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About Those “What a Big Baby!” Comments

Jun30

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Dear Amalah,

Advice Smackdown ArchivesDoes it go without saying that I love your column so, so much?  I’m obsessed.  Thank you for your wisdom!

I am Mom to a sweet, happy, chubby, delicious baby girl who is almost a year old.  I’m a SAHM, so she and I walk around the city together a lot and talk to strangers frequently.  I do my best to be kind and respectful to the folks we meet, and most are kind and respectful back to us.

Lately, many folks have been commenting on the size of my precious baby.  “She’s a big girl,” they say.  Or: “that’s a chubby little boy you have there.”  Or just, in passing: “Big baby!”

She is in the 75% percentile, and we have been assured by the pediatrician that she is quite healthy–yet, I am tired of hearing about how big she is.  Am I being too sensitive?  I don’t think anyone means harm, but I’m offended and angry that people want to comment on her size, rather than her cute smile.  I fear that this is only the beginning of her being judged on how she looks, and I’m also dealing with my own size issues as I lose the baby weight.

Is there a funny, smart way to respond to these people, to show my daughter my confidence and love?  Should I just ignore their comments?  I’m new at the Mom thing, and you and your readers are wise.

Thanks so much!
Yours,
Mo

Oh, please just ignore people and comments like this. There’s no “winning” here with the perfect witty put-down, in fact, you’re more likely to end up offending someone who genuinely meant no offense. Because really: no one — or MOSTLY no one — is actually calling your daughter fat, nor are they implying that you, as the person who birthed and feed her, are fat. Which I think might be part of what irks you a little? Since you mentioned your own post-baby body issues?

I gave birth to a 9 pound, 15 ounce baby. I was shocked. I was…actually kind of horrified, like I’d done something wrong or eaten too much or…I don’t know. I was tired and not making a lot of sense. But I also experienced a twinge of self-consciousness every time I told someone Noah’s birth weight and got gasps and shrieks and OMGs! in return. Yeah, he was really big. You wanna fight about it?

Not much later, I was fending off the opposite type of comment: He’s so skinny! Look at those skinny legs! What a string bean! Tell your mommy to feed you more! Oh my God, SERIOUSLY?

Ezra, on the other hand, was a bundle of extra chins and fat rolls for awhile, and we constantly got the sort of comments you get now, despite his birth weight being more than two pounds LESS THAN Noah’s. If I had to choose, I’d go with the WHO’S A CHUBBY BAYBEEEEE version rather than the accusation that my child was underfed, but I responded to both kinds of comments the exact. Same. Way. “Thank you. He’s a very healthy baby.”

People comment on babies’ size (girls AND boys) because…it’s easy. When they meet your daughter, she’s a chubby blank slate with rubber-band thighs and people LIKE chubby babies with rubber-band thighs.  They might not be immediately sure of her age or gender or name or any other talking point, so they just default to “WHAT A BIG GIRL!” (The same words that one day, your preschool-aged daughter will hear and beam with pride over, because “big” just means different things to little kids.) They also have no idea how big babies are “supposed” to be, which is why you might get one “WHAT A BIG GIRL!” comment just minutes after somebody else guesses her age and shaves off six months, or asks if she’s potty-trained yet, or some other off-the-wall thing.

I admit I’ve squealed and made a big thing over baby chub and cheeks and bellies, though I promise I always mean it as a compliment, particularly when it comes to those delicious thunderthighed babies who I would probably gobble up whole if you gave me half a chance NOM NOM NOM, and I don’t ever intend to imply that a baby’s size has anything to do with food intake or diet or self-control or any of the loaded issues that we adults have gotten all tied up with weight. I really doubt most people commenting on your daughter’s size mean to imply anything like that either, even if that’s what you’re hearing. But!  I’ll try to bite my tongue next time, if you promise to try to take most of these comments in the spirit in which they were intended, even if the delivery leaves something to be desired.

Now, if the comment DOES cross some kind of line — your mother-in-law chiding your daughter at the table about how much she eats, or someone using the word “diet” even in a teasing manner, definitely feel free to put the kibosh on that. But don’t worry about wit or humor or anything. Just look the person in the eye and say it as straightforward as possible. “She’s a perfectly healthy size for her age and we — and her doctor — think she’s perfect. I’d appreciate it if you tried not to make comments implying otherwise, thank you.” I find leveling assholes down bluntly and directly at the kneecaps is more effective than wasting energy on clever comebacks that might end up sailing right over their (obnoxious, oversized) heads.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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61 Responses to “About Those “What a Big Baby!” Comments”

  1. Chloe Jun 30 at 2:19 pm Reply Reply

    I get the “what a peanut!” comment all the time because my daughter is small- it’s pretty annoying, all right. People should stick to a brief “how cute!” and then move along.

  2. Kate Jun 30 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, I hear this. My son was 25 lbs at six months old and is now a beast of a 15 month old at 30 lbs! I got the big baby comments all the time and, for someone who still hadn’t lost the 60 POUNDS she gained during pregnancy at the six month mark, I somehow internalized these big baby comments as reflecting on me. But, of course, they had nothing to do with me because, as Amy says, people love big, chubby, rolly babies. They’re cute! Also, I had a little bit of a reality check when talking with a friend who had a 6 pounder who was only 9 pounds at 10 weeks. The anxiety she had about him not gaining fast enough and being able to keep up her supply (she was nursing) made me realize that I’ll take the chubby baby over the stress of a tiny baby any day.

  3. Kate Jun 30 at 2:27 pm Reply Reply

    No, correction: he was 25 lbs at 9 months, not 6. See! I’m still self-conscious enough not to make him seem bigger than he is!

  4. Stephanie Jun 30 at 2:48 pm Reply Reply

    I had a 9 lbs 9 oz baby, and I too was horrified.  How did this happen, was my immediate thought.  And everyone talks about it and gasps when they hear.  But whatever! She slept well from the start so phttbttt!

    Our friend who had a 6 pounder now has a baby with major thunder thighs and at six months is almost as heavy as my 12 month old. 

    My point? don’t worry. People will always make comments and as long as it’s not blatantly negative, just brush it off or use Amalah’s suggestion of “she’s very healthy”

  5. Marianne Jun 30 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve had the opposite problem. My girl was a very healthy newborn but weighed in at 5lb. 9oz., and she continues to be very petite. Off the charts developmentally, but a wee thing. I get so tired of people going on about how tiny she is and it’s hard to not feel like they are judging me in some way.

  6. Sarah Jun 30 at 3:17 pm Reply Reply

    This article is so timely and after reading it I think I need to chill out a little. My mother-in-law keeps talking about my almost 3 month old son’s growing thighs and double chin in a sort of kidding proud way. Like, “Thank God the kid finally has some meat on his bones!!” I would rather not talk about his size, but about his health as well. This would be where the chilling out comes into play. I have, however, put the kibosh on calling my child a “pig” when he nurses for a long time or is still hungry after a bottle. He is not a pig, he is just hungry.

  7. Karen Jun 30 at 3:31 pm Reply Reply

    An older member of my family once told me that when she was growing up (in the Depression), people wanted fat, chunky babies because it was a sign that you had enough money to feed your family. I suspect this is why we tend to hear older folks cheering on the “chunky baby.” Probably many other cultures are the same way. It’s a compliment (most of the time!!).

  8. Emily Jun 30 at 3:43 pm Reply Reply

    Around here I get comments a lot on how “big” my little guy is too. Except he was 5 lbs when born and has been in the 5th percentile for height and weight ever since so he’s definitely NOT a big baby! most of the people who comment though are older and I figure they just don’t have a really clear idea anymore of the size of an average toddler… Don’t sweat it!

  9. Sunshine Jun 30 at 3:51 pm Reply Reply

    When my son (my first) was around 6 months old a couple stopped me in the grocery store to tell me what a ‘fatso baby’ I had. And then brought over other people to look. No, I’m not kidding, and no, five years later, I’m still not over it. He was and is perfectly healthy and on track to be approximately 6′ 7″. Sometimes people are morons.

  10. Melissa Jun 30 at 4:01 pm Reply Reply

    My baby girl was born at 36w and was 6 lb 10 oz. At 1 month, she was 50th percentile for height and 65th for weight. At 4 months, she was 80th percentile for both. My pediatrician said that if she is within a few percentage points height/weight wise, she will always look proportional. He reminded me that for a baby to be on the 80th percentile, another baby has to be at the 20th and so on.
    Here’s the thing, she has roll upon roll and people always tell me what a peanut she is. A peanut! I think it’s because she has like 10 hairs on her round, round head. :) I think most people that comment about her size just want to make coversation. I don’t think they mean any harm. I always say she is a very healthy, growing girl.

  11. HereWeGoAJen Jun 30 at 4:38 pm Reply Reply

    I’d like to second the “people have no idea” point. My daughter was 97% for size (height and weight) for quite a while. Now, she’s 75% for weight, 90% for height (her daddy is 6’10″ so I think we’ve got a tall one in our future) and people ask me if she’s three (she’s eighteen months). And then, ten minutes later, people ask me if she can walk and seem astounded that she’s a year and a half old. It’s the same thing with pregnancy size, people have no idea.

  12. Jaymee Jun 30 at 4:42 pm Reply Reply

    I would rather hear, “What a big boy!” Than hear, “He’s SOOOOOO SMALL! Do you feed him enough? He should be eating more!” My son is 9 months and weighs 15.7 pounds, yes he is small. He doesn’t even make the weight chart and is only in the 10th % for height(25.5 inches). The fact is, babies come in all different shapes and sizes. One is not better than the other, and I don’t think people really mean to hurt any feelings when they say something about the size. That’s just the easiest thing to comment on.

  13. MommiePie Jun 30 at 4:54 pm Reply Reply

    I birthed a 10lb, 6oz chub-a-dub. He weighed in at 18lbs at 4 months old. It was hard to have to carry him around everywhere! At one point, around 6 months or so, his legs were too chubby to even fit in the Bumbo chair! He’s now almost 18 months and is still the largest in his 1 – 2 year room at daycare. People comment as they pass us in the stroller, “THAT’S a BUUUIIIGGG Baby!” He’s healthy. Babies are supposed to be roly poly as far as I’m concerned. I kind of stick out my chest with pride when people comment on his size. You have to be secure and know that you are doing the best for your baby and she will be the size she will be. And you will love her no matter what and that her size, whether big or small will provide her with advantages that she can use later in life. People just feel compelled to comment on babies for some strange reason. They say things they would never say to an adult. They would comment on the size of my son’s thighs and say they were so cute! How come no one ever tells me my chubby thighs are cute?!

  14. CE Jun 30 at 5:17 pm Reply Reply

    I let the comments roll, except one great aunt. I didn’t know her from Adam and she said how “us big girls have to stay together!” to my 7 month old, and then said how she was going to be big like her granddaughter. Who is an obese toddler. My kid is 50th percentile! I was showing someone else NICU pictures of her with a feeding tube (she was a bit premature) and she said, “SHE HAD A FEEDING TUBE?! BIG AS SHE IS NOW?!” Really, lady? REALLY???

  15. Bliz Jun 30 at 5:24 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t have children yet, but I was a big, chubby baby and have, for whatever reason, always been proud of it. (I did grow into a normal-sized kid and a normal-sized adult.) Actually, just two days ago I asked my mom if she also saw a resemblance between my cousin’s toddler and me at that age. She tactfully replied, “well, you had a… different body type.” Anyway, at the time my nicknames were Chumpster and Thunderthighs and I always thought it was funny. Best to just go with it, I think.

  16. martha Jun 30 at 5:27 pm Reply Reply

    for me, the comments got out of control with my neighbor–a 70something woman who had a LOT of comments about my chub baby. When my daughter was 6 months old, Ms. V told me that she had to go on a diet because she was so overweight, fat was going to build up around her heart and cause cardiac disease! Also, her legs were so fat she’d never be able to walk. Needless to say, neither of those predictions have come true! I just smiled and told her that if her doctor ever expressed concern, we’d address it at that point. In the meantime, kept my distance as much as possible.

  17. Amy in StL Jun 30 at 6:01 pm Reply Reply

    As someone who doesn’t have kids and really hasn’t spent any time around kids, well, I’m often at a loss for words when at a gathering where they’re playing pass the baby. I don’t think really young babies are cute, so other than lying I usually resort to picking out something and commenting on it. “Such blue eyes” is usually safe and I honestly thought “He’s so tiny” was safe too. I have weight issues; so I probably wouldn’t comment on a big baby unless they were really long.
    Don’t always assume that everyone is mean and horrible. Most people are just looking for something to say because saying nothing is usually interpreted as mean.

  18. Melissa Jun 30 at 6:18 pm Reply Reply

    Just for the record- as someone without kids – it has never EVER crossed my mind that a comment about the size of a baby- big or small – was a judgment in ANY WAY.

    I find it hard to comment on anything else…unless they have a lot of hair which I think is adorable.

    Mostly I’m just amazed at how small they are compared to adults.

    I swear, every time I read this blog, it makes me think twice about saying anything to anyone, beyond “Hello”. And then people will probably be offended that I didn’t comment or ask about something.

  19. Becky Jun 30 at 6:41 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with a lot of the others that most people are just trying to make conversation and don’t mean anything by it. Yeah, they could just say he/she is cute, but that makes for a pretty short conversation. I sometimes make a comment about a child’s height/weight/eye color/hair, etc. because it gives the parent a chance to comment/brag for a bit.”

    As someone without kids, reading some of the questions/comments on this blog makes me wonder how many times I’ve inadvertently offended people.

  20. tasterspoon Jun 30 at 8:29 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Amy in StL – I don’t think babies are usually all that cute and it drives me nuts when I know the parent is just waiting for me to say theirs is the cutest baby I’ve ever seen, so I find myself casting around for some descriptor that feels honest. I’ll try to remember that size is off limits. And Peanut! Who knew?? This all reminds me of a kid who used to live in my apartment complex. He was the fattest baby I’ve ever seen. He was like Jabba the Hutt – no neck, just a pile of mashed potatoes from the top of his head down to his butt. He and his parents were splashing around at the pool when my husband and I first met them, and I swear we never said a word (I mean, what is there to say?), but we couldn’t take our eyes off him. Both because of how fat he was, but also because of how deliriously happy he was in the pool – he took such joy in splashing around, so we commented on what a good time he was having. His parents were clearly self conscious, because they made some joke about how his size didn’t hold him back or something – and I felt bad for them. I mean, he was a BABY, it’s not like we thought he was putting away cheesy poofs. Anyway, he since has grown into a very normal-sized toddler, good-looking, but man, I can’t forget how precious he was when he was a fat baby unselfconsciously playing in the water.

  21. tasterspoon Jun 30 at 8:33 pm Reply Reply

    To the original questioner, I think the response people are expecting, to all of the comments you noted, is “Thank you!” I mean, who drive-by insults a baby? I can almost guarantee that every one of those comments was meant as a compliment, nothing more.

  22. Rayne of Terror Jun 30 at 9:20 pm Reply Reply

    I have a giant baby, off the charts for height & weight. 9 lbs at birth, 27 lbs at 9 months. I always take those comments lightly and say thank you. Only once has anyone said he was a fat fatty fat unhealthy fat put him on a diet fat baby and it was a 1st time mom of a boy 3 weeks older than my son. We were at a graduation party & she brought it up over & over again. I just laughed and said MY dr says I’m not feeding him enough. My huz is 6’6″. My grandfather was 6’8″. My sons are going to be tall men and that’s that.

  23. annemarie Jun 30 at 9:26 pm Reply Reply

    I really think people just feel like they HAVE to comment on a baby. My baby was 11 pounds 9 ounces, but my husband and I are both over six feet, so… not unexpected. But yeah, big girl. Just smile and nod; you won’t see most of them again anyway!

  24. Kathleen Jun 30 at 10:15 pm Reply Reply

    It probably goes in the same category as making any comments on a pregnant woman’s appearance- you can’t and won’t win, which I didn’t understand until I was the commentee. That said, I can’t help and exclaim over other babies’ chub – because I am JEALOUS. I love my little chickenlegged (under-fifth-percentile weight/over 75th height) wonder, but anything resembling actual baby thighs and things pop out of my mouth that I KNOW the mom is going to take wrong – but they’re so cute and nommable and hormones and stupid lack of filter…. 

    So, maybe, just maybe, consider that? A little forgiveness for those of us who are controlling our urge to nom your child (which would be weirder, I think?) and thus failing to control our mouths?

  25. Valerie Jun 30 at 10:26 pm Reply Reply

    My son weighed 10 pounds, 2 1/2 ounces at birth. I’m rather small, so his size was unexpected and we were (are) quite the funny looking pair when I’m carrying him around.

    I always took the “OH WHAT A CHUBBY BABY” comments as a compliment — I expected them once I saw him and heard his birth weight.

    What I didn’t expect, however, was people making comments about how he was born. Perfect strangers asked me if I had a C-section or an episiotomy — and this happened multiple times! Not exactly appropriate conversation for the checkout line at Target.

  26. profmama Jun 30 at 11:55 pm Reply Reply

    Both my babies have been chub-a-lub, and i am the first to say so. When people say my daughter is a big girl, I say yes, yes she is with a smile. Fat babies are cute babies. If your baby eats well and is healthy, relax and enjoy, but snarl at anyone who suggests a diet! 

  27. Maria Jul 01 at 12:12 am Reply Reply

    My littl guy will be a year old on Monday, and sooooo many people say things like, “oh look at him, he’s HUGE!” “He’s such a big dude!” and even my father in law said this evening, “you’re a real husky guy!” Well, he’s not FAT by any stretch of the imagination. He was 8lb14 at birth, but he was long (22inches) and he’s always been solid. There’s nary a roll on him, and he can hardly keep a pair of pants on, they slip off him when he goes anywhere. But he’s brick-solid! The kid’s a lithe tank. Looking at him, there’s no way he deserves “huge” or “husky” so I have no idea how people can gauge his weight based on just looking at him. Who knows….

  28. Ellen Jul 01 at 12:34 am Reply Reply

    It’s what I say when I don’t know the mother well enough to ask if I can snack on baby fat rolls. It’s totally meant as a compliment on your beautiful healthy looking baby. And it gives me something to say other than just squee-ing and nomnomnom-ing.

  29. Olivia Jul 01 at 9:26 am Reply Reply

    Ignore them, or say, “Yup, she’s a healthy girl!” My baby is in the 20% range for age, and we get a lot of “She’s so tiny!” I just agree, because it’s true. I don’t think people say it in a negative way, I think it just an easy observation to make. And I often comment about other babies’ sizes because it’s interesting that babies the same age can be so different in size.

  30. MLB Jul 01 at 9:36 am Reply Reply

    All 3 of my kids were/are “big”, including my now 6.5 year old girl. She’s still at the top of the percentile charts for both height and weight. And I am incredibly proud of how tall and beautiful she is. She (and the boys) also got the big baby comment and it actually always made me happy because I a) thought chubby babies were adorable and b) it meant that she was eating/growing well, especially when she was breastfed. As a result I am guilty of saying the same thing to moms sometimes, but I always mean it as a compliment. 9 month olds in the 75th percentile are beautiful healthy babies and you should be proud.

  31. Sarah Jul 01 at 10:56 am Reply Reply

    Could someone please provide a list of what it IS safe to say to a pregnant woman or new mother? Because honestly…the touchiest people in the world.

  32. Kirsty Jul 01 at 12:03 pm Reply Reply

    Both my daughters were slightly premature (born at 8 months) and pretty small (4.8 lbs for the elder one, now a slightly-above-average height/average weight 8.5 year old and 5.2 lbs for the younger, now a way-above-average height, 25th percentile weight 6-year-old). The remarks that used to really bug me were when people doubted me about my older daughter’s age – when I said, for example, “9 months”, lots of people (stupid people) would say, “really? she looks much younger than that because she’s so small and skinny”. Grrrrrr
    As I said, both girls are now above average height (though slim for one and skinny for the other) but boy, that used to bug me! Yes, she was tiny, but so what? I also know how hard it can be when you’re not a natural “baby adorer” – I much prefer my daughters’ ages now, I don’t miss the baby stage AT ALL. When confronted with a baby, I try and focus on things like cute, big eyes, lovely hair, resemblances, smiling face, that kind of thing. I never comment on size unless I know the parents (a friend has a tiny, skinny, totally adorable 18-month-old and I always say how much I love skinny baby legs – I’ve no personal experience of chubby baby thighs!). I don’t think most people mean to be hurtful, though, so I would just let it go in general. Wow, long reply, sorry!

  33. Dawn Jul 01 at 1:36 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter was born at 9 lbs, 7 oz and 22 3/4 inches and my son came in at 10 lbs, 7 oz and 22 1/2 inches. So I started out with Big Babies. I’m not short and Daddy is 6’5″ so it was a foregone conclusion. My daughter was the chubby baby with lots of rolls on the lets and arms and the biggest chipmunk cheeks you’ve ever seen. Now she is well over 95th percentil for height and around 50th for weight (she’s 3.5 now). My son however has morphed into the long and lean type with minimal rolls (sob)at 30 3/4 inches and 22 lbs at 9 months. However, they both have beautiful blue eyes and long eyelashes so the comments are evenly split between size and eyes. Eh, whatever. Most times it’s people just trying to make conversation. Try not to let it get to you and get some you time to help you work out your own body issues. Good luck!

  34. Wallydraigle Jul 01 at 2:28 pm Reply Reply

    In my experience, when people comment on the size of the baby, it’s a good thing. Chubbiness is CUTE on a baby.

    And I’m not saying this from the perspective of someone who has only had small babies. My first was over ten pounds at birth. My second was just under eight pounds at birth, but her weight and height rocketed up to the 99th percentile before she was two months old. Her head size it not too far behind. We’ve gotten all kinds of comments, and they’re all meant to be compliments.

    I think fat babies are adorable. Most everyone I know does, too. Unless you know for sure that it’s meant as a criticism, chances are pretty good that they aren’t meaning to insult her.

  35. Courtney Jul 01 at 2:30 pm Reply Reply

    @Sarah – the proper thing to say to a pregnant woman is “You look great!” Same with new moms. Believe me, we are dying for someone to say it, even if we look like bloated-beached-whale-pregnant/eye-bag-dirty-hair-exhausted-new-mom ass.

    As for babies, “What a cutie!” or “S/He looks so much like you!” or “What great dimples/big brown eyes/curly hair!” are all acceptable. Although honestly, I love the chubby baby comments. My son was tiny (5lb 10z) and while he’s 50th percentile for height now at 10 months, he’s only 20th for weight. I nurse, so I kind of take his weight personally (?). I don’t know. Regardless, he doesn’t *look* scrawny – he has chubby chub thighs and elbow dimples and big round cheeks and I welcome all comments regarding same.

  36. Christine Jul 01 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    Both my kids were bang on average – and still got “What a big baby!” comments. Basically, people have no idea how big babies are (standardly, where there is no “perfect” standard anyway), and they’re mostly trying to say something nice.

  37. Sharon Jul 01 at 3:45 pm Reply Reply

    My son is almost 10 months old – he is now 23lbs and 30 inches tall (he thinned out when he started to crawl and even more so when he started to stand).

    He was an average size baby (8lbs, 4oz) at birth, and has grown completely proportionally his entire life.

    But, at one of his early pediatrician appointments (4 months I think) the nurse came out and called us back and immediately said “Oh WOW! He is getting FAT!” and I immediately got this horrible feeling in my stomach. I know it is my own body issues talking though. If anything, I feel like its a warning to get myself in check before I pass my anxieties on to him in some way when he is old enough to know.

  38. Karen Jul 01 at 4:22 pm Reply Reply

    My first two kids were 10 pounds even. 24 inches long. Even the hospital nurses gaped. Strangers came to the hospital nursery to gawk.

    Then we had our third boy and he was 12 pounds, 3 ounces. No lie. I had hospital employees who weren’t even from the MATERNITY ward come by to try to get a peek at him. So of course i got the “OMG he’s HUGE!” “DId you have gestational diabeties?” “Are you diabetic?” “This is your last one, right?” Turns out it’s genetic; my husband’s grandfather was 13 pounds at birth (and an only child). I got a lot of “what a big baby” and Amalah is right, just say, “Thanks, he’s very healthy!” or “Yep, can’t wait till he can walk on his own!”

  39. Liz Jul 01 at 6:46 pm Reply Reply

    I dunno, I’m proud of my big baby! He was 7lbs 14oz and 20 inches long when he was born, but he was 20lbs by 6 months. It’s amazing! All of that came from me, too, since he’s EBF. I feel proud when strangers say how big he is!

  40. Eris Jul 01 at 7:27 pm Reply Reply

    First, I am very genuinely deeply sorry if I have ever upset or offended a mom with a comment on her baby. I love the commentor who said we should also tell the mom she looks great, which I will do in the future, not to random strangers but to cousins/co-workers and the like because your’e right: we totally ignore the mom for the baby which is unintentionally totally rude.

    Like most posters said there is just a sorfof human need to comment on babies and instead of saying “cute!” we come up with other things. Very few people (crazy people! with major issues!) ever mean harm if them mention how big or small your baby is, it is just conversation. All babies are beautiful and wonderful and I think a simple smile and thank you when a random person comments on your wonderful child in the park is the best way to go.
    I have no children myself but my cousin made news in Phoenix Arizona TWICE for the babies she had naturally (no C section): something like 12.5 and then 14 pounds EACH. (she’s over 6′, hubby is 6’10). Meanwhile my other cousins have run the gamit from 4 pounds to 8. All babies are beautiful, you are beautiful, and please don’t believe the magazines when they insist that celebrities went back to a size 2 a mere three weeks after giving birth. Your body just performed a miracle, respect that and if you need find someone to help you if you are struggling with body issues.

  41. betsy Jul 02 at 6:54 am Reply Reply

    Who wants a skinny baby anyway. They look so fragile. Chubby babies are the best. You can’t break them. They grow up a bit and start walking and running, they get taller and grow into their bodies. I had a 9 lb 10 oz baby boy who was 21 pounds at 4 months and nearly 30 pounds by the time he turned one. But within a couple years he evened out. Now he is 11 and on the thinnner side of thin. But a solid kid. No one believes me that as a baby he was full of elastic band fat rolls and chubbiness. When I would take him out all the little hispanic grandmas at the store would call him gordito and everyone had a comment. But you know what? He was cute and fat on a baby is the best kind. So just smile and say thanks for the comments.

  42. Amanda Jul 02 at 12:24 pm Reply Reply

    I agree, I’ve had two chubby babies and one tiny one. People are commenting on size no matter what their size. And you know something? They commented on how my second child, who has been in the 10-20%, almost her whole life (recently moved up to 40% for height!) and how chubby she was! LOL I do take the chubby comments as nothing offensive, because people do find chunky babies adorable and I’ve heard from friends who have thin babies and the ‘tell you mommy to feed you!’ comments they get, which would irritate me much more than the chubby ones.

  43. Kathleen Jul 02 at 1:35 pm Reply Reply

    @ Sarah – If you have to say something about appearance, yes, Courtney is right, “you look  great”. But note: a pregnant woman hears about her appearance about 50 times a day – “God you’re big, are you sure you due date is right?” “You’re barely showing, are you eating enough?” are likely ON THE SAME DAY. Yeah, you get touchy – how would you feel if your appearance was the only thing anyone talked to you about? 

    Try “How are you doing/What did you do this weekend?” or something you would ask any normal human instead…

  44. Jenn Jul 02 at 4:26 pm Reply Reply

    @ Sarah – What others have said – “You look great!” to any pregnant woman or new mom is the perfect thing to say. Always. :)

    As for babies, I always try to comment on eyes, hair (or lack of) resemblance, or just their general gorgeousness.

    As the mother of a 16 month old, who check in last month at a hair over 23 lbs (32 percentile) and the 34 percentile for height – his doctor said he’s perfectly healthy and proportionate. And still – people are AMAZED that he’s only 16 months. I get “That’s a BIG KID!” – a lot. I don’t think he’s particularly big for his age – and it irks me for reasons I can’t put a finger on. But whatever. People just feel like they have to say something – so they’ll say anything. So I try not to let it get to me….It’s been fun reading a lot of these comments, and reassuring to know I’m not alone in getting irked (even knowing it’s for no good reason), and to know that it irks the moms of petite babies, too!

  45. Jennifer Jul 02 at 5:16 pm Reply Reply

    It’s purely cultural – here in America we still praise babies for being chubby and rolly (see the several comments here for proof!), it’s still considered the measure of cuteness sadly whereas in Europe a lean baby is considered to be cuter. 

    I get it all the time with my little boy who is well into the 97th percentile for both height and weight, having been 9lbs 15.5oz at birth and coming in at 15lbs at 8 weeks. Frankly it annoys me that people tell me he looks so healthy being so big, because he isn’t. He has had a lot of problems from needing to eat more than his digestive system is mature enough to handle and will continue to do so for a while. He might look solid on the outside but it’s made him more fragile on the inside, which is where it counts. 

  46. crabbyappleseed Jul 02 at 9:25 pm Reply Reply

    Wow.

    I had absolutely no idea that “look at her, she’s so big!” was an insult. I have a great big 18 month old who has been over the 90th percentile for weight and height practically since birth. I *love* when people tell me how big she is, and it never occurred to me to be upset. And anytime I’ve commented on a +9 lb newborn, it has always meant to be a sign of respect- it really takes a lot to carry and birth that baby.

    Obviously we should all think before we talk and try to avoid saying things that could hurt people, but to be honest, I think we also need to stop and ask ourselves, did they really mean that in a rude way, or am I maybe being too sensitive here? “Your baby is fat and he’s going to get cardiac disease”=obviously unacceptable, but “wow, what a big baby you have!” is probably meant as a nice comment.

  47. Angela Jul 04 at 4:28 pm Reply Reply

    Interesting comments. I just wanted to point out one more possibility. I just had twins in May who spent two weeks in the NICU. Now that they’re home I’ve been going to some postpartum luncheons where I get to see other women and their babies. And some of them look huge to me. I wanted to compliment one mom there on how big her daughter was, and to me it would have been a compliment as she was so big, cute and healthy looking. But I didn’t because I was afraid it might be taken wrong. I’m also operating on like 2 hours of sleep and I think sleep deprivation has taken all my social skills hostage.

    But to me, after seeing so many tiny babies struggling for life in the NICU I love seeing big healthy babies. Heck, my first words when they brought Lily around the curtain during my c/s was “She’s so big!” I was so afraid they’d be smaller than the ultrasound showed as they were 36 weeks. But they were over 6lbs each and I loved every comment on how big they were. It felt like such an accomplishment to have grown them in my tummy to that size! We were actually kind of infamous for a while at the hospital as the couple with the BIG twins. lol!

  48. Ss Lovey Jul 04 at 11:57 pm Reply Reply

    “Who wants a skinny baby anyway. They look so fragile.”

    Wow, betsy. I have an EBF baby who is perfectly healthy, but a ‘hypermetabolizer.’ That means at 6 months old he still produces many wet and several poopy diapers a day. Although he is within the normal range for weight gain for an EBF baby, he is by no means a plump or chunky baby– on track to be 80+ percentile for height but only 10th percentile for weight. He nurses on demand (that’s whenever he wants), but will never be a fat baby.

    You have no idea how much it hurts me to hear, “He’s so skinny!” It’s like an indictment of me as a breastfeeding mom, a judgment that I must be inferior somehow–if he were getting what he needed he would be fatter, right?. Wrong. His body is going to metabolize the way his body his body is going to metabolize. Trust me, my baby is every bit as sturdy and hardy as the ones with more insulation. AND he has slept through the night since he was 10 weeks old,–how many babies stay asleep even when they’re hungry?

    You really have no idea what an insensitive comment that was. Thanks for perpetuating misinformation and stereotypes!

  49. Torinz Jul 05 at 12:20 am Reply Reply

    I’m with Liz – I love it when people comment on how big my boy is! He was born at a healthy weight of 7lbs10z and was 23lbs at 5 months, all from being EBF. My oldest son was exactly the same. They both continue to track well into the 97th percentile for weight and height and are just big bruisers. And also because I have had such big bubbas, I love little wee ones as they are so gorgeous and baby-like, so I comment on both sizes and only ever have good intentions behind them.

  50. Michele Jul 05 at 11:12 am Reply Reply

    Oh my, what to do… I’m with Amalah on the NOM-NOMing of chubby baby legs and arms, and necks and… NOM!
    But yeah, being on the receiving end isn’t always fun. Believe it or not, I get both sides of the coin with my little guy. Some people think he’s BIG and others think he’s oh-so-skinny and his momma doesn’t feed him right. Some people just don’t know how big kids are supposed to be at all their different stages and there are varying definitions of “big”. So I’d reccommend taking these comments with a grain of salt, smiling and walking away. You know your baby is perfect and the rest of the world can go “bleep” themselves.

  51. Kirsty Jul 05 at 4:19 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Ss Lovey on this one – Betsy’s (probably, I hope, unintentionally hurtful) comment was unnecessary. None of us ask to have skinny, premature babies, or babies that hypermetabolise or whatever… That said, my (skinny, short) daughters were also complimented on how beautiful they were… Now, they’re both above average height (the younger one way above), both slim (the younger one in particular – 4′ tall, 37 lbs, age 6 yrs 2 months) and both gorgeous.
    I don’t, personally, find “fat” babies with chubby thighs adorable, but would never, never say anything as I know my perspective is coloured by my own experience. But to say that no one wants a skinny baby is hurtful and untrue.

  52. BZ Jul 06 at 10:40 am Reply Reply

    Well, about all those comments from other people…I have a special needs boy. He is 11 years old, and he looks decidedly beautiful. To me. And to anyone that knows him. But, to others, his head is very large, misshapen from sleeping on one side for years, since he didn’t have the strength to turn it, and he has cleft lip and palate. He gets many looks, and questions and comments. Mostly comments from children, but we hear the odd remark under someone’s breath, Never thought to be offended by it. never. I love it when people notice this boy. He IS amazing. he is also very very skinny, and very long. So? Why is anyone offended that someone makes a comment about something so obvious about thier child? Is it true?
    The way I see it, No one’s comment can change my child. It means nothing. People like to look, and they like to talk. If everyone in the community suddenly ignored you and your chubby/skinny/.tall/short/cute/ baby, your feelings would be hurt! Why waste time being bothered with other strangers comments?
    And are you sure that YOU have never made any comment that could be taken “wrong” by another parent?LOL people, .lol!

  53. kim Jul 06 at 12:33 pm Reply Reply

    Ehhh. I think everyone should chill out. Babies come in the sizes they’re supposed to be, barring unfortunate circumstances. Only sociopaths attack mothers through their babies. My friend always talks about how hard she works to keep from dumping her “stuff” onto her kid. Maybe some of these moms should do the same? People are going to comment on babies. Better to control your reaction to it than scare well-meaning people into not complimenting your adorable child at all. At least that’s what this fat mom who desperatley hopes her girls stay skinny thinks.

  54. Darcy Jul 06 at 11:23 pm Reply Reply

    I’m the mother of a 21-month-old (90th percentile for height) and I think there is a one-size-fits-all adjective for both babies and pregnant ladies that makes everyone happy: “beautiful.” Babies are beautiful, pregnant ladies are beautiful. :)

  55. Trista Jul 08 at 9:56 am Reply Reply

    My second child, girl, was born at a teeny 6 lbs 14 oz…which seemed small compared to her 9 lb big brother. It didn’t last long as she soon took on a similar growth pattern as her brother…which was BIG!. By thier first birthday…both my kids weighed in at 30 ilbs and were over the 100th percentile for height. For my son and first born? the big comments didn’t really bother me…I mean I personally am not big. I am an average weight, size 8-10, 5 ft 5in woman. But my husband is 6’2″ so it was natural for my son to be on the big side. With my daghter? WHOLE other story. I think its because we naturally assume our daughters will take after their mothers…and little girls are supposed to be petite and little and cute….SO I totally feel ya with the comments. It feels personal and plus I didn’t want my daughter in therapy later in life because people kept telling her how big she was…and I certainly didn’t want her to have body image issues or slouch in school since she is on track to be close to 6 ft tall. The “thanks, she’s a healthy baby” is a great one that I also used…and it did work…the only time I ever got really snarky was when a friend of mine contantly commented on how fat my daughter was and how big she was compared to her daughter that was 6 months older. Its like she was proud that her baby was smaller….after many months of saying that I guess my daughter was just going to be an over achiever….I finally snapped and said…MAYBE SHE IS JUST GOING TO BE A GIANT FAT ASS WHEN SHE GROWS UP, OK. I GET IT. SHE’S A BIG BABY. That shut her up.

    Now? THe girls are both 7 exactly the same size except that my daughter is about 10 lbs lighter. She’s weighing in at a very tall 50 lb first grader!

  56. Rikki Jul 09 at 10:03 pm Reply Reply

    Funny… I’ve sort of got a backwards thing going on. My daughter was an average 7lbs 4oz at birth, but has weighed and measured in the 95th percentile ever since! I love her chubby cheeks, and fat roll arms, and thunder thighs, and buddha belly! I’m actually a little sad that she seems to be slimming up now at 17 months.

    Anyway, I’ve always endearingly called her my “fat baby,” as in, “fat baby comin’ through” or “look out! fat baby attack!”… I’m always getting “Oh, don’t worry, she’s not fat!” from friends. Ha!

  57. KarinNH Jul 11 at 2:47 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Sarah on this one!

    Sometimes seemingly innocuous things like “cute” get you into trouble too…I had a neighbor whose hot-button issue was gender stereotyping, and she used to get incensed when people called her daughter cute, because she felt that it was passing on a message that looks were all that mattered for girls.

    So, it’s a minefield, and I wonder about the larger social cost in that.

  58. Colleen Jul 12 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

    In general, if you intend to make someone feel good, say something anyone would want to hear (like, you have a beautiful child or you look amazing to a pregnant mom). And, pregnant women are not overly touchy when you remember or realize that they get touched and rubbed by strangers who ask about things that strangers have no reason to inquire about–like whether you plan to breastfeed or have a natural birth. (Leaving out from this discussion the horror stories about births-gone-awry or sick babies). Every particle of food you eat or buy in public or otherwise is scrutinized and every activity you engage in is evaluated (I had neighbors who I swear were going to call the police because I was mowing the lawn while very pregnant). When you actually have the baby, the focus is on the child (for the most part) and the questions and advice continue–it is an odd thing that people feel free to comment and boss parents around.

    My son is large for his age and we get comments all the time–it also makes people more judgmental when you consider that our societal expectations for children are based on age estimates–so people are disapproving when they see him do normal things for his real age (like having a meltdown in a store) because they think he is at least a year older, if not more.

    And in terms of “safe things to say” I usually (accurately) comment that a baby’s smile seems to come from his/her toes…

  59. Marlena Jul 13 at 1:32 pm Reply Reply

    I am the parent of 2 little girls, one is 3 and has totally outgrown her initial chubbiness and I really really miss it. My 11 mo. old is covered in rolls and I just love to admire her adorableness. Chubby babies fly against convention. The rest of their lives they will be expected to look fit and thin, but babies get to be chubby and rolly, and we all love it. I think we all respond to the utter unselfconsciousness of babies, and how happy they are to be alive no matter if they are chubby or not. 

  60. tasterspoon Jul 14 at 10:37 pm Reply Reply

    Minefield is right. I had to come back when I saw there were 57 comments! To answer someone’s earlier question about what you can safely say to moms and pregnant women: Nothing. There is nothing you can say.

    Five months into pregnancy I’ve had half a dozen men (always men) tell me how particularly beautiful I look pregnant. In the most strenuous terms. I should be flattered, right? Wrong. It gives me the CREEPS. I’m assuming it has to do with the extra-opaque foundation I’m wearing to cover up the ACNE that makes me look more put together but seriously. What, are they saying I was a dog before? Do they have some kind of pregnancy fetish? Is it because I finally have boobs? Is BOOBS ALL YOU CAN THINK ABOUT?? No, there is nothing you can say. (Actually, I like to be asked how I am feeling, because then I can bitch about heartburn.)

  61. maria Mar 17 at 6:39 am Reply Reply

    Thank you for the advice. I get the opposite comment. I have a relative that is always saying that my baby is so skinny. He’s not skinny he’s perfect for he’s age and he’s very active. I just don’t understand why people focus on the weight, which the development is more important.

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