In Which I Prevail Upon the Internets for Wisdom » Teeny Manolo

In Which I Prevail Upon the Internets for Wisdom

By Glinda

All right, I’ve got a problem.

Well, at least both grandmothers think I have a problem. And when two grandmas think you have a problem, it does really become a problem in more ways than one, if you know what I mean.

I’ll cut right to the chase.  My daughter, she is among the teeniest of Teeny Manolos.

She wasn’t born extremely small, a bit less than seven pounds, a week before her due date.  She was breastfed exclusively until eight months, half formula and half breastmilk for the next month, and then formula exclusively.  I’ll write about my adventures in pumping at another time.

Suffice it to say that girlfriend isn’t really toeing the line in the weight department.  She actually lost weight from her 9 month well-baby to the 12 month well-baby exam.  She rings in at an unimpressive 18 pounds.  Which puts her in the 6th percentile for weight.  She’s in the 14th for height, but she’s never been past the 20th percentile in any category since birth.  Her doctor showed me her plot points on the growth chart, and she is advancing up the curve as she is supposed to.  She’s just on the lower end of it.

Developmentally, she’s right on track in every other way.  She began walking at 10.5 months, and can clap and wave and grasp small objects like nobody’s business.  She’s not talking in words, but her brother pulled the same crap, and didn’t talk until almost 18 months.  When he did, he spoke in perfectly formed sentences, so I’ll cut her a bit of slack on that one.

I would definitely describe her as a picky eater, and not a hearty eater, either.  I think our main problem right now is that she refuses to eat anything she can’t pick up herself.  She is so NOT ready to feed herself with a spoon, though.  I’ve tried and it just ends up in lots of wailing and teeth-gnashing and food on the floor.  She’s much too fond of flinging things onto the floor at this point.

I will add that my husband and myself, we are not small people.  Not in height, or at this stage in our lives, girth.  I’ve always been, ahem, “big-boned” and my husband is a former defensive lineman.  Which is to say, you would never pick a fight with either of us in a bar.  As for the Munchkin, he was always in the 90th percentile or above for height and weight as a baby.  He is now very tall and very, very slim.  However, both sets of gradparents, and great-grandparents, for that matter, are all quite small.  My husband and I are familial aberrations, if you will.

So, it has come to the point where one grandmother is offering to pay for specialists to run tests on baby girl, while the other keeps clucking and making noises about “failure to thrive” and that kind of annoying talk that implicates I am a bad, bad, mother.  Never mind that the child is as loud and rambunctious as any group of drunk bikers. 

Should I worry?  Should I call and order some specialists like my MIL wants me to?  Is it a grandma thing? 

What say you, dear readers?  The readers of the Manolosphere are well-known to be the sharpest crayons in the box, so I await your advice.

17 Responses to “In Which I Prevail Upon the Internets for Wisdom”

  1. Ruth Says:

    I say no. Your pediatrician has shown you the growth curve and she’s following the curve steadily. SOMEONE has to be on the bottom of the chart. (My own younger son was always way down there too.) If developmentally and behaviorally she’s a typical toddler, has plenty of energy, isn’t frequently sick, has normal poops, tell the grandmas to shut up. Don’t subject her to a bunch of tests.

    Ahem. Sorry to be so vehement. I’m a speech therapist in early intervention and I see a lot of tiny little kids getting labeled with feeding disorders and going through all kinds of invasive tests and they’re FINE. It drives me nuts.

    Try not to worry.

  2. marvel Says:

    Go with what your pediatrician says. The only concerning thing in your history is that she lost weight from 9 to 12 months. (Do you mean she weighed less at 12 mo than 9 mo, or that her percentile ranking was lower?) Growing children should not lose weight. However, it sounds like this was the time when you were transitioning her feeds and she might have started solid foods–this can be a tricky time for feeding.

    If you had brought your daughter into the pediatric practice I trained in for residency, and we charted a weight loss from 9 to 12 months, we would have talked about feeding her high-calorie foods (cheese cubes! eggs! little pieces of hot dogs!) and frequent snacks, and brought her back in about a month later for a weight check to document that she was gaining. (or, there might have been an error in one of the weights, which, if they didn’t re-weigh her at the 12 month visit, a recheck would hopefully catch).

    There is nothing wrong with being small, as long as she is otherwise healthy and growing well. But I would keep an eye on the weight loss, and make sure she is gaining again. If her next weight is fine, she’s fine.

  3. marvel Says:

    P.S. You’re not a bad mom.

    P.P.S. You could also set up an appointment with your pediatrician just to discuss words you can use with your relatives. Find out what “failure to thrive” means, why your daughter doesn’t fit the definition, how you would know if your daughter should ever meet that definition, what you would do then, etc. It will give you some help in talking with the people who are stressing you out.

  4. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    I’m with the other ladies — it’s not surprising that she would have lost a bit of weight, as babies typically become a LOT more active after their 9th month. If her pediatrician isn’t concerned, and she’s got lots of energy and is bright-eyed and active, then don’t fret.

    I can understand her wanting to feed herself. The Wee One is the same way, but we stick mostly to finger foods. A spoon will come later when he has a bit more dexterity.

  5. Sarah Says:

    My son has consistently been at the 10% mark on weight since he was born, after coming into the world at 7 lbs 3 oz. The pediatrician has never said that he needs to gain more or showed any concern about it – same as yours, she has simply said “he’s on his own track for his growth.”

    He’s also the same about his food – doesn’t quite get the spoon thing (he is 17 months old) and doesn’t want to be fed AT ALL. So I just put out a plate of whatever we’re eating, give him a spoon and/or a fork that he can try out if he is so inclined, and let him go hog wild. He knows if he’s still hungry or if he’s full, and will hand us his plate or bowl when he’s done.

    Long story short, grammas need to butt out sometimes!

  6. Glinda Says:

    @Ruth- I appreciate your vehemence! I’m feeling sort of the same way. Why subject her to a bunch of painful tests?

    @marvel- My mom, before going to the hospital admin side of things, was an RN for fifteen years, so she knew exactly what she was saying. And I knew she was wrong for saying it, and told her so. I neglected to say that we do have a follow up appt in two weeks, in which she will get her 2nd flu shot and be re-weighed. I’m hoping the weight loss was because of the three illnesses she got from her brother in the time between checkups. Thank you for your insight, it helps.

    @Sarah- Yes, they can be opinionated little buggers, can’t they? And I’m not necessarily talking about the kids! 🙂

  7. KESW Says:

    I could have written this post verbatim. My daughter is almost 1 year old and probably 17 lbs soaking wet. I know personally at least two other little girls in the same boat. Yet they are all happy, healthy, and rambunctious. I say don’t worry. Give her all the high calorie finger foods you can think of (hard boiled eggs are awesome for us) and don’t sweat it. Is she still on formula? You may want to ask your pedi if she should stick with it a little longer. I recently read Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck and I found the section on solid foods (while a little preachy/pie-in-the-sky) helpful. And if nothing else, our daughters can be tiny freaks of nature together!

  8. Laurel Says:

    What Ruth and Marvel said. My children (3.5 years and 18 mos) have also been skinny babies.(One was 5th percentile for a while, and the other dropped clean off the charts for a time.) The pediatrician has long reassured me that, as long as they’re developing normally and following their own growth curves, where they are on the curve is not so big a deal. He did become concerned when my daughter briefly lost weight at a similar age to yours. In our case I think she really was ready for solids and had stopped nursing as much as I thought. We did that high-fat diet and mixed cheese, oils, cream cheese, avocados, etc. into everything. She packed on about 1.5 lbs in a month and totally impressed the doc. I don’t know if that would work for your willful eater but it sounds like she’ll be just fine regardless. Things may have changed since your mom was a nurse. I hope she and your MIL give you a break!

    (W/r/t the eating, my kids have been very stubborn about feeding themselves. I just give lots of finger foods and let them fling. The cleanup is a drag but it seems to result in a smooth transition to solids and eventually utensils. Just don’t look too closely at my floor…)

  9. Awesome Mom Says:

    You need to plug your ears and hum a song whenever you are near them. If you Ped was freaking out then maybe you would want to freak out too, but since everything else is fine and she is just a little peanut then there really is no need to worry. Making the transition to self feeding solid foods is a rough one and often very tricky. I am still having issues with my 18 month old because he is flipping picky about what he will put in his mouth and will not let me feed anything to him with the exception of ice cream.

  10. J Says:

    You know, another factor, besides her being sick a few times, and transitioning to solid foods, could be the walking. I think they burn a lot of calories running around like goons, and maybe the three things combined were enough to make her lose weight. I agree with those above who said that a baby that age should not be losing weight, so there is definitely reason to pay attention, but you are, you have a follow up visit scheduled, so I wouldn’t let your moms get to you. Maybe learn to tell them, ‘she’s fine’, and not more info than that. (AS IF anyone could get away with that, I know. Might be worth a try, tho.)

    Nothing wrong with being puny. If she decides to be a cheerleader, she’ll be the one they throw in the air. 😉

  11. Glinda Says:

    @KESW- Yes, we shall start a tiny freaks of nature club! Good to know mine is not the only one! And yes, she is on toddler formula, not milk, as she needs those extra calories. Expensive as hell, though.

    @Laurel- I do try to shove as many high-fat foods into her as I can. Mashed potatoes with butter and cream, potato and cheese pierogi, grilled cheese sandwiches, you name it! I hope that it works. And, I have no choice but to let her fling, else she would never eat.

    @Awesome Mom- Heh, mine doesn’t really even like ice cream that much. And you’re right, it’s tough to sit there all day and try to gues what they will and won’t eat, when you need to spend time preparing it.

    @J- I also think the walking is a huge factor. The child never stops moving. Even in her sleep she moves! 🙂

    Thank you everyone, you’ve made me feel much better! 🙂

  12. marvel Says:

    Hey Glinda–poor baby has had a rough few months!

    There is no way you can predict what a child this age will and won’t eat. One day she will eat nothing but Cheezits and the next day she’ll throw them all on the floor and wait for you to guess she wants banana. The good news is that even if children this age don’t eat a lot of variety on any given day, over a week or two they will naturally average out. So it’s okay if she eats nothing but pasta on Monday, because on Friday she’ll eat the peas. As one of the best pediatricians I ever worked with used to say, it is the parents’ job to put a healthy selection of food in front of the child. It is the child’s job to eat. (She would also recommend newspaper on the floor at mealtimes.) With our kids, we tried to find a rotation of several foods that they would usually like, and put 2 or 3 of those out. Since it’s always a guess, they were usually easy-to-prepare, like frozen sausages warmed in the microwave, cut cheese, graham crackers, plain pasta, frozen peas, sliced banana, etc. Toddlers’ tummies are only as big as their fist, so they won’t eat much at any given time. They should be offered 3 meals and 3 snacks a day.

    It is tough when one feels “caught” between two authority figures, such as one’s doctor and one’s mother. When I have encountered this tension in a patient or patient’s parent(s), the best way I have found to help them negotiate between the two is to find common points of agreement and the sticking points of disagreement. Sometimes resolving the tension is easy–oh, everything your sister told you is completely true about Coxsackie, but we think your child has Kawasaki! Or, your grandmother thinks you should be giving your child juice because when your grandmother was raising your mother, the only way children could get some vitamins was in fortified juice. Now, it is in the formula, so that is why you do not have to give juice. And everybody’s happy! Sometimes it’s harder, but usually things can be worked out. Which is why I suggested enlisting the help of your pediatrician in responding to your relatives, if you feel further response is necessary.

  13. TYGran Says:

    No, I wouldn’t worry just yet. Failure to thrive means than she is also not advancing in motor skills and developmental markers, which clearly doesn’t apply…she seems to be developing fine, just low weight. Just as someone has to be the 90% percentile, someone also has to be in the 10% percentile.
    She’s active…give her higher calorie foods, juice, regular fat milk and let the peditrician decide if she needs a specialist. A vitamin wouldn’t hurt, but really doesn’t have much to do with gaining weight. It would just insure she is getting the vitamins and minerals she needs. I say she’s fine…and as a grandmother, will remind myself again NOT to make my son and DIL feel inadequate. : ) You’re doing just fine!

  14. Seana Says:

    Your pediatrician isn’t worried and you shouldn’t be either. If there is more than one doctor in your pediatricians office you could request that they also review her chart to give you a second opinion, but I don’t think it’s necessary. The grandparents job is to fuss over the children, so let them fuss. You are the one who spends all the time with your daughter and if you are not worried then there is nothing to worry about. Your daughter will eat when she’s hungry. My older son was 18 lbs by the time he was 3 mos, and now he is so thin he only outweighs his little brother (3 years younger) by 5 lbs. He is not a picky eater, he just doesn’t eat much. Children have a way of getting what they need, and your daughter will do just that.

  15. AuroraB Says:

    Don’t worry about it, and don’t pressure the little one. She’s busy, climbing on everything, running, throwing, chasing…
    We started feeding our little one in ‘courses’ – first a veggie course, then a meat course, then a carb course (each course is like 2 tablespoons) but we get her to eat a lot of variety that way!

    Don’t let the Grannies freak you out.

  16. raincityjazz Says:

    I’m a mother of six and grandmother of twelve. Some of my children were slow to grow, near or off the bottom of the charts, etc. They are all now normal and bigger than normal sized adults. The grandchildren were the same; several of them were very small, but caught up and now as pre-teens or teens they are at the middle or top of the charts! Your child will almost certainly be fine, and not even necessarily smaller than average as an adult.

    Relax. You sound like a wonderful parent.

    It can be tricky feeding babies who insist on eating only what they can pick up and feed themselves. If you are worried about baby getting enough of some particular thing – meat or sweet potatoes or whatever – just stir in a little instant baby cereal, rice or oatmeal, until the food is a holdable lump instead of an impossible running paste. My children cheerfully fed themselves almost every kind of food this way. Then they would drink lots of water, juice and milk from the bottle and sleep happily for hours.

    Don’t worry about whether foods “go together” – babies don’t know that you’re not supposed to firm up their pureed turkey with rice cereal, or their sweet potatoes with almond meal. They’ll love being able to eat the food all by themselves; and you will be happy to see them full of energy and getting bigger every day!

    PS One of the best “candies” for all ages of growing children is nut buttter mixed with about the same amount of honey, fruit puree, maple syrup, molasses or agave, then thickened with dry powdered milk and rolled into yummy into balls or logs. These nutritious treats are packed with protein and calories and taste wonderful too. Some good combinations are walnuts with applesauce, peanut butter with molasses or dates, almonds with apricots or maple syrup, and hazelnuts with chocolate – or cheat and use nutella. If you are trying to avoid dairy, soy flour makes a good thickener. Carry them in sandwich bags for a better alternative to commercial candy or overly-sweetened granola bars.

  17. Glinda Says:

    @marvel- Thank you again, that is excellent advice. And, I hadn’t thought of putting newspaper on the floor, but I think I will start!

    @TYGran- Thank you! I’m sure it must be hard to be a grandma and have to sit and watch things happen, you are right, we are doing the best we can!

    @Seana- You are right, I should just relax a bit more. The grandmas and their double-barreled assaults have me more jumpy than usual.

    @AuroraB- You are right, I shouldn’t let them get to me as much. Believe it or not, I’m a pretty sensitive person! Shocking, I know!

    @raincityjazz- Oh, what wonderful suggestions, I will certainly be following your tips for fortifying her food!

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