Chubby 3-year-old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 02-10-2011, 10:53 PM - Thread Starter
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DD just had her birthday and well check and came in at 34 lbs. and 36 inches tall. The only thing surprising to me was her height, which was about an inch shorter than I thought it would be. 


I've been concerned about DD's weight for more than a year now. She has a belly and has never had the slowdown in weight gain or appetite that I've seen described for kids over 2. She has now reversed her percentiles from when she was a year old, which she was in the 75th percentile for height and the 20th percentile for weight. 


We feed her very well. Sweets are a once-a-week thing or for special occasions and that includes juice. She drinks water or a cup or two of goat milk a day. We basically follow a TF diet, but in the past few months, I've started to really cut back on butter, buy low-fat goat milk instead of whole, limit cheese, fattier meat, etc. I'm starting to wonder if a) TF really are a good idea for her and b) if something else medically is going on here. 


Lately she's been complaining about being hungry all the time. She eats and has always eaten relatively large portions of food with few exceptions. She has seemed more tired than usual, but considering her large appetite, I don't think she has a thyroid issue. I am suspecting a hypoglycemia just based on her fatigue and constant hunger, but I'm already pretty careful to serve a protein at every meal. 


I was a very chubby toddler and didn't really thin out until I got to school, so perhaps she just comes by this naturally? I'm not entirely convinced I was fed a particularly good diet when I was young, though. The ped. says we should keep an eye on it, but didn't seem overly concerned, but I am. 

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#2 of 16 Old 02-11-2011, 05:24 AM
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Honestly, I would not be concerned in the slightest.  An easy "average" for toddlers is having the same # in weight as # of inches tall.  Your DD is actually taller than that average.  If her appetite is ferocious, she's probably going through a growth spurt.  I would keep feeding her protein and full fat to try to keep her full.  As far as her belly goes, that is normal for some people.  My ODD didn't grow out of her belly until this year (she's 7).  People are all built differently and if you were the same way, there's a good chance she will follow directly in your footsteps.

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#3 of 16 Old 02-11-2011, 05:37 AM
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Is your ped concerned?  I'm sure he/she would have mentioned it while you were there if they were.  I personally would not consider cutting out fat at such a young age, as long as she's eating healthy fats and it sounds like she is.   The extra tiredness could well be the result of a growth spurt, although if you're concerned, blood work can rule out thyroid issues.

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#4 of 16 Old 02-11-2011, 07:49 AM
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That sounds like a perfectly healthy, solid stature! I would most definitely NOT cut out any fat (definitely don't use reduced fat milk - you NEED all the fat to keep from getting blood sugar swings from the lactose, which is a sugar), in fact I would make sure she is getting at least 1 teaspoon per serving of veggies (or grains). Fat is very important for brain development, which is happening at lightning speed at this age!

I have had nurses haphazardly measure dd's height (the last one didn't even have her take off her shoes?!), so if you measure a different height at home, I'd think that was more accurate.

The main thing I always mention in regards to hunger and a bloated belly is celiac disease (especially if fatigue is involved) - so if you are very concerned I'd get her tested for celiac disease (gluten intolerance presents the same way and their is no accurate test for that besides elimination).

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#5 of 16 Old 02-11-2011, 08:59 AM
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There's nothing in her height, weight or belly that sounds worrying to me. I find bellies to be very common in toddlers, even somewhat older children (dd1 is 7.5, and very slim, but her build includes a little bit of a belly - I don't really notice it, except at ballet, though).


DId your dd start complaining about hunger and sleeping more before or after you started cutting down the fat in her diet? She sounds like a child building up to a growth spurt to me. That can require a lot of food.

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#6 of 16 Old 02-11-2011, 06:20 PM
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My super skinny 5 year old nephew (eats traditional sad diet) has a huge belly.  I think it's normal for a child that age to have a belly.  Where else are they going to put all of their intestines and organs??  Your DD is only slightly larger than my 2 yr old DS.  I think she's very normal and healthy.  I would so not switch to low fat foods, all this will cause is weight gain due to blood sugar.  I would also agree that celiacs should be tested if you're concerned.  FWIW  My DS is ALWAYS hungry!  He would eat all day if I let him.  Don't worry, they're growing so fast they need all that energy!

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#7 of 16 Old 02-11-2011, 09:55 PM
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That she's dealing with hunger/fatigue at the same time you're cutting back fat/protein is rather telling.  She needs that fat/protein as her fuel.  If you're going to cut anything out, let it be the grains.  That's much more likely to cause problems (like hypoglycemia swings). 


I would not be concerned with those numbers at 3.  My 16 mo is 27 lbs and 31/32 inches tall, so that sounds just perfect to me. 

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#8 of 16 Old 02-13-2011, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the comments. They are reassuring, if not a bit confusing. Should I just completely ignore growth charts? 


I haven't reduced the amount of protein she is offered and, if anything, I've increased it. More (leaner) meat, nuts, legumes, etc. I have reduced the amount of fat she is offered because I don't see any increase in satiety from her; in fact, she usually wants to consume more of the fattier items because, well, they taste good!


I do think it's worth looking at grains. My mother is hypoglycemic, I'm pretty sure I am and after watching her pretty closely over the past few days, I'm starting to think she might be, too. We don't usually eat a lot of grains, but(!) my husband has been on a bread-baking kick lately and we've been eating more (albeit, whole wheat) bread as a result. I've been tinkering with the idea of going wheat or gluten free for awhile to see if my husband and I will have an easier time losing weight. He's not looking forward to it -- he loves bread -- but I got him agree to try it this spring. 


I also think I need to be pushing fluids more. I don't think she's drinking enough water and is mistaking thirst for hunger sometimes. Getting her to drink water sometimes is a real battle, though. 

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#9 of 16 Old 02-13-2011, 06:15 PM
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I think your DD sounds completely normal.  I also think it is important to a lot of fat, especially for children to build brains and all kinds of cells.  It is essential.  I think you are maybe zeroing in on 'possible issues' and there aren't any.  YOu say yourself that you were chubby until what, 7 or 8?  Let is all go and don't worry so much.  I think it is important to be mindful but kids get chubby then grow, get chubby then grow. 

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#10 of 16 Old 02-13-2011, 07:48 PM
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Hi!  Your DD height and weight are exactly the same as my 2.5 yr old DD.  She is way up there on the charts, but she looks normal, is super active and loves all sorts of healthy foods.  She does have a big appetite, but she pretty much never gets sick even though she's around a lot of other kids, and I think it's partially due to her nutrient intake. 


It's hard not to worry about it, but I just have to trust that I'm feeding her good, unprocessed food.  We do keep a pretty close eye on the carb intake, but honestly, you see other kids eating junk all day long and they could be stout or skinny.  I think it's mostly just genetic.

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#11 of 16 Old 02-14-2011, 08:28 AM
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Do NOT restrict fats.  fats are essential to her growth and development and are healthy.  If you restrict anything let it be the carbs like bread, potatoes etc.  carbs are not essential and can cause excessive hunger and weight gain in those who have strong insulin response.

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#12 of 16 Old 02-17-2011, 11:50 AM
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you've goten all good advice.  if your dd craves fatty foods then she probly needs them.  in my experience healthily fed kids eat waaaaaaaaay more than regular fed kids.   i think cuz they are not bloated from sugar and white flour and skim milk and imposible to digest fats all the time.  I have 1 kid with a belly and 2 without.  they all eat similarly though.  if your 3 yr old is your first she'll seem awefully big to you.  but really 3 is a baby and baby fat is normal at 3. 

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#13 of 16 Old 02-19-2011, 05:42 PM
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That's exactly the size my son was when he turned 2 and he's not chubby at all. Of course he has a belly but at this age the belly is not from fat but due to the fact the digestive system is growing faster than the rest of their body

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#14 of 16 Old 02-20-2011, 11:34 AM
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My 3yo DD is around the same size as yours. What you have to remember about growth charts is that you will not always see a steady line because kids grow up and out in spurts, and also the way they got those charts was by sampling children who were more than likely on the SAD diet. Of course what's normal as far as their hight and weight is not going to be the same as someone fed more nutritious food What you are describing for her height and weight sounds perfectly normal and lots of kids have that belly at that age and older, it's not dangerous, if anything I'd say it's reassuring since you had a similar build at her age. Please please please do not restrict her fats, she needs them so much right now, especially with the uptake in grains. It does sound like she's gearing up for a growth spurt.  Kids fed a TF diet tend to have denser bones, too, I've read. My little one does seem built very sturdy compared to a lot of the kids we've come across. The only thing even remotely worrying in your description of her is the chronic lethargy and hunger. I would try returning to a full fat diet for awhile and cutting down the grains and seeing if her fatigue goes away. 

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#15 of 16 Old 02-22-2011, 11:34 AM
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My DD had a belly and chubby arms and legs even though she was always on the small side-like she always wore (still does) a size smaller clothing than she "should" have for her age. Around age 6 she really thinned out. Now I miss her chubbiness-she looks too much like a "big kid" now :(


For trying to get your DD to drink more water, have you tried putting lemon or orange slices or other small fruits in it? For some reason my DD doesn't really like to drink water unless I put some kind of fruit slice in it...weirdo :) It doesn't even really change the taste, but hey, it gets her to drink it.

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#16 of 16 Old 09-21-2014, 10:01 AM
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response to this old thread

Hello to all! This is an old thread but caught my interest. I'm not sure if anyone will even get this but I am just curious, it's now about 2.5 years later - to the original poster - how is it working out? Is your DD still on the chubby side or did she thin out? My DD sounds very similar to what you described in your post. I have been a little concerned for a while now but I'm waiting for her 3 year appointment in a couple weeks to check in with her pediatrician.
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