Elsie M. Taveras, chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Pediatric Population Health Management at Massachusetts General Hospital shares some tips on how to give your baby a healthy start.
Why is being overweight or obese unhealthy for my baby?
Being overweight or obese at any age raises a person’s risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease earlier in life. Being overweight or obese can also affect your child’s self-esteem as he grows up. It can also make him more likely to be bullied.
Can diseases like diabetes and heart disease be prevented?
Many chronic diseases, like diabetes or heart disease, are preventable. These diseases can start during the first 1,000 days (approximately from conception through age two) of your baby’s life. Practicing healthy behaviors during this time can help shape the lifelong health of both children and their mothers.
What are the most common predictors of childhood obesity?
The most common predictor of childhood obesity is maternal obesity before or during pregnancy. Other factors that can predict whether your child is overweight include:
• Types of food your baby eats
• Drinking a lot of sugary drinks
• Eating large portions
• Mindless eating, or eating when you are not hungry
• How you or your partner respond to your baby’s hunger and fullness cues
• Watching TV
• Having a TV in your or your baby’s bedroom
• A mother’s weight before and during pregnancy
• Smoking during pregnancy
• Whether a mother breastfeeds
• Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
• How quickly your baby gains weight
• How much and how well your baby sleeps
What are some small steps I can take now to help give my baby a healthy start?
• Learn to tell when your baby is hungry and full. Only feed your baby when he shows signs of hunger. Stop feeding when he shows signs of being full.
• Do not give your baby any sugary drinks or juice (including 100 percent fruit juice). Sugary drinks make babies more likely to gain extra weight and get cavities when they are older.
• Hold off on introducing solid foods until between four to six months of age. Wait until your baby shows signs of being ready to try solid foods before offering them. This includes sitting up without help, bringing toys and hands to his mouth, showing interest in your food and munching and swallowing.
• For toddlers and older children, be okay with them not finishing all of the food on their plates.
• Set a good example for your baby by eating healthy as well.
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