This may apply to all growth charts, but I only have experience with the “infant” ones – which run from birth until age 2.
I asked Wyatt to step on the scale at the doctor’s office the other day, and held my breath. The number I saw was lower than what our scale at home read a few days before. My palms started sweating, my heart raced, and I just prayed that his 18 month weight percentile would be “good”.
But what does “good” mean? I had a number in my head. I thought Wyatt would be around the 20% at this visit. He wasn’t.
4 days old, 5th percentile for weight.
For the rest of the checkup, we discussed Wyatt’s eating habits and I asked what I could do differently. His doctor told me to keep up what we have been doing (i.e., nursing) and we’d reevaluate when he turned two. “He really is doing well,” his pediatrician said. “I think he’s just going to be a small kid – both you and your husband are thin. ”
Panic. I don’t want my son to be small.
Confusion. We’re thin because we exercise, not because we have good genes. (Sorry mom and dad – you know it’s true!)
Guilt. Did I do this to him?
I had been feeling better about Wyatt’s eating habits before his 18 month appointment (as you can tell from this post last week). But then that number on the scale – and it’s subsequent plot on the growth chart – sent me into worry-mode again.
2 months old, 50th percentile for weight.
Like almost all of you reading this, there was a point in my life where I let a number on the scale dictate how I felt about myself. Which I now know is ridiculous. But here I am, letting a percentile on a growth chart control how I feel about my son’s health and development.
In general, growth charts are helpful. They’re indicators of health. Perhaps not the best measurement, but they are easy to use and non-invasive (kind of like BMI).
I’ve heard people say that it doesn’t matter where on the growth chart a child falls, but more importantly, if he stays on his curve.
4 months old, 60th percentile for weight.
Neither of these ways of thinking make much sense to me. Then why do doctors tell parents of the child who has always been in the 90% to switch from whole to 1% milk? And why do they encourage moms of small, breastfed babies to supplement with formula?
Then there’s my son. The kid who’s growth curve is all over the place – from negatively off the charts to the 60th percentile. But he’s “doing well”. Which I completely believe, but his growth chart says otherwise. (Obviously his doctor came to this conclusion based on more than just his growth chart. As the CDC says, growth charts are not meant to be used as a sole diagnostic tool.)
9 months old, off the weight charts (and just diagnosed with FPIES).
I’ll admit; I’m always a bit reluctant to say Wyatt’s percentiles out loud. I’m afraid if I share them people will tell me to stop nursing or remark how his size will put him at a disadvantage for sports. And I fear others saying that because part of me thinks that way, too. What if I didn’t breastfeed him? Everyone knows formula-fed babies are bigger. Would I feel better about Wyatt’s size if he was a girl? Who knew I was so sexist. Would I feel worse if his height was below average, too?
I wonder if mothers on the other side of the spectrum feel this way. In the beginning, I definitely think there’s some pride that goes along with having a bigger baby – I know I felt confident when Wyatt was in the 60th percentile (which we now know was the result of overeating to relieve his reflux). But at what point do parents start fearing that their bigger infants and toddlers will end up being overweight children? Or do they? Do parents of kids near the 50% ever worry about their child’s size? Or do they feel relief knowing their child is average?
12 months old, 10th percentile for weight.
All I know is that I'm putting too much weight into these growth charts (ha). Yes, my son is small – people tell me so every day. I’m doing the best I can, but I can’t force him to eat. I believe his weight at this point is like his height will always be – beyond my control.
Besides, there’s no guarantee that he’ll always be small. I like to remember when my brother was a child – one of the shortest kids in his class through freshman year of high school. He is now 6’5”. No one saw that coming.
And if Wyatt is always small, then so be it. I can think of far worse things in life than being lean.
18 months old and perfect.
I spent my graduate school career studying childhood obesity. I concentrated on what changes could be made at the policy level to thwart the epidemic, but I knew I had a personal responsibility, too. I remember sitting in a maternal and child health class, vigorously taking notes on how I could put my future children on the path to good health starting in infancy.
I had these grand plans on how I’d raise healthy little eaters...
Then I had Wyatt. The child who only wants to eat fruits and vegetables, and is constantly on the move. Obviously, he’s still young, but childhood obesity is now one of the furthest worries from my mind.
Getting my son to eat anything with fat in it and keep his weight up has been challenging. Most kids get plenty of fat in their diets through milk, but Wyatt will not drink milk of any kind unless it’s directly from the breast – he won’t even drink pumped breast milk anymore. He’s also not a huge cheese or yogurt fan – we went to froyo the other day and I could not get him to take a single bite! How is he my child?
I know this post won’t apply to most of you – and it’s the exact opposite of stuff I used to write back in grad school. But when you have a picky eater, one who will only eat 3-4 bites during most meals, you need to make every bite count. Here’s how I sneak in fat to my son’s diet (note: he cannot eat eggs and will not eat avocado or meat to save his life):
1. Peanut butter: I add it to smoothies and homemade muffins and breads. Wyatt won’t eat peanut butter sandwiches, but he’ll eat balls of peanut butter rolled in soft bread. For a quick snack, he just has a spoonful of peanut butter.
2. Nuts and seeds. We buy really hearty, grainy bread from local bread stores. I also add chopped almonds or sunflower seeds to his oatmeal.
3. Butter and olive oil: Wyatt is perfectly content eating veggies plain, and that’s awesome! But right now he needs the extra calories. I add butter or olive oil to all of his cooked vegetables, rice, and quinoa.
4. Full fat Greek yogurt: The only brand of Greek yogurt I’ve found that comes in full fat is Cabot. Wyatt won’t eat it on its own. I thin it out with lower fat, flavored Greek yogurt and add it to smoothies and baked goods.
5. 4% cottage cheese: Wyatt loves berries. Cottage cheese, on the other hand, he could take or leave. I give him a bowl of berries in cottage cheese. Even if he tries to avoid the curds, he still ends up eating some.
6. Milk. I can get my son to drink about 4oz of a smoothie (throughout the whole day) when I make it with coconut milk. I also make oatmeal with milk instead of water, and I soak his Puffins in milk before giving them to him to snack on (a bonus: they’re easier for him to chew this way, too).
7. Cheese. I add shredded cheese to broccoli and peas – he usually picks up some of the cheese when he goes to grab the veggie. I make small portions of quesadillas and grilled cheese – maybe 1/4 tortilla and a half piece of bread. But I use a normal amount of cheese. The cheese to bread ratio is a insane, but it works.
I know a lot of these seem backwards. Most parents add butter or cheese to veggies to make the vegetable seem more appealing – not the other way around! These tricks have been working for us, though. I won’t know his official stats until his 18 month checkup next week, but I weighed him on our scale yesterday and if that number is accurate, he’s in the 20/25th percentile!
Does anyone else have a picky eater? How do you add fat to his or her diet? I’ve also heard of other parents cooking veggies in cream-based soups. I haven’t tried that because most soups contain carrots and Wyatt is allergic to them.
We took Wyatt to Disney World for the first time when he was 9 months old. We didn’t do much that trip – we were only there for two nights. We went back for runDisney’s marathon weekend when he was 13 months old. We had a lot planned for that trip, but most of it didn’t happen because my son ended up in the hospital.
I learned a lot about doing Disney with a baby, though!
Disney perks for babies:
I don’t think I need to convince anyone that Disney is a great place to bring young children – they cater to families of all ages! Kids under 3 can get into the parks for free. Disney knows what parents of young children need, and they offer some pretty nice perks:
1. Baby care centers: There is one baby care center in each of the four parks – next to the first aid station near Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom, in the Odyssey in EPCOT, inside Guest Relations at the entrance of Hollywood Studios, and between the Tree of Life building and bridge to Africa in Animal Kingdom. These care centers are awesome. They offer an air-conditioned place to change and feed your baby. Complete with kitchens with microwaves to heat up food or formula, play areas for older children, and baby necessities – diapers, wipes, food, and pacifiers – available for purchase. Some care centers even have private rooms with rocking chairs for nursing.
2. Rider switch: Disney’s rider switch is awesome. From Disney’s website:
3. Babies can join you on the rides. You can let your baby ride on your lap on any ride that doesn’t have a height requirement or safety belt. Dumbo, Jungle Cruise, It’s a Small World, Winnie the Pooh, and Buzz Lightyear are some baby-friendly rides at Magic Kingdom.
4. Restaurants will purée food. We had to meet with the chef before every meal because of Wyatt’s food allergies (side note: Disney is super accommodating when it comes to food allergies). They always offered to purée food for him.
5. There are babysitters available (for a fee): For babies older than 6 months, Disney offers in-room childcare services through an independent childcare provider, Kids Night Out. So mom and dad can enjoy a date night (or race!). Or, you could just invite Grammy and Grampy to come along on your vacation. I guarantee they’ll have a good time!
6. Characters: Wyatt was scared of the characters during our first trip, but loved them during our second. I highly recommend scheduling a character meal or finding your favorite characters in the parks. It was so much fun to watch him interact with his new furry friends.
1. Wipe down everything the minute you walk into your hotel room. If you only listen to one tip, please let it be this one! Wyatt got norovirus in Disney – which resulted in a trip to the ER, a missed marathon and Goofy medal for me, and a very, very horrible two hours of nurses and doctors not being able to get an IV in my dehydrated little boy. I never want any parent to go through that, let alone on vacation. I was dumb and didn’t wipe down everything immediately upon entering the room. I should have cleaned the remote, door and drawer handles, edges of the table, phone, doorstops, and everything else Wyatt likes to chew on. Note: I do not think norovirus was Disney’s fault at all. It was a really big year for the illness and it’s super contagious, especially if you’re 13 months old and put everything in your mouth.
“Hey mom, watch me get norovirus!”
2. Take advantage of morning extra magic hours. Most days, Disney parks don’t open until 9:00 am – peak morning nap time for a lot of babies! If you stay on property, one park per day opens an hour earlier as part of extra magic hours. If you have an early riser like we do, getting to the park by 8am is no problem.
A bonus: parks aren’t as crowded in the early mornings.
3. Mind nap time. My son cannot skip naps and be expected to function well. Maybe yours can, so I guess this tip is more about knowing your baby. We knew that Wyatt can do well if he takes a short morning nap and long afternoon nap. If we waited until his midday awake time to head to the parks (he could only be awake for about 3- 3.5 hours tops back then), we would have really been pushing it and pressed for time. Instead, we hit the parks when they opened, let him take his morning snooze on the go, and headed back to the hotel after lunch so he could take a long afternoon nap in his crib.
4. Bring a stroller and a carrier. So far, Wyatt has napped in his stroller three times in his life. We ideally wanted him to nap in his stroller at the parks, but knew that probably wouldn’t happen. So we packed the Ergo too, and it did the trick. Note: if you’re in Disney for a runDisney event, strollers are not allowed in the expo. Bring those carriers!
5. Don’t overlook what the resorts have to offer. Wyatt was still a super crank at 9 months old, so we were not about to spend money on park tickets. Instead, we splurged on the hotel – we stayed at the Polynesian – and spent a lot of time there. Babies are allowed in resort pools (with swim diapers of course), and the Poly has a water play area which he loved. For the two days we were there, enjoying the resort and Downtown Disney was more than enough to do.
6. Consider getting a car. One of the perks of staying on property is the free bus service between the resorts and the parks. Unfortunately, sometimes the buses take a while and make multiple stops – it can literally take an hour between the time you leave your room and when you arrive at your destination. This is an eternity in baby time. In January, we had a car and it made things a lot easier. Note: most airlines allow you to check or gate check carseats for free.
7. Request a crib. Usually when you request a crib, you get a pack n’ play, which isn’t so great if your baby knows how to knock them over. Disney has cribs though – we landed one in January, but not September. Request it all over your reservation, cross your fingers, and pray you may get one!
Who else has done Disney with a baby? Share your tips below!