Guest blogger Jessica Katz: I was recently in a baby group wherein one of the mothers said that she had put her son on a diet. Her son was 7 months old at the time, and everyone's jaw dropped. The kid was husky, but by no means obese. His mom said he was "too hungry all of the time," though, so she was putting plain water in his bottles instead of breast milk. She didn't want a "fat kid," as she put it.
As shocking as it sounded to me at the time, I've since learned that putting babies on diets is fairly common. People get caught up in a baby's growth percentile and are disappointed when they have bigger babies. While most of us love the idea of a chubby baby with rippled little thighs and a Buddha belly, a high percentage of mothers apparently become alarmed by their babies' size and try to keep the kids' caloric intake down to slow down their growth -- a diet for babies!
Anyway, this mom was repulsed by the idea of having a fat baby. She was extremely thin herself; she later confessed that she had even been afraid to get pregnant because she didn't want to get fat. Obviously, she was projecting her body issues onto her son. She was afraid of what was happening to him. And her course of action -- replacing food with water -- was very unhealthy.
In fact, babies are the healthiest of all eaters. They don't have late-night cravings or eat because they are sad or mad. They eat when they are hungry, and it is instinctual. While some babies do nurse a breast or bottle for comfort, they certainly don't do it enough to cause obesity. So a diet wasn't the answer for this poor little guy.
After this mom's friends intervened, she wisely decided to see a therapist rather than continue her baby's diet.