Monday, August 8, 2011

The biggest baby on the block. Any block.

Callum is a large baby. A very large baby. He wasn't always that way, but he certainly is now.

When he was born he weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces. When we were discharged two days later he he had lost 5 ounces, only 3% of his birth weight. But when he went to the pediatrician the next day, he'd lost another 5 ounces. The pediatrician's brow furrowed. We left with instructions to supplement with formula and come back for another weigh-in the next day. We did. 8 pounds, 10 ounces. Half a pound overnight! We thought oh, he's gaining! Now we can wean him off the formula.

Nice try. The following week, at his well-child visit at 10 days old? 8 pounds, 5 ounces. Again we saw the pediatrician's concerned face. She told us that they wanted him back at birth weight by two weeks old, and suggested that we switch from the syringe to the bottle for his formula supplements. We did. At two weeks old, he weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. Close enough, said the pediatrician. Now just keep bringing him in for regular weight checks. As long as he's gaining, I'm happy. Is it possible to gain too much or too little, we asked. No. Any gain is fine, we were told.

And his pediatrician has stuck by that statement. She has zero concerns about how big he's gotten. It's just weird, now, to think back on those times, those looks of concern on the doctors' faces as our baby's weight dropped, as they worried that he wasn't growing enough. It's hard to remember how worried we were about getting him to grow, given how his growth just took off after that.

The usual growth curve for a baby is that they gain a ton of weight in the first few months and then taper off considerably. By 4-6 months, they're usually gaining less. Not Callum. He's gained approximately 2.5 pounds in each of the last three months. There may be a vague pattern of gaining an ounce or two less each subsequent month. But that's it.

It's not a problem, from a health perspective. For one thing, some people say that formula-fed babies taper off later than breastfed babies (though our pediatrician thinks he would be just as big if he were exclusively breastfed). For another, all of his other growth measurements are on pace with his weight. At 23 pounds, 13 ounces, he is off the charts for weight. He's also off the charts for height, at 29.5 inches. And his head circumference is in the 99th percentile too. He's a completely proportionate baby. He's just very large. According to the pediatrician, at six months old he is the size of an average 15-month-old.

I did ask if there were any reason to be concerned about how much he has grown. If he could have some kind of hormonal imbalance or pituitary issue. The pediatrician said no. She said he's just a big baby. And it's no surprise, really. Torsten and I are far from tiny. We're both tall (Torsten especially at 6'4" but I'm also above average at 5'8"). We have big frames, big solid bones with big wrists. And neither of us is exactly skinny. So we knew we'd have a big baby. But we weren't expecting him to be QUITE this big.

People seem to equate "big" with "healthy." We get comments, not just from strangers but also from doctors and nurses, upon first glance, before they know anything about him, "What a healthy baby!" "What a big healthy boy!" "You can see that HE'S healthy!" and so on. And he IS healthy, though I think he'd be just as healthy if he were in, say, the 75th percentile, or even the 25th. I do occasionally worry a little bit about why he's SO very big, but the pediatrician's utter lack of concern helps. And the fact that he's completely proportional reassures me that we aren't inadvertently overfeeding him. I guess SOMEONE has to have the biggest baby, and it might as well be us.

It's just... he's SO big. I mean, he is just very, very large. The pediatrician warned us at our last visit that we may start getting comments from confused strangers who think that he's much older than he is and developmentally delayed. They see a child the size of a 15-month-old who can barely sit up on his own and says bababababababa round the clock and they think that he's an older, delayed child. And then they say something about it.

We haven't gotten any such comments just yet, thank goodness. But I do get the feeling that as he gets older we will start getting more subtle comments. Not so much along the lines of "does he have a delay?" and more along the lines of "he's too old for XYZ." Like strangers who will think he's four when he's actually only two and scold us for letting him ride in a stroller/suck his thumb/generally act his age.

The other thing I wonder about is when the medical conversation about his size will flip from "big = healthy" to "childhood obesity." Given his proportionality, he isn't obese. But at some point will the commentary change from "What a healthy boy!" to "Hm, are you SURE you aren't giving him too much juice?"

The thing about a child of this size is that it's really hard to contemplate just how truly enormous he is unless you've experienced it in person. I kept telling my sister, he's SO big, you won't be able to believe it, but until she saw him herself and held him herself, I don't think she could totally wrap her mind around it. Here we have Callum (~24 pounds) and Morgan (~11 pounds) together, to help you get a better size perspective:


I'm happy with his size, other than the occasional irrational worry that he might somehow be growing too much. And I'm happy that he is a completely healthy baby. I know that there are a lot of people whose babies are growing much more slowly who would be thrilled to have a 24-pound six-month-old. And believe me, I wouldn't trade. I love everything about him, including his giant thighs.

I think the thing is that he's just SO big that it feels like nobody really GETS quite how big he is. Other people say, "Oh, my baby was the same way!" and I think, "Oh! Someone who has been there!" so I say, "Oh, how big was your baby?" and it turns out that it's not even in the same ballpark. Not even close. Callum is literally off the charts. That means that MORE than 99% of babies his age are smaller than he is. He is THE BIGGEST ONE.

And sometimes it's a pain in the ass. He's outgrown his swing. He outgrew his swaddle before we were ready to give it up. He's too heavy to carry around in his car seat, and in fact even though the car seat claims it goes up to 30 pounds, he already fills it out so completely that we will certainly have to invest in a convertible seat well before he hits 30 pounds, because there is clearly NOT room for a 25% bigger baby in that thing. He can't go in his bouncy seat because when he lies in it it goes so far down that it actually touches the floor. The back of his head is flat because he sleeps on his back and the sheer weight of his head is enough to flatten his skull. When my sister was here we watched how she cheerfully carried Morgan around in the crook of her arm with no trouble at all. We can't do that with Callum. You can only carry him for a finite (and short) amount of time before your arm starts to feel like it's about to fall off. So he spends a lot of time on our laps, but not so much being carried around in our arms. Luckily, he's not the type of baby who wants to be held all the time, because at his size, it simply would not be possible. As it is, Torsten and I both have sore arms constantly.

But mostly, it's great. He's sturdy. He grows through each size of clothing so fast that it feels like we are always getting to put him in exciting new outfits we've never seen before. He's growing, he's developmentally on target, and I love his solidity. Plus, he has the cutest baby belly and thigh rolls that I've ever seen.

I guess it's just not what I was expecting. And it's the kind of expectation-flouting where you get a reminder every time you emit an involuntary grunt just from attempting to pick up your baby. And I guess the thing is that I STILL don't know what to expect. I mean, looking at the standard curves on the growth charts, it feels like he HAS to taper off by nine months. It's not possible that he will continue to gain 2.5 pounds per month and weigh 31 pounds by nine months old. But I almost can't believe that he will suddenly only gain one pound per month from here on out. And I find it hard to believe others when they say that their baby was also big and then tapered off, because so far I haven't come across anyone whose baby was as big as ours.

So this is a lesson in expectations. And the futility of having them, at least when it comes to babies. Callum is healthy, and he is growing, and his growth will taper off when his body is ready, and not when the chart says that it will. And that's fine. And in the meantime, we get to enjoy the best chunky thighs I have ever seen:

26 comments:

  1. The baby weight issue is such a strange one. My girls weigh about 15.5 pounds at almost 11 months. I'll be amazed if they hit 16 pounds at a year. They are well below the 5th percentile for their age, and I know two month old babies that are bigger than they are. Yet, the are perfectly healthy...just small. Like Callum's size makes sense given his parents, Charlotte and Evelyn's sizes make sense as well. They have tall, relatively slender parents. They were probably never going to be giant babies...and yet it doesn't always keep me from worrying when I hear comments about how healthy bigger babies are.

    I really do wonder when we equate chubby with healthy (which is IS for babies) at what point does it become obese? I also wonder why, as a society, we are so vested in weight and growth charts for babies. Clearly the curve should indicate that babies come in all shapes and sizes. Someone has to be at the very top and the very bottom. If we were all average, there wouldn't be a curve...and life would be pretty boring.

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  2. Oy.... he's so cute! My kids were all big (95-ish percentile range) and didn't really taper off while their height and weight were still being charted. None of them are strikingly large now - they're all quite lean and on the taller side of their friends, but not remarkably so. Enjoy those chubby thighs... as soon as he gets moving they'll disappear.

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  3. I just went and looked it up in my records - my little guy Blaise weighed 22lbs, 8oz and was 28.5in long. And he was solidly in the 99th percentile. Which means Callum must be in the 99.9th percentile! Wow.

    With Blaise, though, the weight gain slowed WAY down once he started moving... and actually, he ended up *losing* weight (just a few ounces) between his 15-month and 18-month check-ups. We ended up having to take him back for a weight check. It was so bizarre.

    I, too, have noticed the weight=health assumption that people make with babies, because we got SO MANY COMMENTS that first year. And I never did, but I always wanted to say, "Yes, he's healthy, but so was his sister who weighed five pounds less at this age."

    Now that I have twins, I'm really relieved that they seem to be sticking to their sister's growth curve instead of their brother's. I don't know what would happen to my poor back otherwise.

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  4. I think the baby weight thing is crazy making, and in our case the big = healthier thing was my pet peeve. You know Thomas is on the smaller size but always followed his curve perfectly and was gaining, but took after B and me in our body types. We would always get the "Oh, you need to feed him more. Maybe you should switch to formula" from the masses. And now that he's over 1 and walking everywhere? "What a big boy! Oh look at those chubby legs. Time for him to go on the Toddler diet". WHAT? He's still following his curve perfectly, and this world has a really screwed up idea if infants are supposed to be fat and then immediately thin out at their first birthday. Just let babies be themselves! It's just funny to me (and sad) that it never stops.

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  5. Callum is almost exactly the same size as the Madman was at his recent 15 month check-up (24lbs and 31 inches). At 6m he was 19lbs and 28 inches. And Mad is still in his infant seat in my car because we are too cheap to buy a new carseat until we HAVE to :)

    Although Mad isn't as big as Callum he did have the aggressive growth until 9 months. Then between 9-12 and 12-15 he didn't even gain a whole pound yet grew nearly an inch between each visit. He dropped from 69th for weight down to 25th between 6 months and a year. Baby growth charts are crazy. And my doc has no concern as long as all the proportions are in sync. He says that the 2nd year of life is when "natural body types" (i.e. tall/short/slender/solid) are fleshed out and propensity towards obesity doesn't tend to show up until well after age 2.

    But man, those thighs and rubberband wrists - I miss those!

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  6. I don't understand all that percentile mumbo jumbo but I can tell you that my daughter was a very large baby. At 6 months she weighed 19 lbs. We got all the asshole comments like, "Are you giving her too much formula?" "She is, ummmm, healthy?" You know, all the stuff that makes you start to question yourself. She tapered off around one year and slowed down her growth alot. Although now, at almost 2 years old, she is two inches shorter and 3 lbs less than her almost 4 year old cousin. The doctor has no concerns though but I am constantly worried about the weight issue. So I'm right there with you.

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  7. It sounds like these percentiles are another way to freak parents out about where their child is on the chart! As long as Callum's doctor says he is doing okay, then I wouldn't worry. I would hope that strangers don't come up to you guys and ask if he has any delays- how awkward and rude if they do!

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  8. It really is reassuring how completely RIGHT he looks. He DOES look healthy! Healthy and glowing, and everything the right size for everything else.

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  9. I usually don't comment- sorry!- but I'm commenting now because my baby really WAS that big! 24 lbs at 6 months, 27 pounds, 10 ounces at 9 months, 31 pounds at a year, 33 at 15 months. He's 3 1/2 now and weighs about 42-43 pounds. So, still very big for his age and above the 99th%, but he wears 4T clothing and doesn't seem THAT much bigger than his peers, and the weight ain really did slow down. His height is on the charts, 98th%, which briefly had me worried but the doctor said he was fine- he really doesn't have very much fat, he is just muscular and SOLID, and he's gotten much thinner over the summer from swimming every day anyway.
    My husband and I are also both tall, big people so we've ruled out any hormonal growth issues. (He is 6'3" and I'm 5'11")The pediatrician says she's seeing a lot of very big babies and kids these days and was talking about how improvements in nutrition & the fact that most American kids born today are several generations away from any sort of food shortage or famine are making a big difference in kid's sizes.
    I definitely experienced the same frustrations with his size as you are- outgrowing the swing, outgrowing the bucket car seat, outgrowing the RF weight limit on his car seat, then the FF limit, and having to buy another expensive car seat. I did get some occasional comments from people- "wow, he's still crawling??" "he's 11 months old!" but not as much as I expected and I just blew it all off anyway.
    And hey, it's a great Jerk detector- anyone who is crappy to you about how big your child is, of all things, is probably a good person to avoid anyway!
    Sorry for the novel. My last bit of advice, whenever you see Carter's 24 month onesies- BUY THEM! They are as rare as gold dust and you'll probably need them pretty soon!

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  10. My pseudo-stepfather's grandson is truly as big as Callum. At 9 months he was over 25 pounds. But he's also tall, like Callum, so it's fine.

    Supposedly babies really start gaining less weight when they start moving more on their own.

    For what it's worth, my pediatrician says until the kid is two, you just focus on gaining weight.

    I have skinny babies, and though it does make me worry a little bit, I am very grateful that it is so much easier to carry them around. =)

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  11. He is lovely. I would feel lucky, too. Scooter is in the 3rd percentile and we have to go in for regular weight checks. I would love to have the pediatrician who says, Well SOMEONE has to be the smallest. Why not us?

    Indeed.

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  12. One of my friends in Texas has a baby like that (and really! he's like that!). He just hit six months old and he's 26 lbs (he's breastfed).

    It is a little bit odd to see a baby that large (especially compared to my 5th percentile baby) who is still absolutely a BABY and can just barely sit up on his own but looks like he could be well over a year old.

    And then people think MY baby is very advanced because she's so tiny and walking.

    They do just do what they want, as far as weight, don't they?

    He is SO cute. What a smiler!

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  13. He's just growing fast. He will even out as he starts to walk, and then will shoot up in height just like my son did. I used to nickname my son fatty mcfatty b/c he had five rolls on his legs as a baby. Enjoy the chubbiness b/c it doesn't last long enough!

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  14. Callum is sweet and adorable and just the size he's supposed to be. Given your own personal struggles/challenges with weight and your attempts to lose it, I cannot imagine you'll ever over-feed your child. So long as your own expectations are in check, it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks. If only every baby could be problem-free!

    BTW, just over the weekend, we saw this itty bitty umbrella stroller with a kid who looked to be 4 sitting in it. Sweets made some comment about the kid being way too old for that stroller. I told him to check himself - we don't know how old the kid really is or whether he needs a stroller or not! =)

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  15. It has been 6 years (sob) since my oldest baby was Callum's size but I remember those thighs with fondness. My oldest was CHUBBY and so sweet and snuggly. He was breastfed so I don't think it has anything to do with food source. My son's best friend was even larger - well over the height and weight charts.

    Around my son's first birthday, the weight gain slowed and he began to grow taller and leaner. He is now 6 and he is lean and energetic and looks really average. His friend who was off the charts as a baby is really tall and thin and maybe a bit under weight at this point because he never stops moving long enough to eat.

    Also, just because you have one chart topping little one, it doesn't mean subsequent children will follow the same pattern. My second son is super tiny - 5th percentile for height and weight.

    You are doing a great job - keep up the good work!

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  16. My 6 month old is 92% for weight and 50% for height. I was concerned about her not being proportionate but the doctor says that as long as she is following her growth chart, they aren't concerned with babies' weights until they hit 1 year old. That is generally when sweets and junk food start to get introduced into kid's diets.

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  17. Thanks for posting this! I have a 4 month old who is 19 lbs 3 oz... My husband and I are of very average size so it is a little concerning but the pediatrician hasn't been worried about anything but his head size, it's a higher growth curve than the rest. Here's to seeing what happens with our big little guys in the future. Just look on the bright side, you will sport some awesome muscles by the time he starts walking :)

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  18. I have to say, I think Callum is one of the cutest babies I have ever seen. Big or not, he certainly is adorable!

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  19. Gosh, he is SO cute! Every time I see that little grin I melt a little bit.

    It IS odd how babies grow. Maddie was always in the 95%ish for weight and 75%ish for height, so she was biggish but not to the degree that you're experiencing. But at one point everything really DID level off, and I suppose it will be the same for Callum.

    I still find it odd, though, to go to the doctor and find that her weight is relatively consistent now that she's older - she was 37lbs in February for her 3 year well-visit, and we just took her last week for a fall and she was still the same. That blew my mind a little bit, just because of what you're describing in this post.

    He is going to be the boy that all the other boys in class envy and are trying to catch up to!

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  20. it's hard to really grasp how big he is until you see a picture of him with another baby - like your neice - because he's so PROPORTIONAL. sure, he's kind of enormous, but in a completely reasonable way. his body is just very advanced for its age :)

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  21. The baby weight thing is kind of annoying. From someone who has had big babies, always in the 95th percentile and above, people are ALWAYS telling me that they're big. At four, Benjamin looks like he's six, easily. People are always shocked when he has the skills and behavior of a four year old, when they assume he's a first grader. I spend a LOT of time preemptively stating his age to strangers.

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  22. I have personally known three babies that were as big as Callum. One started big (11 lbs!) and he was TWENTY EIGHT pounds at 5 months old. People were worried about him and would ask his mom if he could breathe ok. (He was exclusively breastfed, not that it matters much as you said.)

    The other two were girls, both average size at birth. Both around 25 lbs at 6 months.

    All three kids tapered off considerably by a year. I believe all of them weighed close to the same at a year as they did at 6 months, though they grew taller during that time. I know at least 2 of them wore the same exact clothes 2 summers in a row. All three are normal-sized, not even a hint of chubby now. (They are aged 5, 8, and 9 now.)

    Perhaps all the clothes you like now will still fit him next summer!

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  23. The baby weight obsession is just so odd, isn't it? It seems to be a reflection of the generalized weight obsession we adults have. Hannah is currently in the middle of the chart, but has been 80, so the charts mean very little to me. What DOES bus me is people (well, MIL) who say (jokingly) we must be starving her as she tries to shove more food in her.

    Ayiyiyi.

    Callum looks incredibly happy and well cared for. What more can anyone ask?

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  24. My nephew was a really big baby. He was healthy and chunky and fantastic. But compared to his much smaller twin brother, well, there were always comments. However, once he got old enough to start walking and running he slimmed down to a husky little boy instead of a chunky one.

    I have no idea if Callum is in the same boat, obviously, but I don't think you need to worry yet. :)

    xox

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  25. The whole baby weight thing infuriates me. Bud was 10lbs 2oz at birth and was 24lbs at 6 months, 31 lbs at 1 year. I heard all the comments too. Always off the charts for height and weight. He is now an average sized 57lb 51inched 7year old.

    I'm pleased that your doctor reassures you that Callum is perfectly normal. Anyone who doesn't say just that, needs to shut up.

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