Chubby, squishy, big, filling out…I’m not talking about us mamas, I wouldn’t be so cruel – we’re all shapes and sizes, and that’s OK. But why do so many people feel it’s acceptable to use these words when talking about our babies?
We’ve just got back from our first holiday abroad, and although everyone loved the ‘happy bebe’, I lost count of how many times I heard, “he’s one, yes?”…actually no, he’s only eight months…”oh he’s a big baby then! Haha”. That got me thinking, when exactly did it become acceptable for everyone (and not just people we met on holiday) to comment and laugh at a child’s weight?
I’ve had enough. Enough of always justifying the size and weight of my baby. No, he’s not fat, he’s healthy. Yes, he’s growing and getting bigger but really, why is that a shock to you? Do you think he will stay this small forever? Really? Come on, don’t be crazy. If he wasn’t putting on weight would you be as quick to judge and comment?
Little N was born at 40+4 and a healthy 7lb 1.5oz, a little small, but perfect in every way and able to leave hospital without any concerns about his weight. But the first few months we struggled, his weight was consistently at the 9th percentile, and although he was putting on weight, it wasn’t in line with the graphs. Even though it felt like I was constantly feeding him, it never seemed enough. He was never near the ‘average’, always a little too small, a little too underweight and as a new mama that scared me.
I felt a lot of pressure to get his weight up, even though he was a happy and healthy baby. But I beat myself up that I couldn’t ‘fatten him up’ and make sure he wasn’t a ‘less than average’ baby on the percentiles. So I gave up breastfeeding. I felt I had no choice.
Looking back now, I’m angry at myself for feeling like a failure. I never starved him. When he was hungry I fed him, when he wasn’t I tried anyway – because that’s what us first time mamas do with a crying baby – try everything. Is he wet, too hot, too cold, hungry or need winding…the mantra I repeated to myself over and over.
But really, he’s a baby, why does it matter how much he weighs this week – i’m not feeding him sweets, fizzy pop or burgers…he drinks milk. Breast milk or formula, it’s milk. It’s what he needs to survive.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s important, especially for high risk babies, to monitor their weight and ensure that they are developing as expected, and to catch it early if they’re not – I have no issue with attending regular clinics to have little N weighed.
What I don’t agree with is why other people think it’s acceptable to comment. Even at eight months old little N is still ‘less than average’…he’s not ‘chubby or big’ he’s growing. He’s healthy.
I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’ve been guilty of it myself when catching up with friends and their little ones, and I kick myself for it. I’m sorry. I don’t ever mean that your baby is too tiny or too big, they’re at a different point in their life to little N and either I can’t remember when he was that small, or I can’t believe it’s not going to be long until he reaches the same height and weight. It’s a comparison, not a criticism.
Is it just me mamas? Am I being over sensitive? Shouldn’t we be praised, rather than feel like we are being judged for helping our little ones to grow?
If anyone wants to pass judgement on little N’s weight – which is effectively what you’re doing, then don’t. Just don’t.