It’s Not About Looks
Once your child is old enough to start walking, running, and jumping, she’ll likely shed much of her baby weight. But the transition from chubby baby to thinner kid doesn’t happen overnight. “It’s still normal for a 2-year-old to have a prominent tummy,” King says. “It’s not necessarily about how they look.”
Instead, think about how well your child can move. Other than BMI, “one sign that there’s a weight issue in the works, even before that 2-year mark, is if your child is having trouble walking, rolling over, or pulling themselves up easily,” King says. If her weight keeps her from being active, talk to your pediatrician.
What You Can Do
Healthy habits will not only help your child’s weight, it will teach her how to live well for a lifetime. Here are some strategies to keep in mind:
Focus on food quality over quantity. “When they’re a baby, you’re really focused on quantity of food,” says Stephanie Walsh, MD, medical director of child wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Your choices are limited -- breastmilk or formula -- so you focus a lot on how much they’re eating.”
Once babies turn into toddlers, though, parents need to turn their attention to the quality of their diets.
“This is the time as a parent when you can set good habits by offering a variety of healthy foods,” Walsh says. “Pickiness sets in, but don’t be too quick to write off a food just because they don’t seem to like it.”
Likewise, don’t swoop in with unhealthy snacks just because they ate two bites at breakfast. “Your job is to provide healthy options, and then let them decide how much to eat,” Walsh says.
Model healthy choices. “Mealtimes should be pleasurable and include all ages,” Walsh says. That means Mom, Dad, and kids all eat together -- and they all eat the same thing. If you want your 2- or 3-year-old to nibble on their broccoli, “that means you need to eat the broccoli, too.”