Are fat babies healthier than thin babies?

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Dr Paul Sinclair answers:

The simple answer is NO. Milk, preferably breastmilk, is sufficient food in normal newborns and it’s the only thing your baby needs to eat right through to four to six months.

If you’re really worried that your baby is too skinny, take him to a doctor or clinic for a checkup to make sure. The height of a baby is an important factor of “skinniness”, as is the genetic makeup of the baby. The average height of a newborn is around 50cm and the average weight is about 3,25kg. If, for example, your baby is 58cm long and weighs 3,3kg he will certainly appear slim but is actually very normal and healthy. Being fat, overweight or obese is not healthy at any age.

The introduction of solids in South Africa remains a culturally biased and much debated subject, and it is very clear that it is not a “one size fits all” decision. It depends on a baby’s gestational age at birth, their size or weight at four to six months, allergy history, growth patterns and, obviously, economics. But no infant requires solids as a newborn, ever. Monitoring a baby’s growth is critical and intervention is necessary if his weight gain is inadequate or excessive, but this would be done under medical supervision and in the first few months of life would entail adjusting milk feeds (and not introducing solids early).

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