My son is turning 22 months in a couple of days, his birth weight was 2.9 kgs; as a first-time-mom I find myself comparing his weight to other toddlers his age and sex many times. Most of us Mothers never refer to our overweight babies as fat! Not to mention obese. Words like ‘big-boned,’ ‘chunky’ and ‘chubby’ are used instead. I have come to the conclusion sadly, that every mother wants to have a fat baby, which is always evident on our face expressions when suddenly we spot one. It’s certainly normal for babies to be chubby. Some moms believe their child’s excess weight is just baby fat. Majority are simply in denial blaming it all on family genes.
Childhood obesity, presents the same worrisome side effects as in adults — heart disease, diabetes, and cancer to name just a few. Obesity is more than a one-day challenge, though — which is likely why First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign continues to make headlines (you might have seen her jumping rope with Dr. Oz in mid-September).
Nonetheless, it is cause for alarm if babies gain weight rapidly in their first 1000 days of life. If your baby is gaining weight steadily 500-800 grams per month, it is a sign that they are feeding well. Since infants tend to carry different amounts of weight at different stages of development, making judgments about baby fat on the basis of appearance alone is not reliable. Weight assessment tools exists with most the prevalent one being the growth chart that shows measurements for height and weight. Remember , what matters most is the trend revealed on growth charts, not any particular index.
Despite babies’ need for high fat diet to support growth during their infancy, excess fat and calories can still be of concern. Most at risk are toddlers already on complementary family foods, because for exclusively breastfed babies, large portion servings are not a problem.
Still, it is not about low-fat diets coupled with high fibre food choices. Tummy time is important to promote receptive feeding. Correct feeding portions, sleep and activity will also help balance off the excess fat.
So what can you do in one single day to improve your child’s health? Here are 5 ideas to start with right now to set a healthy example for your kids — because remember, they’ll do what you do … not necessarily what you say.
1. Put Fitness First
It’s easier and more fun than you might think to fit fitness into your family’s routine. Start by planning one fitness-focused activity right now that you’ll do together this Saturday — whether it’s a bike ride, a hike , a dance contest or simply walking to a nearby store instead of driving (environmentally conscious too!). Try to make that Saturday fitness-focused event a weekly habit, and when it starts to stick, add another, like a weeknight game of tag or a family push up challenge.
2. Make Dinner Mandatory
It can be tempting to fall into the easy delivery option … and then everyone wanders off to do their own thing while they munch pizza. Plan ahead to have a few family meal nights every week — I love to write a weekly meal plan every Saturday morning, then hit the grocery store before anyone else is awake. If you lean toward easy weeknight meals, you might be surprise yourself and stick to it. (I always feel a little sense of accomplishment when I look back and see we ate every single meal I planned. Yay!
3. Hit the Sack — On Time
Go to bed on time, or even better 30 or 60 minutes early. Sleep has innumerable benefits for our bodies and minds — from better on-the-job performance to fewer pounds to carry around. What’s true for you is also true for your kids — by showing them that you value the importance of sleep, they’ll learn to do the same.
4. Take Your Supplement
With playdates and practices keeping the whole family busy, we know it’s not easy to fit three perfectly well-balanced meals into the daily routine. That’s where your insurance policy comes in — a daily multivitamin.
5. Plan Ahead for Temptation
Don’t let the candy smorgasbord (and all those empty calories) sneak up on you this year — instead, start making alternate plans now. Plan one sweet treat for everyone in the family once a week, instead of nightly or worse — mindless snacking.
Are there other things you’ll be doing starting today to help your child’s health — and yours? I would love to hear other ideas!