Let them be Little

As mums, we’ll all recognise that red book with those charts. One of the first things people ask after you’ve given birth is how much the baby weighed. Right from the off, even if only subconsciously, we’re forming a judgement on someone else’s weight.

Red book

That red book!

Even when I was pregnant, and Baby Lighty was just a bump, the midwives would say each week that my bump was measuring on the small side, and immediately after he was born, there were comments from the midwives and relatives alike that he was “very little”. My having low Papp A during pregnancy would also mean that he was likely to have a low birth weight, I was told.

He was 6lbs 8.5oz, so not tiny, and as he was 4 days overdue, this was clearly the size that he was meant to be. No one really took into account that he was absolutely perfect; small he may have been, but he was absolutely, beautifully, perfectly formed.

So from the very beginning he was deemed as “little”. This really didn’t help when I then struggled to breastfeed for a month, or as I find myself joking now, “when I starved him for a month”. At my 28 day midwife check, I was told to switch to formula, as Baby Lighty had lost too much weight, and as it was the hottest summer the UK had seen for years, there were also fears that he was dehydrating.

Having not enjoyed breastfeeding (that’s a long post for another day!), a small part of me was relieved, but the bigger part of Mrs Lighty  felt oh so guilty. I hadn’t grown him well in the womb, now I hadn’t fed him properly, and not only that but I was switching away from something which was supposed to be the best form of nourishment a mother could provide.

The switch to formula wasn’t an easy one, either. The poor little mite decided he was going to suffer from reflux, so even once he was getting a decent quantity of food, he wasn’t keeping it down. At six weeks we changed to the reflux milk, and thank goodness, that seemed to do the trick.

But that doesn’t mean that Mrs Lighty has stopped worrying about his weight. At our six week check, I was, I feel now, worried unnecessarily by the doctor. He quite clearly stated that Baby Lighty was “severely underweight”, told me to have him weighed at least once a week and packed a very anxious new mother on her way. Since then, I’ve compared him obsessively to other babies, I feel like I force feed him every milk feed for fear that he won’t put on weight, and you will recall my feelings towards weaning from my earlier post!

But why are we so obsessed with weight? All mothers will be familiar with percentiles. Before having a baby, I didn’t really get what my friends were talking about. 50th percentile?! What on earth did that mean?! Now I’m all over it!

I therefore think it’s important to remember that the charts track an average for all babies. We are all supposed to be different sizes; the world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same. So why is it that, had Baby Lighty sat on the 98th percentile rather than the 9th, I’m sure that Mrs Lighty would’ve been told that Baby Lighty was too heavy? And why, when I had him weighed for the first time since starting weaning to find that he’d jumped up a percentile, did I feel so proud, messaging family, my NCT group and my Facebook baby group to say that for once I felt like it was a rare moment of doing slightly alright as a mummy?!

Of course, a massive part of it is because you’re so pleased that you’ve helped your baby to thrive. Looking back, Baby Lighty does look like he’s on the undernourished side in the 4 week photo taken just as I finished breastfeeding, so formula feeding was absolutely the right decision for us.

Dexter 4 weeks old

Baby Lighty at a tiny 4 weeks old.

However, a big part of me does think that it’s also because stereotypes dictate the likes of boys needing to be “big and strong”, whereas girls can get away with being “petite and delicate”.

For now at least, having gained some confidence from the last baby weigh in, I’ve decided to try to trust my judgement and follow Baby Lighty’s lead. If he’s hungry, he’ll tell me. If he’s burning up calories from all the rolling around he’s been doing and from his attempts to crawl, so be it. Let’s let them be little. After all, all good things come in small packages.

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19 thoughts on “Let them be Little”

  1. Oh the breast feeding debate – I so wanted to breast feed, but because I had an emergency c section my body just wasn’t doing it. I dont feel that as a mum I failed, that I hadn’t done the best for my baby BUT I was made to feel like that!!!!
    And the RED book, it’s just a guide, a memory but I agreed it’s like a report book, if you don’t reach the right levels you’ll get detention !
    So much pressure on new mums is so wrong, but not sure the powers that be see that. Onwards and upwards all you lovely mummies x

    1. So true about it being a report book! The irony is that we don’t own scales, so Mr Lighty and I don’t have a clue how much WE weigh, but we’re all over Baby Lighty’s weight!! ? Thank you for reading my post 🙂 xxx

  2. I am so with you lovely. My first was always a “chunk” and happily sat in the 90 + centiles so I never had to worry. Then Mstr Tot was born (50th centile) and all was fine, but then he lost 14% of his body weight in his first two weeks as I too was unknowing starving the poor tot. We ended up in hospital and it turned out that he had contracted Strep B and so was a lazy feeder. We manager to ramp things up and within a few more days he was gaining weight again. He was always on the lighter end of the scales from that point onwards though and it never helped when well meaning health visitors kept telling me that he ought to be climbing the centiles. Now that he’s 16 months he is absolutely fine and strutting about like a little tank. I have no idea what centile he is now on or even what he weighs. He’s just healthy and happy and that’s good enough for me!

    Ps. My eldest also had a head measurement on the 99.6 centile. Does she now wander about with a gargantuan noggin bumping into things? No. She is perfectly normal. Put the red book in the bin and be happy! Your little man is gorgeous xxx

    1. Haha, the comment about not having a giant head bumping into things really made me laugh!! ? Ah you had a tough time of it with your youngest. That’s what I keep telling myself, that if he’s happy and healthy, then not to worry about his weight. Unfortunately as he was poorly last week, he has lost weight again! ? Thanks for reading my post, as always xxx

  3. All my babies have been little around 7lb and then at some point or another dropped to the 25th centile and then stayed there. I too was worried with my first and now I know as long as they relatively follow their line that is just how they are meant to be. Also a monthly or fortnightly weigh is better (advice from paed) as it takes into account illness etc. Hugs. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix

    1. Yes the Health Visitor told me that…when I’d been religiously pretty much every week up until he was 4 months old!! Think she thought I was a bit odd for going every week, ha!! Thanks for having me on #picknmix 🙂

  4. Our little mouse (Dangermouse) was 5lb12oz at birth (overdue) and has remained on the 2nd centile ever since. At nearly 16 months old she’s still in some 0-3 month clothes ha ha. She is perfectly developed mind you…people always comment how teeny she is – especially now she’s running around. There have never been any health concerns at all, that was obviusly just how she was always meant to be. I can totally relate to so many of your points here. Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub xx

    1. Aww bless her! She sounds just adorable! Thank you for saying that you can relate, so many of my friends have bigger babies that I feel almost embarrassed at how small he is and find myself constantly saying that he eats and drinks as much as their little ones and is (mostly) in the right sized clothing! Should definitely take my own advice and just let him be little!! Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub 🙂

  5. I can totally relate to this, our boy was in the second percentile when born and when he was up to the ninth at his nine-month check in I was jumping for joy. Nobody explained to me what made him so small when he was born, so I naturally blamed myself. Did I not eat enough or well enough? When I got pregnant again, my new midwife assured me there wasn’t anything I could have done to control his birth weight, and it was a huge weight off my shoulders. He’s still on the small side, but once they’re on finger foods you can’t exactly force feed them, so I’ve stopped worrying about it as long as he’s happy and thriving. I’m glad to hear you’ve decided to give yourself a break as well 🙂

  6. Becoming a parent is worrysome enough without charts and centiles etc. My little guys weights has been up and down but never a concern luckily. I do like to see where he is on the charts though which i know is alittle silly hes perfectly healthy.

    I take him probably monthly to be weighed now and his length checked which is for his baby book and height chart in the nursery rather than health concern. I was told he was on the small side in regards to length/height to then be told on his next check that he had been marked up as 10months when he was 11 which made him appear small. I think we all just want our children to be normal but then define normal :p

    1. Yes that’s so true! Especially when we’re all meant to be different shapes and sizes! Baby Lighty has never been measured height wise, as they don’t do it in our borough as it ‘stresses the babies out’ ? So instead I compare him obsessively to my friends’ babies, ha!! Thanks for taking the time to read my post 🙂

  7. That is so great you are taking the lead from her. We were lucky (or unlucky) to be living overseas where we could kind of side step the obsessive measurements etc and I could use my own best judgement and you know what, it felt good! Thanks so much for linking to #coolmumclub lovely x

    1. Ah that’s good to be able to follow your own lead! I’m definitely trying to do it a lot more myself nowadays! Thanks for reading my post and hosting #coolmumclub 🙂

  8. Since when was 6lb 8oz a small baby?!! That’s a very normal weight when I think about the weight of both my own babies and friends’ babies. Ridiculous to be made to worry about a child who is well within average weights. Kind of insulting to those who have tiny, premature and unwell babies really isn’t it?

    1. Yes very true. To me he’s perfect either way. I think it was just that when I was pregnant I was told I’d have a small baby, so it’s always played on my mind. But as you say, 6lbs 8oz is actually pretty average!!

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