A study in the Clinical Pediatrics Journal concluded that the window for preventing childhood obesity is during the first two years of a child’s life and it could be as early as three months for many babies. What? Three months? I am a little shocked by the 3 months data point as all babies are either breastfeeding or on formula exclusively at 3 months of age. The last thing we want as parents is to worry about putting babies on a diet and exercise plan. But if you think about it, it is so easy to overfeed babies as it is difficult to understand their cues sometimes. Babies suck to comfort themselves. How often do parents give the child a bottle or the breast when all the infant wants to do is comfort themselves? I heard of one mom in my mommy group giving her 3 month old almost 50 ounces of formula in a day because the baby cried a lot. In hindsight she realizes now that he was just over stimulated and hence cried excessively. It’s tough to know the “I am done eating” cues (milk dripping from the side, sucking really slowly etc.) to prevent the cycle of overfeeding. Regardless we shouldn’t be putting our infants on a diet especially when they are on milk only! They need all the love they can get ! It’s tough enough for them to adjust to life outside of the womb for the first few months.
With toddlers we can control overeating and make changes to prevent childhood obesity. It comes down to serving them fresh healthy food 80-90% of the time and allowing them to eat junk food the remaining 10% of the time. With toddlers and solid eating infants it means starting them on the right path of providing a variety of food items from the beginning so they develop healthy eating habits from the beginning.