One reason parent’s usually are concerned with their child’s eating is because they want their children to be taller or weight more or less. Many parents have this belief that if they can feed their child more (or less) their child will be (what they consider) tall or be their (envisioned) body size and structure. In Asia, there is this cultural pressure for a baby to have generous rolls as quickly as they can, but once a child is a toddler, parents prefer their child to be slim and tall.
The reality is, although a parent can influence a child’s weight, by using some feeding strategies which will cause children to lose the ability to self regulate, which will cause a child to be more prone to be overweight or develop eating disorders in the future, genetics dictates your child’s optimal height and body structure.
As a parent, it can be challenging when you are trying to do your best for your child, but receive negative comments or input from those who are close to you – be it family members or friends. I recently spoke with a mom who received many negative comments from her family when she stopped giving her petite daughter milk before sleeping, a friend was commenting about how their child has been the same weight for 3 years, and another was commenting about how short their child is.
The medical community usually goes by growth charts and it is deemed that a child is growing normally when they follow their curve. It is when a child stops growing according to their curve that alarm bells sometimes go off. There are challenges to this, as infants often are squirmy and although weight may be reliable, height is often not. Personally, my LO’s birth weight has been questioned as I received IV fluids for an extended period prior to his arrival, it became suspected that he was overhydrated when he was born, thus his weight was higher than it should have been. I encourage parents to take height and weight as just one of the factors to ensuring their children are healthy. It is just one measurement of many that will tell you if your child is growing properly. There are a lot more like psychological, emotional, spiritual, communication, etc that should also be reviewed to ensure your child is developing appropriately. (If you have concerns, please consult a medical professional.) Parents often get caught up in the details, that they forget the end goal – to have a healthy, happy, autonomous child. So, next time you have a wave of concern that your child is not eating enough or is not (tall, heavy, slim, etc) <enter your concern here>, take a deep breath and appreciate all your child can do instead of taking those concerns out to try to get your child to eat another spoonful.