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Your petite baby is okay and so are you

Your petite baby is okay and so are you

My blog stats show that two of my most popular posts of all time are How I tried (and failed) to grow a big fat baby and 10 things mums of petite babies know to be true.

(Speaking of stats, I’ve got a blog post about them coming soon – watch this space.)

The popularity of How I tried (and failed) to grow a big fat baby is partially because the post was briefly being returned in search results for the term ‘big fat baby’, which is a shame for the people who were doing that search, since that post is about the exact opposite type of baby. But I think there’s another reason that people are reading these posts, and that’s because there are lots of other parents of petite babies out there who are just as anxious about their baby’s size as I was. So for those parents, here’ s some advice:

Don’t get too hung up on the Red Book.

The Popple’s weight usually hovered around the 2nd percentile in the Red Book. That essentially means that if there were 100 babies her age in a room, 98 of them would be bigger than her.

And so what?

Someone has to be the smallest (or the second smallest). Someone has to be the biggest. As long as your baby is more or less following a centile line, don’t worry too much about which one it is.

Don’t discount genetics.

I worried about the Popple’s weight obsessively, even though many people pointed out that my husband and I aren’t exactly giants. At 5’5 and around 135lbs, Adrian’s the bigger one of the pair. The idea that the two of us could create a big fat baby was laughable. I should have seen that.

And yet I couldn’t, because I felt so much pressure to put pounds on the Popple. I kept chasing the dream of those chubby baby thighs, and I felt devastated every time a trip to the weigh-in clinic confirmed what I could plainly see – that the Popple wasn’t fat.

The fact is, smallish people are probably going to have a smallish baby. That’s just how it goes. If you and your partner are both on the small side, know that it’s likely to have an impact on your baby’s propensity for chunkiness.

Trust your instincts.

There will be cases where a baby fails to gain enough weight because of an underlying health issue, ie reflux or cow’s milk allergy. If this is the case with your baby, you’ll probably have a sense that something isn’t right. They’ll be in pain and not afraid to let you know it.

But if your baby is perfectly happy and just a bit on the small side, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. While the Popple wasn’t the cheeriest of babies, she never gave me any reason to suspect that there was any health reason for her being small. I should have trusted that part of me that knew, deep down, that she was fine.

Don’t worry about weaning.

Your petite baby might not eat much solid food at first. Don’t worry – most babies don’t eat much solid food for the first few months. They will probably hate the food that you offer them, but they’ll soon learn to love it. Then they’ll go through a phase where they hate it again and refuse to eat anything but rice cakes. But then they’ll love it again.

Babies are annoying like that.

Some days they will hardly eat anything. Some days they will steal a bag of breadsticks out of your handbag and eat the whole lot in one go. It all balances out.

I’ve gone from worrying about whether the Popple is eating enough to wondering if it’s possible for a small toddler to eat her weight in grapes. She’s still petite, but I’ve stopped focusing on the numbers and started focusing on the joy of moments like this.

The Popple eating pancakes in a high chair
Pancakes make me smile too, Popple.

20 thoughts on “Your petite baby is okay and so are you”

  • Ah I think this is so important for people to realise that being small (or big) isn’t necessarily a problem- as you say, someone has to be at the end of the spectrum. Trusting your instincts and ignoring the centile lines is great advice. Babies come in all shapes and sizes and that’s good – it would be boring if they were all the same eh?!

  • Great post! I recently got caught up in worrying that my baby isn’t as big as everyone else’s and everyone comments how “petite” she is but like you said someone has to be at the top and bottom of the scale, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. The main thing is that she’s a happy baby!

  • Each baby is unique. And those stats in the red book are the parents’ worst enemy. We already worry about so much stuff… As long as baby is happy, well done! Baba is always the opposite, he is part of the fatty babies. I wondered for some time if I was not feeding him too much, but he seems to be hungry. And if I feed him less, then he asks more at night! #FartGlitter

  • It also depends on the efficiency of the placenta- apparently. All of mine were big babies, despite me and J being relatively small, and they followed fairly high percentiles. Now they are middle to small amongst their peers! So, as you say, as long as they are content and happy, don’t stress about the red book! Xx #fartglitter

  • I’ve had issues the other way. The HV told me to cut down on the healthy food I was feeding my baby. To which I told her, no. I know that Edith is bigger than a lot of babies her age but both of us were big babies and she’s perfectly healthy. She’s happy meeting all her milestones so, so what. I totally agree with the red book not being the bible it claims to be. Every child is different and as long as the parents are happy and have no concerns and the child is healthy then who cares!

    I love posts like this. They let other mum’s know they’re doing the right thing by there baby! 🙂

  • OMG the sleepless nights and stressful moments I’ve had over this topic! My worry is I’m 6 foot tall and my tots donor is 5 10 so we don’t really have the genetics. Although saying that a half Asian kid is stereo typically smaller. Ahh it’s stressful though. Especially since his growth slowed after I stopped exclusively expressing at 6 months…so there’s an extra layer of mum guilt. Sigh.


  • my “big fat baby” (I love a proper chubby baby!) is even smaller than yours – he’s just on the 0.4 percentile and shows no sign of changing that. I’ve actually just been working on a post about it as, like you, I’ve personally never found his weight (or lack of). My husband is 6’2″ so having a petite boy has been more of a surprise, but he’s happy and clearly healthy so really why does it matter?! that silly red book gets in the way of real life! #fartglitter

  • I think it’s great you wrote about having a healthy smaller child because you re right, mothers worry about it all the time: Also I completely agree that there is lots of pressure on how big and fat your baby is. I always had the completely opposite. Both my babies were so fat that once the midwife couldn’t even plot my son’s weight in the graph 🙂 I was actually worried about him being too fat but there was nothing I could do because he was exclusively breastfed at that point! On the other hand, my nephew eats really well and yet he is very petite and my sister is constantly worrying about it. He is perfectly fine though. Pancakes make me happy too 🙂 x #bigpinklink

  • The only thing the pediatrician cares about is if they stay on their curve, whatever their curve might be. Babies come in all shapes and sizes.
    And that everything they munch on to make those perfectly petite bodies is nutritious.

  • I needed to read this today, thank you. I produce weeny babies but Moo is extra weeny and there’s talk of reflux or allergies, gah. To me though she doesn’t seem scrawny or unwell or failing to thrive, she’s just her. I understand your quest for a fat baby though as they are GORGEOUS!!! #DreamTeam

  • I have quite a little one too. Piglet was born exactly average, but then immediately slipped to the 25th centile and stayed there. This caused some panic from the midwives at the start, but looking back now I see that he was always meant to be smaller. I am only 5ft 1in so clearly I was never going to produce some behemoth! #dreamteam #tribe

  • We all definitely get hooked up on the ‘what is normal’ and the averages of all things in life, let alone baby related. But the great thing about being parents is more than likely your instincts are the best things to go off. You know if there is something worryingly wrong with your baby and that’s all that matters. As long as they are happy and healthy within themselves. Lovely post putting things into perspective #fartglitter

  • I must admit I worried quite a bit especially with the youngest. I obsessed and worried about that growth chart as well. It didn’t help that he was and still is such a picky eater but a good friend remarked the same to me – that he must take after me and I am small. Then I just stopped worrying, as long as he is healthy and happy, that’s all that matters. #bigpinklink

  • Love this post and I wish when I had my daughter 15 years ago I could of read it! I was told from the moment she was born she was too small, she was always between the 2nd and 9th percentile, god how I would of loved to throw that red book away!! In the end I taught myself to stop worrying and comparing and honestly to stop listening to unhelpful comments, today she is a beautiful, all in proportion young lady! Please if anyone is worrying about the size of their baby … dont!!. #dreamteam
    Abby at http://www.peppermintcove.com

  • Oh the traumas we have had with that bloody centile line. Admittedly Toby wasn’t actually on the line for a good portion of his life, but he followed his line, just off the chart (apparently that’s not the worst thing ever) anywho I spent way too many months fretting over his weight (or lack thereof) and getting upset at weigh ins. After months of high calorie formula and fortified foods he finally met the dam line. I know being under the line isn’t great but the pressure I piled on myself was ridiculous especially when you consider that his father and I are short arses and his sister was only ever in the lower centiles. I think I needed to remember, that actually petite babies are ok. Wise words my dear xx #bigpinklink

  • Popple looks so happy, love that photo! There can be a lot of unnecessary worrying about that LINE! I am sure it does signal certain alerts to consultants, but overall, at the little end or the big end is not worth fretting over. Unless your told otherwise. Thank you for linking up to the #DreamTeam x

  • This is brilliant – Emma was a tiny baby and I had all kinds of questions about her weight which made me worried whether she was getting enough food etc. Now she is 15 months, it’s all worked out very well and she is doing great – but this post would have been the biggest comfort to read at the time. Thank you for linking up to #dreamteam

  • Bravo for you. Toss the books aside. Common sense should win. We had two big fat babies — their rolls had rolls. The Mrs., she breast fed like a champ. When little was 1 year old, she weighed 22 pounds. When she was 2, she weighed 22 pounds, 3 ounces. The nurse was horrified! Called for the doc immediately. When all that really happend is she grew into her weight, healthfully. Enjoy every moment. I’m petite, and I do alright! M’wah! #fartglitter

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