Can I tell you something? Having a super tiny child can be stressful AF sometimes.
My first two kids are what I’ve come to refer to as “regular” size. The oldest has always been a giant, towering over his peers, and outweighing them by several pounds. My middle child is pretty much 50th percentile. If you Google the average height and weight for a boy his age, the answer will almost always be within a pound and a fraction of an inch of his actual stats. I’ve never really had to worry about either of them. They’ve been on a steady growth curve for years.
Enter my third child.
She is so tiny, she is barely clinging to the bottom of the chart.
My daughter was just six pounds and eighteen inches at birth, and she’s never been a really big eater. She has always nursed well, and she’s grown steadily but slowly. She’s never had a big growth spurt.
She doesn’t get excited about food. Not any food at all. She will eat almost anything, but she only actually wants a couple bites. She will take a few more to humor me. It doesn’t matter if it’s avocado toast sprinkled with everything bagel seasoning, broccoli with pesto, Greek yogurt, chicken nuggets or an ice cream sundae. It’s all the same to her, and she could take it or leave it. Her only food true love is blueberries. Everything else is “meh.”
Contrary to what people assume when they see how little she is, she does eat an adequate amount.
It just takes a lot of planning on my part. She treats eating like one more inconvenient thing on her daily to do list. She squeezes it in between playing on the floor and chasing the dog, but honestly, she’s not a fan.
On the rare occasion that we take her out of the house for a shopping trip, at least one person always comments on how small she is. She acts like a one-year-old, but she’s exactly the same size as my older kids were when they were around seven months old. She can be a little confusing to look at. Is she an extra tiny toddler or a genius infant? Hard to tell. (Side note: This is incredibly annoying. Make a habit of not commenting on the size of anyone’s body, even if they’re a baby.)
She’s not so small that the doctor is concerned about her health yet.
She is a tiny bit bigger at every appointment than she was the time before. But she is little enough that it’s a topic of conversation at every visit. Our doctor would like us to make sure she stays on the chart somewhere, and I want that, too.
I do my best. I really do. My husband and I have spent hours online trying to find creative ways to bump up the nutritional and caloric value of foods I know she will eat. But it won’t help anyone if we turn her mealtimes into battles. We can only offer her plenty of food and follow her lead. That’s been the plan since she started eating solid foods.
I wasn’t really worried until her 12 month visit a couple weeks ago. We discovered that her iron is just slightly low. That’s normal for breastfed babies, but there was one little problem: The solution.
Her pediatrician prescribed an iron supplement that smells and tastes like a rusty steel wool pad. I tasted it and immediately gagged. As you can imagine, my baby was having no part of it.
The nurse suggested trying to hide it in orange juice or chocolate pudding.
We tried both. My tiny child is no fool.
She spit the pudding out, then went on a three-day hunger strike.
For three entire days, she would only breastfeed. I guess she figured I couldn’t hide the medicine in my boobs. Even her beloved blueberries ended up on the floor for the dog.
So, now I find myself with a little bitty kid with a tiny appetite who needs extra iron but won’t take the medicine or eat enough to bump up her intake. Super.
How, exactly, do I convince my one-year-old that she needs to eat larger portions of iron-rich foods or cooperate and take the drops? She doesn’t care. This baby has never given one single fuck in her whole year on earth. I’m quite sure she won’t be starting now.
This is a Whole. Entire. Thing.
As much as my anxiety tells me to worry about this and worry hard, I have to actively remind myself not to become obsessed with her size.
She is perfectly healthy, and it’s okay for her to be small. The growth charts can’t determine her health. They can only tell me how big other kids are in relation to her. We can work out the iron thing, too. There are other supplements she can take, and she can get a lot of it from food now that I know she needs extra.
If you have a tiny child and your doctor has pointed out a change in their growth curve, you might be feeling stressed out, too. I’m talking to both of us when I say that as long as your doctor isn’t concerned for your child’s immediate health, it’s okay to just keep an eye on their growth instead of wholly obsessing over it.
Ultimately, this will all work out.
Toddlers are a challenge, but they get bigger. I’ve talked to a lot of parents of older tiny kids and they assure me that even the smallest ones do grow up. Some of them get way bigger eventually, and some of them grow into the tiniest of adults, but they all get bigger.
Our kids might just be very tiny, and that’s okay. Someone has to be small for the growth charts to even exist. All bodies are good. As long as your kid is eating enough to sustain them and isn’t showing any signs of a deeper health issue, being tiny is just one more character trait to add to the list of things that make them THEM.
Personally, while I’m waiting for this baby to get bigger, I’ll just try to enjoy the fact that her clothes fit her for a long time and she’s easy to carry around. She’s not too small, she’s just adorably miniature. And for now, that’s exactly how she’s meant to be.