Talking Chub

Maya was not a preemie, she was just a baby on the smallish side — proportionally small. (See her first bath pic on the right)

Yet often when we’re out and about and people ask how old she is, they’re surprised to find out she’s five weeks and always, always, always comment on what a “peanut” she is and/or ask how much she weighed at birth.

I know they don’t mean anything by it … and it doesn’t particularly bother my husband. But it often makes me feel a bit uncomfortable as the mother, the milk provider, if you will — as though she’s still too tiny for her age.

So we’ve been doing weekly weigh-ins and in the past two weeks, Maya went from 6 lbs 7.5 oz to 7 lbs 2 oz … to 7 lbs 11 oz today (yes, many babies weigh more than that at birth, I know! Meh.)

Anyway, woo hoo: she’s growing!

Clearly, supplementing with formula has really helped, since my milk production alone wasn’t meeting her demands. I’m still nursing and/or pumping and so she’s getting about 8-12 oz of formula a day in conjunction with that.

And though she was a bit on the skinny side at birth … she’s really filling out now, which is beautiful to see.

Which brings me to today’s blog post.

Last night after her bath (see pic to the left) my husband and I were commenting to each other (and cooing to her!) about how absolutely adorably chubby her little legs are getting. Then my husband noted she has a little Buddha belly forming and we were marveling about how our little “Hope Floats” baby girl was growing before our eyes.

Now, all of this probably sounds like innocuous parent-speak, but afterward, I got to thinking about it and how — not that she can hear or understand what we’re saying now — because we live in a fat-fearing, obesity-plagued society, those words that are so cute now could feel like a weapon to a little girl later in life.

Does it mean we will stop saying these things to each other about her? Of course not! Babies should be chubby and cherub-like — and Maya is finally getting there.

But I’m sharing this experience because though I wish it didn’t, it did give me pause, as a woman who has had body image issues … I certainly don’t want to give Maya a complex and don’t want her to feel judged in any way, shape or form.

I guess the bigger question is, when did “chubby” become a bad word to describe a baby? Because truly, it shouldn’t be. Maybe it is my own issue? I dunno — I’d be interested to hear other readers’ takes.

Ultimately, I think it’s something I’ll just need to really be careful about going forward as she gets older (particularly the tween/pre-teen years) — not being too cautious, but also being mindful that, as parents, our words can be very, very powerful … it’s going to be quite the adventure!

How about you? Do you watch your words in front of small children? How early did you begin being concerned about the power of your words (real or perceived?)

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6 thoughts on “Talking Chub

  1. I think about this a lot. Nate is big for his age – consistently in the 90-95% range for height and weight – and I’m always paranoid that someone is thinking he’s so chubby because Tom and I are overweight so clearly he will be AND we must be overfeeding him. I only share his stats with pride with my family because I fear being judged elsewhere. Meanwhile, it is completely normal for an 8 mth old to be chubby – to have thigh rolls and a big gut. They generally trim down when they start walking because they start burning more calories. I know all this – but still, that little voice in my head…

    I haven’t fully thought out how I’m going to handle weight/health issues with Nate. Ideally I’d like there to be very little weight/size talk at home and good displays of healthy relationships with food, but that’s going to take effort (and constant reminding to my husband who’s always talking about how he’s fat but then eats junk).

    My sister’s daughter is kind of like Maya. She’s always 25% on her charts but before she started walking, she was mega chubby – had the most thigh rolls I ever saw. Now she has none but it still tiny. She’s 6 mths older than Nate but is the same height and weighs a few pounds less. Everyone refers to her as a little peanut or “she’s such a little girl” and that always makes me worry about what’ll happen later.

    I think as long as we try our best to be conscious of what we say and what behavior we display, we’re on the right road.

    1. Candice, we’re at opposite ends of the spectrum it seems–Maya is in the 5th percentile–though hopefully not for long! I LOVE your pics of Nate and he DOES NOT look “big” to me at all!! I think it’s hard not to worry no matter which side of the spectrum we’re on. I worry people think I’m starving my kid; you worry they think you’re over-feeding yours. No matter what, it’s only our business, yet people DO comment and say stuff and it’s hard, isn’t it? Sigh!!

      Exactly–we just need to remember to be mindful and lead by example… it’s all we can do!

  2. What annoys me the most about this is people even need to comment at all? I think I’m going to make buttons for my twins that say, “Don’t ask about my twins.” Geez. I have no idea why people can’t just keep their mouths shut! I get it all the time as a pregnant women, and I see it just goes on and on. Women just love opening their mouths whenever they can. Oh boy. Looks like this triggered something for me. lol

  3. Exactly, Jods–but they DO … that’s the thing. Pregnancy is like an excuse for people to have commentary and then once the baby is here (or babies in your case) it’s like HELLO world, analyze me. Frustrating at times, but we have to remember people DO mean well … it just is hard when they don’t know the context.

  4. When someone comments on the chubbiness of a baby, I alwasy reply, “Babies are SUPPOSED to be chubby.” Neither of my daughters is overweight, but I am very conscious of what I say in front of them about myself, about them, and about others. We’ve had conversations about family members being very obese, and I usually try to say something mild like, “Well, some people are small and some people are large. We don’t love _____ any less just because she’s large, do we?” They realize that no, they don’t, and we move on. Unfortunately, my 13-year-old is already dissatisfied with her body (though not terribly) and is very aware of what people at school eat and what they weigh. Apparently, weight is a major topic of conversation at lunchtime. Sigh.

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