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Chubby Babies and Fat Kids

January 31, 2014

It never ceases to amaze me the difference in language between speaking about a fat child and a fat baby. One of my jobs is at a pet store right now (and I’ll leave the hype around obesity in pets for another day) and the other job is at a well-known children’s clothing store. All day long I have parents, grandparents and their children in and out. and when it comes to shopping for a fat baby versus a fat child the language, both verbal and physical, is quite different.

Parents shopping for a chubby baby, with cherub cheeks and wrist rolls and big gummy smiles, are proud of their baby’s size. They marvel at how much they’ve grown in such a short time and happily browse through the racks looking for the next size up, or even two sizes. Having had two big babies myself I commiserate and shop with them.

A caucasian baby with brown hair looks at the camera

Katherine at 6 months. Cheeeks!

Parents, and especially grandparents, who are shopping for an older child of five or six or older, are less inclined to my help. When I ask what age they are and/or what size (at my store, sizing is done in relation to age) and the child is larger than they “should” be, the shopper is often embarassed, especially if they’re looking for girl’s clothing. Their body language changes — they shrug or turn away from me slightly, they wont look me in the face as much, and they don’t want to talk about the child in the same way the parents of chubby babies do.

When this happens, I try to make the shopping experience fun and throw in some Body Acceptance talk while I can, making sure to say that “it takes all sizes to make the world” or “I’ll bet it doesn’t slow them down in the slightest” or some other positive comment. So many parents and grandparents and, of course, even the kids themselves, have been drinking the Obesity Epidemic Kool-Aid that I know my few words here and there wont make a big difference, but if it gives those parents and grandparents pause even once then it’s worth the effort.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. fab@57 permalink
    January 31, 2014 1:05 pm

    I love that you try to put parents and grandparents at ease! You’ve got a tender heart. 🙂
    I had three kids – All big babies, (8.5 – 9 lbs, 22.5 -23.5 long). My youngest is 30, so we’re going back a ways.
    I’m shocked today the way people talk about “fat babies” and how they are doomed to fatness forever. In generations past, babies were supposed to be soft, round and ‘healthy’ looking. No one showed off a “skinny” baby with pride! But now, it’s sooo different. The body shaming and disappointment begins so so young- in toddler stage! Very sad.

  2. vesta44 permalink
    January 31, 2014 1:30 pm

    My son is now 38, and when he was born he weighed 9 lbs, 7 oz and was 21.5 inches long. When the nurse brought him in to see me, she told me she wasn’t bringing me a baby, she was bringing me a toddler. And back then, when we were out and about, people were amazed when they asked me how old he was and I told them 2 weeks, a month, 2 months, etc. Up until he started walking, everyone thought he was older than he actually was because he was so big compared to most other babies. But no one ever said that he was too fat. The difference in how babies and toddlers are looked at, as far as weight goes, just breaks my heart. No child should ever be ashamed of their size, and no child should ever hear any comments that disparage them because of it.

  3. January 31, 2014 2:14 pm

    Interesting observations and very troublesome.


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