We live in a society where people have to deal with fat shaming on a regular basis. Body shaming, in general, is something no one should have to deal with, but an interesting subset of body shaming that, perhaps, is even a little surprising, is shame directed at those who are considered too small. Yes, this is a thing. There are lots of struggles every parent of a skinny kid goes through as a result of, essentially, skinny shaming. Struggles that the parent of a "normal kid," (whatever that means, because I'm pretty positive that isn't a thing) wouldn't necessarily experience.
Most of those struggles involve copious amounts of guilt. Even though, in order to have a 50th percentile there need to be kids on both ends of the spectrum, the idea or image of a "chubby baby" is associated with health. People assume that baby is getting nourishment and constant love. The image of a skinny baby, however, is associated with malnourishment. People assume a skinny baby is being mistreated and isn't receiving the nourishment necessary to remain healthy. (Isn't it interesting, how completely opposite our views tend to be when we become adults and look at adult bodies?) These assumptions can leave many mothers thinking that their skinny baby is skinny because of them; that they're doing something wrong; that there must be an important step in feeding their kid that they're somehow skipping; that their baby isn't healthy when, truth be told, they are.
Listen, being a parent means feeling a lot more guilt than you've ever felt before in your life. I guess that's to be expected; you're entirely responsible for another life, right? When you're dealing with "failure to thrive," or just a kid who is small for their age, you are constantly asking yourself if you've done enough as a parent or if you missed something, somewhere along the way, that could've made things easier on your kid.
It ain't fun, to say the least. Here are nine other struggles parents of skinny kids have to contend with:
Guilt Over Breastfeeding Or Bottle Feeding
Did I feed my kid enough? Should I have supplemented with formula? Would breastmilk have been better? Was I not listening to my baby when they were crying? I have had to see a therapist over this one, to be honest.
The Dreaded "Wake To Feed"
I remember, just a few months into my daughter's life, things had finally settled into a routine and she was sleeping through the night. I was thrilled! Six to eight hours straight of sleep? Yes, please. Then our doctor noticed she was dropping off her growth curve, and I was suddenly asked to wake my soundly sleeping baby every two hours to breastfeed her. That's right, I had to set an alarm to wake us both up. It was awful, and it didn't even help.
The Stress Of Being At The Bottom Of The Growth Curve
The regular weigh-ins and the worry that you haven't been diligent enough with getting food in your kid and the potential next steps that the pediatrician may or may not recommend; they were all things I obsessed over, for a long time.
Trying To Make Diapers Fit Perfectly Around Their Legs
Whether it's cloth diapers or disposable, this can be a challenge. I mean, good grief, you should've seen the leaks that happened. My daughter was still in newborn sized diaper covers when she was five months old.
Needing To Justify Their Weight Every Time Someone Comments On How Tiny They Are
I always have a comeback ready for when another mom inevitably comments on how tiny my daughter is. The innocent question, "Has she always been this way?" sends my heart racing as I have to tell them that she was born at the 50th percentile and dropped off the charts, inexplicably, during her first year of life.
Feeling Like You Need To Let Them Eat Any Time They're Hungry, Ever
If my daughter is hungry at 4:45, I feel like I have to feed her at 4:45. Why? Because if I tell her no, she may not be hungry at 5:30, when dinner is ready, and then she's lost important, necessary calories for the day. I don't know if this is only my kid, but if she waits long enough, she just stops being hungry and I can't risk that. It's stressful!
Bacon, Butter, Full Fat Everything
Sorry, what? You want six pieces of bacon, honey? Absolutely! We also used to add a few tablespoons of heavy cream to my daughter's sippy cups of milk. I honestly felt like I needed to "fatten" my kid up by giving her sometimes, arguably, "unhealthy" things. My goal was just to get her to eat, and not necessarily care what she was eating and, of course, that would leave me feeling guilty, too.
Finding Clothes That Are Long Enough But Slim Enough
Do you know that, up until about six months ago, my daughter still fit into skirts that were for 9-12 months? She's four. She's currently in underwear for 18-24 months. Thank goodness for adjustable waist bands, that's all I have to say.
Wondering If Not Making Them Finish That Last Meal Was The Right Thing To Do
Obviously, you don't want to make your kid sick, but are they really full? Could a few extra bites something fatty help boost their weight, just a little? It's difficult to balance what they want (and teach them autonomy over their body) while simultaneously making sure they get everything they need.