeding my children.
I wish I had read it when my children were your DD's age.

Sunnysummer Fri 21-Mar-14 00:02:41

What did your and your DH's growth patterns look like as children?

I think it is sensible just to check with your GP and HV, as you say we are not always the best judges of our own kids, they may well say nothing's wrong, so you can relax, or otherwise they may just want to check a few things.

Fwiw Id take the experiences of people who had big babies who became tall (without getting thin) with a pinch of salt, one issue is that overweight children do tend to gain height fast and going through puberty earlier - making their parents think that this is normal for them, when unfortunately it isn't ideal.

However it's most likely that your DD is fine and will grow up healthily, it sounds like you're doing a great job, and she'll pick up on your own healthy habits as she gets older

naty1 Fri 21-Mar-14 11:02:07

Did she gain weight when you switched to cows milk?
Could you switch to semi skimmed check with HV.
I suppose its true a healthy diet can make you overweight if you eat too much of it

ikeaismylocal Fri 21-Mar-14 20:33:22

My ds huge as a baby, 4.5 kg at birth and nearly 11 kg at 6 months.

I asked the Dr at his 6 months check when his weight would become a concern, she said not to worry until 5.

Ds just stopped putting on weight and now at 15 month's is only 11.5 and very average, it helped being told not to worry.

crochetcircle Sat 22-Mar-14 08:08:57

Thanks for all the replies. We've decided to consult our GP and see what they think. I haven't had great experiences with our HV locally. We are not mentioning anything to her at the moment. Of course we don't want her to think there is any issue.

Fivehoursleep - thanks for suggesting that book. I had a read of the summary and I can see how it makes sense. What do you think though - our DD would just eat and eat if we left her with a big plate of healthy food. Do you think that approach would work for her? Why do you wish you had seen it when your ones were little? What has your experience been since then.

Sunnysummer - I have always been slimmish, DH was overweight as a child until he was about 13 (and bullied at school as a result) but slimmed out as he grew up.

Lioninthesun - could you say a bit more about the issues parents can cause for their children when they themselves have issues with their size/diet. I want to consider this too in respect of my DH.

Naty1 - we switched to semi-skimmed milk when she turned 2 - isn't that the NHS advice for milk? But no, she hasn't had any periods of gaining weight specifically. She has tracked the 98th centile since she was a few days old which is why I'm not sure whether its an issue that she is still on the 98th centile now. Maybe she is meant to be bigger.

Thanks to all who posted your own experiences. It's so hard to keep the faith and just feed them according to your own instincts about the health of your child when there is so much stigma attached to being bigger, isn't it.

OP’s posts: |
FiveHoursSleep Sat 22-Mar-14 08:26:25

I have 1 tall and skinny child, 2 very average and one on the larger size. They all eat the same things.
All my children were over 10lbs when born, my smallest baby ( 10lbs 5 oz) is the largest build now. My largest ( 11lbs 10) is very average.
I have spent a lot of time worrying about the bigger one but after reading that book, I see it's obvious that some children are bigger and some are smaller ( otherwise we wouldn't have an average!).
A lot of larger young children do slim down as they get older, and there is nothing you can do about the ones that don't.
Food restriction makes things worse for children as it interrupts their natural eating patterns and makes them think they are wrong, and these are the children who really need to feel completely accepted by their parents.

BarbarianMum Sat 22-Mar-14 08:46:09

I think the key is to look at portion size if her diet is generally healthy. Some of us aren't very good at knowing when we are full plus you do get used to the portion you are given even if you don't actually need it.
Whilst I don't think you should actively worry at this point (or God forbid diet her) I'm not sure that assuming that time will sort this out. I have a friend w a 7 year old still waiting for the growth spurt that is going to transform her son from obese to slim.

ThisFenceIsComfy Sat 22-Mar-14 08:55:55

I was massive as a toddler. Massive.

I turned 5 and starred growing up and didn't put on any weight for a while and by 6, I was a skinny rake of a kid and have stayed that way.

That is ofc anecdotal but she's not 3 yet. You give her a healthy diet. Healthy for toddlers isn't fat or sugar free, just balanced. I wouldn't be worrying yet. Have a chat with your HV or GP next time you have the opportunity maybe if you feel it would put your mind at rest.

FiscalCliffRocksThisTown Sat 22-Mar-14 09:04:45

My youngest was a chubby baby and tot, but started thinning out when he was 5, now he is actually slim.

He cannot be allowed free access to the biscuit tin though! He seems to be always hungry and has a sweet tooth, it helps he does sport every day (! apart from Monday)

notjustamummythankyou Sat 22-Mar-14 09:14:52

My Ds was just under 9lb when he was born. He was ebf and put on a pound a week in his first month. Up to the age of about 3 he was pretty chunky, with a good tum and podgy little arms and legs.

Then it just melted away. He shot up in height, is still on 91st centile but everything has evened out. He's 4.5 and is a mass of long limbs and skinny ribs.

No harm in watching portion size obviously, but try not to worry too much smile

notjustamummythankyou Sat 22-Mar-14 09:20:44

Sorry, just to clarify, when I meant watching portion size, I mean to just to quickly check. I didn't mean doing that all the time as that would be a calorie controlled diet - I don't think your child needs to diet for one moment!

Artandco Sat 22-Mar-14 09:32:03

I think excercise is key. I have an almost 3 year old who hasn't used a buggy since around 18 months. So if you are still using daily at the same age it's probably a big difference. He can walk miles now, and is out daily riding his bike, climbing trees, on scooter, running about, playing football together etc etc. Would you say this is also typical day of your child or could it be increased?

FiscalCliffRocksThisTown Sat 22-Mar-14 10:34:58

I think kids this age need abouf 2 hrs of active running around a day

FiscalCliffRocksThisTown Sat 22-Mar-14 10:35:18

Ie, more than most people think

007licencetostandonamolehill Sat 22-Mar-14 16:14:26

What did she eat yesterday?

Lioninthesun Sat 22-Mar-14 21:42:15

I had a few peers with eating disorders - some from parents overly worried they would get fat if they ever had pudding or ate sweets, others where the mum or dad used to diet constantly and so their view of how they should be was very skewed and was all objective. I'm just very wary of labelling toddlers, as with every other label (naughty/lazy etc) they internalise it and it becomes them, rather than the other way around.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 23-Mar-14 02:17:44

I am a firm believer in they choose how much they eat, we choose what. If DD is hungry for cake not dinner, she isn't hungry. I also have a heavy but tall 3 yo and the trick with her is walking everywhere (no stroller since 18 months), exercise, running around, outdoor play every day, normally twice a day.

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