Lose the Baby Fat

OK, the United States has officially gone off the rails as a society. Writing a Newsday editorial titled “Obsession Over Thin Babies,” Victoria Torres laments the fact that it takes a village … to hassle her about her baby’s weight.

[H]e’s a butterball. Strangers can be cruel about it. Part of the shock of my son’s girth is that I’m not heavy and neither is my husband. From the time our boy was about 2 months old, neighbors would gawk and ask me what I fed him. At first, my response was ‘hamburger’ or ‘pudding’ with a smile. Eventually the inquisition got to me. To the most aggressively curious (and portly) men who posed the question, I spat: ‘What do they feed you?!’

Matters are made worse by the environment where Torres is bringing up her baby. In her neighborhood, it seems, the vogue is not for bouncy, chubby, happy babies, but for model-svelte babies, “hipster toddlers who look as emaciated as Iggy Pop.”

How do they achieve the “look”? One way is by watering down 1 percent milk for the toddlers, instead of giving the whole milk pediatricians generally recommend. The writer notes that she knows a mom who waters down breast milk (!).

Torres seems caught between what she feels is best for her baby and the pressure to have a lean child.

I don’t want my son to be obese. But I don’t want to subject him to the acute anxiety about his weight that so many other mothers seem to feel about their kids. Sometimes, I wonder if the mothers who shop in the organic food aisle really are worried that a chubby baby makes them look fat.

The national obsession with obesity and thinness seems to be trickling down to the toddler set, and, if this article is any indication, having heartbreaking results. As a commenter to the Newsday piece notes, early childhood should be a time when children are offered a wide range of foods and taught healthy eating habits that they can carry with them for life.