Oliver is 6 months old today, and is a happy and healthy 25 pounds, 8 ounces and 28 inches long. Yay for my big healthy boy! My happiness at his glowing health was diminished a bit by the discussion that followed his exam.
I am going to find a new pediatrician. Our culture is so unbelievably paranoid about obesity, and this paranoia has apparently begun to rub off on her. Despite the fact that on average babies about double their birth weight by about 4 months of age, which in Oliver’s case would have put him at 22 pounds 12 ounces at four months instead of 25 pounds 8 ounces at six months, my doctor suggested to me that I stop nursing him at night now.
Hmmm… we co-sleep, said I.
Oh, said she, well that will make it difficult to stop nursing him at night. We like to see babies his age sleep through the night and get all their nutrition during the day. So you should move him to his crib, and then stop nursing him at night.
Oh, I see, thought I, as she explained the health benefits of a crib sleeping baby. I should completely alter my parenting style and forgo any further co-sleeping or other attachment parenting planning because you like to see babies sleep in cribs through the night at six months of age without nursing.
Beyond simply waving away my parenting choices as unimportant or uninformed and failing to ask if I was interested in placing him in his crib at night, she went even lower in my opinion as her explanation continued.
She claimed it was to promote healthy sleeping and eating habits, and that is when it hit me. My pediatrician thinks my baby is fat. My handsome, amazing, baby, who has done his job of more than doubling his birth weight by six months.
He is not obese, he is a baby! When a baby’s birth weight is over 11 pounds, of course he is going to be up in the 20 pound range at 6 months, unless there is some failure to thrive stuff going on. According to the experts, he is supposed to almost triple his birth weight at 8 months. If he does, he will be 34 pounds 2 ounces.
It sounds alarming doesn’t it? A 34 pound baby? He must be fat! But a 6 pound baby is supposed to be 18 pounds around 8 months, because infants on average triple their birth weight in the first 8 months. Well, Oliver had a higher than average birth weight, therefore, it is a larger than average number when tripled. He would have to gain 9 pounds from today in order to meet the “average” increase in weight for babies his age. Yet I am supposed to stop him from eating at night.
Basically, I am supposed to limit my infant’s calorie intake. Wait a minute…. I am supposed to put my baby on a diet?! Who on earth would put a baby on a diet? Don’t most doctors tell parents not to limit their babies nutrition because they need it, including fat, for important brain development? Ack!
Anyway, I am seeking a new doctor, who at the very least, won’t dismiss my parenting choices out of hand because she would like to see all babies sleeping through the night in cribs without nursing at 6 months. Babies are not kittens, or puppies, they are people. They are individuals. My little individual is afraid of his crib. If you put him in it, he cries his scared cry, his startled cry, his “mommy something is coming to get me please protect me” cry. Am I to teach him that his most urgent cry is something I won’t listen to by leaving him in there to “get used to it”? What lessons will he really learn from being left somewhere that really scares him?
I don’t believe 6 month olds need to be left in cribs to have good sleeping habits. My daughter never slept in a crib, and slept with me until she was 18 months old. Then we had one horrible week where she learned to sleep in her own bed, and she has had little to no trouble sleeping through the night ever since. For the most part, she goes to bed at 8 and gets up at 7, every night. Keeping her in bed with me has not seemed to destroy her ability to sleep well.
I also don’t believe 6 month olds need to be placed on a calorie restriction diet. I was a hugely fat baby, complete with ankles that rolled down over my shoes and socks. By the time I was a toddler, I was a lean and muscular athletic child, and I remained that way until childbearing and laziness added a paunch here and there. I am sure my son will do the same thing, and will be a strong and healthy toddler and child, without me restricting his diet now.
Now I simply need to find a new pediatrician, and all will be well.