Parenting

Do You Have a Skinny Minnie or a Chunky Monkey?

Cynthia Dermody
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growth charts

Photo by brighteyesbryar

My 4 year old has always been in a low percentile for weight according to the growth charts. It had been a constant source of stress for me and her father, especially when she was a baby. 

The allergist said my then 1 year old had a milk allergy, so introducing solids was very difficult. All the logical choices for fattening up a baby -- cheese, yogurt, butter -- were out.

At that point she was only in the 5th percentile for weight. The pediatrician said to heck with the allergy, this child needs to eat and gain weight, fast! Feed her spaghetti drenched in butter, he said. Make her milkshakes. He was very concerned. And I was between a rock and a hard place, wanting my daughter to gain but worried about other possible health consequences.

I did slowly introduce dairy, and while she gained a little, her weight still charted way below the curve all throughout her toddler years and up until this day. Yet in between all the office visits and weigh-ins, my thin as a rail daughter was always perfectly healthy.

Today my pediatrician concludes what he simply couldn't have guessed back in those critical years: "She's just a skinny minnie."

At her last checkup, she teetered around the 20 percentile mark on the growth chart. It's holding steady there, which means that's where her weight naturally falls.

The other day on the scale at home (she loves to hop on and measure herself), the digital numbers flashed at a mere 34 pounds. That's a gain of a pound since a few months ago. The way she's going, she'll be 6 and still riding in a five-point harness, since I can't move her to a booster seat until she's at least 40 pounds.

Of course, if this continues into adulthood, she'll be loving every minute of it. She'll be the only woman at the gym with 15 percent body fat who eats everything in sight. Maybe all the scientists should study her to unlock her secret!

Not every child can chalk up an abnormal growth curve to genetics or a good metabolism. Some children who grow or gain too slowly have serious endochrine problems and may need growth hormones or other therapy to get them back on track. In that way, growth charts are a very important tool for parents and doctors.

But a good deal of the time we have to remember that worrying about growth curves is a lot like milestones -- every child is different and following his own schedule. Do the best you can, feed good food, mix in plenty of exercise, practice other healthy habits, and the rest will take care of itself.

Does your toddler follow the growth charts? Do you have a skinny minnie or a chunky monkey? Are you concerned?

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