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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ever since dd1 was a baby, we have taken a very AP approach to food. She was breastfed exclusively for almost 10 months before she took an interest in solids, and breastfed totally on demand up until age 2, at which point I got pregnant with dd2 and started putting limits on nursing, but she still nursed up until age 3 1/2 and just weaned about 6 weeks ago. We always tried to have mostly healthy foods and give her a variety of healthy foods and let her choose what and how much to eat. We never made a big deal out of food, never made her eat anything or finish anything, never eat this before that, no using food as a reward for anything, no clean your plate. We tried to do everything right. She didn't even have sweets until 18 months, because we just didn't eat them around her or give them to her. I tend to cook in what is considered a healthy way, not a lot of added fat or sugar, whole wheat pastas and breads, low-fat cheese, skim milk, no sugarly cereals, not a lot of processed or convenience foods. We did give her some snack foods, but not a lot and I would venture to guess that she has eaten much less goldfish and cookies and donut holes than many of her peers. She pretty much would only eat sweets or chips at parties or special occasions.

Around age 2, dd started to really like food. I mean really like it. She loves to eat, I think that is just her genetic make-up. And, because we were trying to be so healthy and laid-back we let her eat whatever she wanted, when she wanted and how much of it, and making sure that it was mostly healthy foods she had access too. She did eat some junk, but not a lot.

Well, dd is overweight, and I mean overweight, not just big-boned or sturdy. She is 3 1/2, about 42-43 inches tall and when we had her weighed at the dr's office 3 weeks ago, she weighed 56 pounds (fully dressed). Her height is at the top of the charts, but her weight is way off the charts. She is defintiely what Dr. Sears would describe as overfat. Has a very, very, very round, belly, she almost looks pregnant. You can see the fat on her, it isn't that she is just muscular or big-boned, she has a lot of extra fat on her. We had her blood checked for thryoid or other homonal problems, but they didn't find anything.

I think her problem is that she just LOVES to eat. Whenever she sees dh or I eating, she wants some (even if she wasn't hungry before)...and because we were trying to be so AP and not cause food issues, we gave it to her. Plus, she has a very quiet temperament. She is not an active kid and will spend long amounts of time just sitting lookng at books, playing computer, coloring, drawing. At the playground, she is kinda like Ferdinand
(you know, that story about the bull) and will slowly climb on the equipment or wander around picking flowers, or sit and dig in the dirt. She runs and plays some, but not as much as other kids I have noticed. The other day we were playing with a friend, and the friend is very skinny and she was up/down, wandering all over while dd was just sitting and playing/waiting for friend to come back by her.

For the last 8 months or so, we have made a big effort to make sure she gets some physical activity each day..we would take her to the playground, or swimming or hiking..something almost every day except for when it was pouring rain. However, as I said, even at the playground she isn't all that active. Lately (in the past 2 weeks), I have added a daily walk. We just moved to an area with lots of quiet streets and trails for walking on, so now we are making more of an effort to walk places, or just go on walks and we try to take her on a 45 minutes-hour- long walk each day. She loves music, so when it is playing, I encourage her to dance, however even then she is a slow dancer (slow twirls, slow spinning, just kinda waving along with the music not a lot of fast, hard dancing). All this is exhausting and it seems like a full-time job just to make sure she gets exercise and is active. I have been reading Dr. Sears LEAN kids and trying to implement a lot of his ideas. I get resentful, when it seems as though other kids can eat goldfish and donuts and cookies all day and their parents don't make any special efforts to get them execise (take them to the playground 1 or 2x/week is all), yet they are skinny kids and here I am spendiing 2-3 hours a day with her walking, playing at the playground, dancing. This is in addition to the other time we spend with her reading, learning letters, numbers (we are homeschooling), doing art projects, etc.) working on language and other skills

We also just put her on a gluten free/caesin free diet, since she had some autistic tendencies...and that is helping. I also think part of her problem is that she had a leaky gut and that gluten/caesin was leaking out of her gut and acting as opiates in her brain. So, we was eating huge amounts of things like whole wheat pasta, whole-grain cereal, etc. She has been on that diet for 6 weeks now, and we have noticed an improvement in her behavior, language, speech, potty skills, sleep habits. It is defintiely helping...although I think the damage has been done is that she learned to self-medicate with food and continues to do so and wants to eat a lot. I think she may still be looking for that feeling she got while eating gluten/caesin and isn't getting it because she isn't eating those foods anymore, but she still seems to be seeking it . She is ALWAYS saying she is hungry..even if she just ate.

I guess my question is, how can I help her develop a healthy attitude towards food? And, how can I help her reach a healthy weight. I don't know if we should just give her whatever foods she asks for (even if they are relatively healthy) because as I said, I don't think she knows how to self-regulate or tell when she is really hungry, I think she lost that ability some how. She seems to have gotten overfat on eating mostly healthy foods.

Sorry this is so long...I have been wanting to post this for awhile...just not sure how to word it.
 

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Quote:
I get resentful, when it seems as though other kids can eat goldfish and donuts and cookies all day and their parents don't make any special efforts to get them execise (take them to the playground 1 or 2x/week is all), yet they are skinny kids and here I am spendiing 2-3 hours a day with her walking, playing at the playground, dancing.
I have one of those "lean" kids. However, I want to tell you that she rarely gets food like you mentioned. Sometimes her playmates will share their stuff, and that is how she gets it. I have always had weight issues, and as a result I decided to learn good ways of eating in order to keep my daughters on a better perspective. As of yet, I have not allowed my 2 yo to have any type of suckers, taffy or other chewy, tooth rotting food. If she gets a treat, I give her high quality ice cream or high quality chocolate. I want her taste buds to learn to enjoy the finer sweets, rather than the low quality stuff.

One of the things I have done is to join Weight Watchers myself. Through following this plan, I have learned that my previous thoughts about what was "healthy eating" was way off target. The money I spent on WW has benefited our entire family. I have learned to put appropriate portions on all of our plates, and call it a meal when they have been eaten.

I wouldn't make weight loss an issue with my child in your shoes, rather I would just make sure to enforce rules like 3 meals, one snack and not allowing an all day feast to happen. I wouldn't even keep candy, cookies, goldfish in the cupboard, as it is too frustrating to say "no". My dd loves to snatch apples. However, if there is chocolate in the house, she is miserable and begs for it. If it isn't here, I simply say that it is gone and she relaxes.

I don't know if you personally have weight issues. But I will suggest that you never discuss your child's weight in front of her. Just keep promoting portion control, healthy eating and activity. I have a cousin who was always heavy, and as the years progressed, it became a part of her identity. If anyone talks about "D", it is always coupled with a comment about her weight. I believe the constant pressure on her about her weight has caused her to go overboard and is now extremely obese, diabetic, and continues to damage herself by not eating properly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I wasn't implying that anyone here feeds their kids junk, just that lots of kids we know do eat those types of foods, take their kids to mcdonalds a lot, yet their children are still skinny. We don't feed a lot of junk and hardly ever eat out, yet we do have this problem. Even people we know where the parents are overweight have skinny kids.

Both dh and I are somewhere between avg. weight to slighly overweight. We defintiely aren't skinny, but aren't really overweight either. My weight is right at the top end of normal for my height. I am not sure what dh weights or where he lies on the chart, but I am guessing it is around the top end of normal as well.

I think I have a good sense of what is healthy I spent a lot of time studying healthy eating when I was younger . Before we went gluten/caesin free we used to eat lots of chicken, whole wheat pasta, low-fat yogurt and cheese, fruits, veggies, lean ground beef, potatoes, brown/long grain rice, tofu, whole-grain cereal, eggs, whole-wheat bread etc. Most days we didn't give dd sweets or chips or anything like that. Snacks for her would be fruit or crackers, granola bars (but the kind without all the sugar, usually a more natural brnad). Now, it is the same except, no dairy, and we use gluten free pasta, breads, etc

Right now dd is eating wht we had for dinner last night, which is a casserole made of tofu, potato, kale, onions and spices....pretty healthy, right?? yet she is eating a good portion of it, and has been eating it all mornig.

I am not sure what you mean by portion control. I was under the impression that you should not control the portions of young children...so we dind't. We let dd eat as much of these healthy foods as she wanted.

We don't really discuess her weight in front of her and never really talk about, just try to keep her active and only give healthy foods. Sometimes if she asks for something to eat, I will ask her if she is "really hungry" or would she rather paint or color or read a story or blow bubbles., etc...to see if she is bored. Or I will ask her to wait and than see if she asks again or if she kinda forgets about it and gets busy with something else.
 

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I hope you didn't think I was implying that you were doing anything "wrong".


No matter how healthy of food is given, if more calories are consumed than burned, the weight will go up. However, each individual has a different metabolic setting. What I meant by portion control and mealtimes was to suggest cutting out the snacking in between meals, and giving balanced meals. It may be a difficult adjustment for her at first, but once you establish 3 meals and a snack, you will find that it is much easier.

I was just chatting with dh about how many calories I ate just taking a nibble here, and a nibble there. The same is true for our kids.

If my dd is hungry, I would never restrict her food...but that does not translate into making it available for her 24/7.

I hope you can find a way to help your dd develop good habits for her lifetime.
++++++++++++++++++++

On a side note, I do know that there is an extremely rare condition where children do not have the normal appetite control switch, and they just eat constantly. I hope that is not the case with your dd, but it might be worth investigating. Sorry, I don't know the name of it.
 

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I am interested in hearing the responses to this. My best friend has a 25 month old dd who weighs 41lbs. The girl is always hungry. Always. She may have just eaten a full (adult sized!) meal and then if she sees anyone with food she heads straight for it. I've never seen a kid like her. She is literally food obsessed ALL day long.

I saw previews for Dr Phil last week about a girl with Prader-Willi (sp?) Syndrome that causes a person to not respond to their own fullness cues to the point that they will eat all day long and become obese. I didn't see the show, but it made me wonder about my friend's dd.

:
 

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I hear your frustration and concern and it really sounds like you've tried to model and encourage a healthy attitude about food as well as naturally healthy eating habits.I just think some kids are "wired" differently and your daughter's response to food--both physically and emotionally--evolved differently than another child's might have. I agree with your idea that you shouldn't really control portions as long as the options are healthy. I was always chubby, and my mother stuck with that three square meals and a snack and I was determined not to pass that same obsession on to my children. My ds1 (age 6) starts eating at about 6am; he gets an Apple Walked into a Bar (from Trader Joe's), followed by a couple bowls of Joe's O's, followed by a hot breakfast (whole grain waffles, eggs, oatmeal with fruit and a little raw sugar...) and then he might continue to snack throughout the morning, maybe on leftover waffles, or whole grain crackers, or grape tomatoes, etc...he spends the afternoon running around with friends outside, popping back in for an apple or carrots or pretzels or sunflower seeds...he eats a tremendous amount of food, but he is in constant motion, too. He's not only skinny, he's muscular--his abdominal muscles are amazing. By evening, he's exhausted and his dinner is usually fairly small: a little whole grain pasta, some chicken, a couple veggies and he's been known to fall asleep in the middle of it and I never worry because he's eaten so well over the course of the day. My dd (age 10) eats **perhaps** just a little bit less; she doesn't eat as much in the morning, but she does have a huge hot breakfast and then she grazes all day (we homeschool) and she is tall and thin...but again, fairly active. They take after my husband; they metabolize their food very effectively. Fortunately, too, they usually choose to avoid junk, even with friends. If kids are outside with junk, my son will come in and ask for some carrots or an apple. They enjoy cake as much as the next kid, it's just not usually available and they recognize and comment that they don't feel good after eating junk--which is why they voluntarily avoid it.

All of this is to say that we haven't done things very much differently than you have; I think your instincts are right on target. I also think that going on a dairy-free/gluten-free diet may make all the difference, but it's going to take time. Her body may not have been able to metabolize those foods effectively and it will take time to see a significant change in weight--but you're already seeing a change in behavior, so you know it's doing something!!

I also think your efforts to stay active are really important! As far as feeling overwhelmed with adding the planned activities in with your homeschooling, can I make a gentle suggestion? For right now, relax the schooling. Sing on your walks, tell stories and recite nursery rhymes, make observations about the clouds, collect leaves and sticks and rocks, act out fairy tales... If you feel the need to work on letters and words and numbers, write in the dirt. Or make letters with your bodies, or with sticks. Make patterns with sticks and leaves and rocks. That way you can combine the learning with the physical activity and play, which is developmentally appropriate anyway.

It sounds, to me, like you're on the right track. It's just hard now, because it's a slow process, but I think you're doing great!!

Missy
 

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I'm not even remotely suggesting that your child (or anyone else's child on this board, for that matter) falls into this category--but there are conditions where children and adults have a hormone imbalance (or something like that) and they cannot control their impulses to eat.

Frankly, it sounds that you are doing everything right.
My dd has the opposite problem and would starve herself if we did not count calories and add where needed.
The average child at age three or four should be taking in between 900 calories to 1000 calories a day (more for more active and larger children).
If I were you, I would record calories for just a week, to see if there is any reason for concern. You'd be surprised how very little food a 1000 calories a day actually is!
Once I started doing this on a regular basis, I was surprised to learn how much we really do eat in our house--and how very little our dd eats!

Hang in there, I think I read somewhere not to worry until the age of five, which is when they slow down for a little while in height and weight.
 

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Sometimes its very hard for someone, especially a little kid, to tell if they are really still feeling hungry or if they are actually feeling thirsty. Trying having her take a big drink of water if she's still feeling hungry after eating or during the day and then see how she feels.
 

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I am just curious what you the Dr. said about your daughters weight? Did he suggest a pediatric nutritionist? Did he give you any advice? It sounds like you are doing a great job feeding her healthy foods! There must be a reason that she is so hungry and is gaining weight rapidly.
 

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"I get resentful, when it seems as though other kids can eat goldfish and donuts and cookies all day and their parents don't make any special efforts to get them execise (take them to the playground 1 or 2x/week is all), yet they are skinny kids and here I am spendiing 2-3 hours a day with her walking, playing at the playground, dancing."

Welcome to the unjust world of a fat person. :/

My boys eat virtually the same diet and the same amounts as each other, yet one is very slight and the other is heavy (I suspect he would be clinically regarded as overweight, but he's healthy and active, and personally I think he is at exactly the right weight for his age and body type.) They both love to eat. I have no doubt that if their diet consisted more of refined foods and carbs than it does, the one would still be slight but the other would become overweight. Genetics.

Anyway, iI were you I wouldn't give up on looking for a physiological cause, but in the meantime keep offering healthy foods, perferably ones with a low glycemic index (in other words, cut out the potatoes!,) and consider cutting out or down on the dairy too. I agree with PPs who have said to not let her be aware that you consider this a problem, it will only backfire. If there isn't an underlying disorder and she is eating healthy and getting activity, she *will* grow into a weight that is healthy for her body, no matter how much she enjoys eating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
I am just curious what you the Dr. said about your daughters weight? Did he suggest a pediatric nutritionist? Did he give you any advice? It sounds like you are doing a great job feeding her healthy foods! There must be a reason that she is so hungry and is gaining weight rapidly.
The dr. wasn't really concerned at all. I am the one who brought up her weight. We just moved here and this is the first time we have gone to this dr., so he hadn't seen her before and didn't have previous growth charts. He just said to keep an eye on the weight...weigh her once a month and call it into the office..and we will see it continues to go up. Plus, when we brought her in that day...she was sick...so the visit was more focusing on her illness (nothing serious..just a bug)...so I don't think the dr. focuses on the weight much. Also, he only saw her fully clothed (in a sweater and pants, since it was colder that day)..so with all her clothes on she really just looks big and tall..it is really only without her clothes on that you can see her very round belly and rolls of fat and you can see she is more fat and not just muscular. As I said, he did check her blood for hormone or thryoid issues...but the didn't find anything.
She hasn't been tested for diabetes, but she did have her fasting blood sugar tested, and it was normal.

Quote:
but in the meantime keep offering healthy foods, perferably ones with a low glycemic index (in other words, cut out the potatoes!,) and consider cutting out or down on the dairy too
We've already cut out all dairy and gluten....probably cutting down on potatoes wouldn't hurt as well

I just googled Prader-Willi syndrome...and I dont' think she has that at all. It says that it included low muscle tone and feeding problems in infancy (which she didn't have...we have never had anyone mention she has low muscle tone) and global developmental delays and mental retardation which she doesn't have either, she does have a slight language delay..but according to what I read people with this have severe delays and is most respects she is normal or slightly advanced in some things, she doesn't have the facial characterstics, and her genitals are normal, she doesn't have hypoplasia.

Honestly, I think she just *likes* to eat and has a slower metabolism/is naturally laid-back and not active. I also dont' think that she "can't" control her appetite...I mean she will leave food uneaten..we end up throwing a lot of food away because she leaves cereal in the bowl or whatever...but I think she just generally has a huge appetite and loves to eat (I can relate...I do too..however I think I was just blessed with a faster metabolism)

I think encouraging her to drink more water is good too. Water is really the only thing she drinks now..we don't give her juice and she doesn't really like soy milk or rice mik. I am going to start encouraging her to take a drink of water before she eats anything. I do think sometimes she doesn't drink enough water and she will go several hours without having to pee at all.

Thanks for the replies everyone. I guess it will probably just take time..with cutting out the gluten/caesin and more exercise. I guess we will just have to bundle up and this winter and go on long hikes.
 

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I am just convinced that in the coming years we are going to understand more and more how food has addictive properties just as alchohol and drugs do, and some of us are more prone to addiction than others. I always had a big appetite as a child but was hyperactive. Then in my teens my metabolism slowed down but my appetite didn't and I've had to work on my weight (up and down, up and up, down, up...) ever since. I have a sibling who is close to 300 pounds. And a brother who is a beanpole. DD seems to have been extremely fortunate in inheriting her father's physique, which is long and lean. He often eats more than I do but I don't think he's gained more then 10 pounds in the 20 years we've been married and he doesn't work out a bit
: .

I just think there is a lot we don't understand yet about genetics and food and some of us just got a raw deal in terms of large appetites and slow metabolism. But the solution for now is to control the input (subtly, positively as you've been doing) and work on getting her to like physical activity. It probably will be a struggle given her tendencies but this is what parenting is all about --helping our unique child (not that skinny child eating McDs) learn to navigate the specific challenges life presents to them. You sound like you have done so many good things and you just need to build on that and recognize you will have to walk a fine line all the time of encouraging positive behavior without ever giving her the sesnse that there is anything wrong with her.

Have you ever read about Rudolf Steiner's belief in four major personality types -- I hate 'typing' but I do remember one was 'fiery' ' and another was 'extrovert/social' and another was phlegmatic, which sounds awful but is described as good natured, loves food and comfort, affectionate, a tendency toward overweight. This was over 100 years ago...
 

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I never really believed in genetic predisposition to weight gain till I met my dh. His family is large and he himself is prone to weight gain - he has to work so hard to keep it off. It is painfull to watch him go to the gym every day for a month and only loose 2 pounds. I eat easily twice as much as him. I, BTW, amd much like your daughter in being able to eat all the time. If fact, I have very vivid memories of food at a very young age. I also have a super fast metabolism.

People are just made different. I understand that my kids have a very good chance of being overwight (and if they get my food gene and dh's metobolism, we are in trouble
). I'll have to be able to help them value being healthy over being thin (which may be an impossibility for them). I'll have to help them feel beautiful and strong when they are "overweight" according to our society.

I will do much what you are doing. As much healthy food as they want. Encourage an active lifestyle. Perhaps some slight redirection. Maybe some tweeking of food groups. None of thsi means they won't be big; but it means they will be healthy.

It may be that your daughter is just going to be big. By nature and by predisposition, big. But that doesn't mean unhealthy or unhappy.

Good luck. I think you are doing everything right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the replies everyone. I appreciate everyone's insight. Thinking about it somemore, I think she just got the bad genetic combination of a love of food with a tendency towards weight gain. I come from an Italian family and food is important to us, however my family is also fortunate in that we tend to have faster metabolisms and weight which doesn't fluctuate much. No one in my family (uncles, aunts, grandparents, parents, siblings) is really overweight and definitely not obese. In all my life, my parents weights have pretty much stayed the same...if anything they have lost weight as they got older. No one is really prone to huge weight flucations. I LOVE to eat and can eat a ton..but still pretty much stay the same (which is heavier than I would like to be...but not really considered overweight). I am guessing my parents weights are about the same as when they got married 31 years ago.

Dh's family on the other hand is prone to weight gain. Dh doesn't have much of a problem with it, because he really isn't "into" food..if that makes sense. It will often be 2:00 PM on a Sat. and he will ask me if he has eating yet or suddently remember he hasn't eaten anything that day
so he doesn't really have a weight problem. However, he does a brother who is obese and both his parents are/were prone to weight gain. His dad was very heavy right before he died, and if you look at pictures of his parents from when they were first married to when I met them (25 years later or so)..well they were both skinny when first married and heavy when I met them, so their weight fluctuates a lot.
 

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May I just add that I agree with the pp's about not making this a huge issue?

My mom fed us much the same way you do - we weren't limited to a set amount of food, and she kept healthy foods in the house. We snacked on fruits, veggies...maybe crackers and cheese, eggs - "real" food.
However, we also spent every other weekend at my grandmother's house. She loaded us with junk food - I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it since. Grandpa was sexually molesting my sister and myself, and she used the candy, popsicles, cookies, etc. to buy our silence. This created some food issues, particularly in my case (of the three, I'm the one with the natural sweet tooth).

My brother (half-brother, so quite different genetics) was always extremely physical and has never had a hint of a weight problem, no matter how much he eats (he's now 42, and a furniture mover - he eats).

My sister has always tended to the heavy side - never quite outgrew her "baby fat", and has continued to gradually gain throughout her life.

Here's me (the oddball): I thought I was heavy when I was little. Looking back, I wasn't at all. However, I did put on a few extra pounds at puberty. I could have easily lost 10 pounds, and it would have been good for me, but I wasn't very overweight. As an adult, I've been as low as 150 pounds at 5'5". That sounds very heavy...but I loved being that weight and would be completely happy to be back at it. I was probably overweight in the eyes of our culture, but I didn't care, and I was happy as can be...walked several miles each day, and did aerobics, yoga & weights on a regular schedule. When I got pregnant with ds1, I was up to almost 180...but still active and healthy. (This was mostly a case of eating with my ex-husband - I matched him portion for portion, and he was a furniture mover.) I was mostly okay with my weight and figured I'd drop a few pounds after I weaned the baby, before I got pregnant again. I was back down to 175 when I left the hospital, and quite happy there.

During a very bad few years (marriage breakup, poor physical health due to stress, three miscarriages), my weight shot up to a little over 200 pounds. I was eating tons and tons of candy, because I have a huge sweet-tooth and I was craving sugar to give me a boost. (I react to stress with insomnia and was getting by on about 30 hours sleep/week for almost two years.) That was the first time in my adult life that my weight bothered me...not because I was "fat", but because I was unhealthily fat.

Since that time, I've had two babies, and the second of those is only 3.5 months old. I haven't lost any weight. But, I'm getting active again, and eating better again, and I'm mostly okay with my weight - it will come off as it comes off. My bad feelings about my weight a few years ago were actually bad feelings about my health, and the knowledge that my excess weight was a visible symptom of my depression and bad marriage and all.

So...in my incredibly long-winded way, I'm just trying to let you know that carrying a few extra pounds isn't the end of the world, if the carrier is active and healthy in other ways. It sounds like you're doing a great job of providing your dd with good foods to eat, so keep it up. And, the activity is great! If she grows up to think of being active as a normal part of life, her battle is half won already.
 
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