While baby fat is an endearing term for the pudgy rolls on young children, failing to lose this weight can lead to health problems. While many babies lose weight when they become active toddlers, others tend to carry the extra weight for years, sometimes leading to obesity during later childhood and into adulthood.
Obesity has trickled down to children. About 10 percent of children under the age of 2 are overweight and about 12 percent of children between 2 and 5 years of age are obese, according to the American Diabetes Association. Babies carry different amounts of fat at different stages of development. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend screening children for obesity beginning at 2 years of age.
Your pediatrician may use a graph to chart your child’s growth and his body mass index to compare it with other children his age. Although a standard BMI chart doesn’t measure your child’s fat directly, it can help your pediatrician determine whether your child fits into a weight category that may carry an increased risk of health problems.
Discovery News warns that obesity early in life raises the risk of many health concerns, including diabetes, heart problems and psychological distress. Too much body fat at a young age may also delay your baby’s crawling and walking.
Mothers-to-be should monitor their weight gain during pregnancy to avoid excess weight in newborns says MayoClinic.com. While you shouldn’t put your baby on a weight loss diet without your doctor’s advice, you can avoid excess calories by breastfeeding your baby as long as possible, withholding juice until she is 6 months old and limiting her consumption to 4 oz. each day.
While a nutritious diet can help your child maintain a healthy weight, cutting calories at a young age may limit his intake of fat, a necessary element that supports growth. Babies need a diet high in fat, says MayoClinic.com. Although fat may get a bad rap, dietary fat helps to insulate the nerve fibers in your child’s brain and spinal cord. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about any concerns you have regarding your child’s weight.