Ghazala Yousuf, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian, The Portland Hospital
Q. Can babies become overweight?
It is often seen that babies who gain weight quickly during infancy often start to slim down once they become more mobile. As toddlers they can be very picky eaters and/or become almost too ‘busy’ to take the time to eat. The fat laid down in infancy ensures that there are ample stores to pull from during the active toddler years.
If you are worried about your baby gaining too much weight then a full growth assessment should be carried by health care professionals in order to make sure your child really is overweight.
Here are a few tips:
Avoids solids for 4-6 months (this is especially helpful for babies who come from a family with a history of obesity).
Once you start solids, add them slowly to your baby’s diet. Avoid snacks that are high in calories or drinking empty calories such as sugary juices.
Allow your child to eat to appetite – don’t push your child to continue eating when he is not hungry. Some infants will reflexively take whatever you offer them on a spoon even if they are not hungry. Allowing your child to dictate his own intake makes him less likely to overeat.
Once your baby becomes more active, allow him plenty of time to play and move around.
During pregnancy, the mother’s health, such as her pregnancy weight gain and gestational diabetes, are also risk factors of the baby’s obesity.
The good news is that this is an ideal age to make lifestyle changes. Parents and adults have more control over what infants eat, compared with older children.