It does not take long for most mothers to realize everyone has an opinion on how you should raise your kid. Everyone seems especially concerned with how and what you’re feeding your kid. I had a big baby (at 41 weeks) who thinned out into a skinny mister after he entered the world. There were looks given, words spoken and input unsolicited every time I fed my son. What does he weigh? He is so skinny! Maybe your milk isn’t sufficient? Are you feeding him enough?
As mothers, we have a lot of pressure on our shoulders. Chances are, the opinions and criticisms expressed by others are also thoughts we’ve had ourselves. It makes things that much more difficult when outside voices, strangers or not, feel the need to remind you of your own parenting insecurities. My breastfeeding journey with my son was not always easy. It rarely is, right? We supplemented in the very beginning, as my milk was still coming in, and there was worry he didn’t have enough to eat. If you’ve ever been in similar shoes, then you know that is an awful feeling. No, I don’t mean that formula is awful. I’m talking about the expectation that you would provide nutrients for your child, but the reality that you aren’t able to on your own.
Around his 9 month checkup, I was alerted to some weight concerns and we had to supplement again. I was hard on myself. If I’m really honest, I remember feeling defeated from the social pressures of nursing. But I am so thankful that formula was an option that we had. This is not intended to be a breastfeeding versus formula debate. I am a big proponent of healthy and fed. Obviously, we all have personal goals as mothers. Exclusive breastfeeding is one for many. But putting baby first means doing what it takes to raise a child who is getting proper nutrition.
Two years later, we’ve come to learn and accept that our son just has a skinny build! It’s in his genes and he’s our lean machine. But not everyone finds it acceptable, which I think is crazy. The kid eats SO much. He can out eat me, and I love me some food! You typically think body image issues and insecurities are more commonly dealt with by girls, but I am learning it is something I have to handle with my boy, as well. I see people judging when we are out, wondering if I feed my child. It doesn’t help that he is constantly saying he’s hungry. What they don’t know is he will tell me he’s hungry AS he is eating a snack. Anytime he expresses hunger, I cater to it. Trust me, he eats like a king.
We are a fairly clean household when it comes to food, sticking to healthy fats and mostly organic. I notice I am stricter than most about sweets, but our pediatrician appreciates that. I make sure my son is full, but not off junk or bad fats. More important than eating healthy, is having a healthy mindset about body image and food. That’s what I strive to instill, and it’s hard if he is constantly critiqued about his slenderness. He is always on the low end of the growth chart for weight but is a happy and healthy boy. He grows at a steady pace and meets all developmental milestones.
Weight wars and food battles are real, regardless of having a boy or girl. Skinny or chubby, boy or girl … don’t be quick to judge other parents or children for their body types. More often than not, the parents are already sensitive to it. We should accept every child as different, special, and built in their own way.