I’ve talked about growth charts before in relation to concerns about children who are petite. Recently, I have consulted a few parents who are concerned that their child is overweight. When we have looked at their weight for age and height, they have been growing at a normal rate for a large child. What do I mean by this? If you look at the growth chart below, you can see that this boy has always been a big kid. His weight has tracked between the 90th and 97th percentiles since he was young. Parents of children who grow like this often tell me “He’s always been a big child”.
Parents often become concerned about their large child if/when they get teased or bullied because of their size. Unfortunately it’s common for children to make fun/tease/bully anyone who is a bit different from the ‘average’. In fact, my younger daughter who was thin as a child, was teased because ‘you could see her ribs’. It’s also a normal growth pattern for children approaching puberty to gain body fat before their height growth spurt. So large children tend to get more tummy fat before they actually grow taller. In fact, they reach puberty earlier than smaller children. When this happens, it is important to check the your child’s rate of growth on the growth charts rather than assuming that your child is overweight. If their weight on the charts remains around the same place as it has been in the past, then this is normal growth for this particular child. If you are wanting a thorough assessment of your child’s growth book an appointment with me. This is an important part of every initial consultation.
The best thing you can do is to continue to offer five or six structured meals each day and leave it to your child to decide how much to eat at each meal – this is part of the Division of Responsibility in feeding. Let your child eat as much as they need to feel full at each meal – nothing to eat in between meals apart from water. This may sound scary to parents of a large child, however, trying to restrict a child’s intake never works well. It mostly has the opposite affect. The child ends up eating more because they hide, sneak or binge on food.