They come in all shapes and sizes.

I had a conversation with a dear friend who is also breastfeeding. Like me, it’s a love hate relationship. Much like my breastfeeding relationship with Hooper, she expressed concern over how much milk she was giving her baby and if it was enough. I remember these concerns all too well and I probably sound like a broken record talking about it yet again.
I still have the same concerns that I did with Hooper, with Van. The only difference is that all I need for reassurance is to grab Van’s chunky leg. I encouraged my friend to feel good about her decision to breastfeed and reminded her that her baby looks perfectly happy and healthy.
Then the conversation turned to percentiles and I found myself reassuring her that the 50th percentile is a wonderful place to be and found myself diminishing her fears and justifying mine by reminding her that Hooper was, at one time, in the 10th percentile. As we talked, I got on the computer and began searching for a picture of what I remember to be a very scrawny Hooper. And the conclusion I came to was this: He wasn’t ever that scrawny. I think hearing “the 10th percentile” scarred me more than any image of him during that time.
So the take home message is this: They come in all shapes and sizes. Percentiles, smerpentiles. If I had to do it again- because living in hindsight is one of my requests for when that genie pops up- I’d ask our pediatrician not to even share the percentiles with me. In the end, the percentiles did nothing other than cause me unnecessary turmoil.
The first photo above is of Hooper when he was 36 weeks old and in the 10th percentile for weight. The one below that is of Van, in the same week of life, and I believe in the 60th percentile (though, to be honest, I’m not even sure what percentile he is anymore) for weight. I can’t even tell that much of a difference. I know, based on the clothes Van’s wearing, that Van is much larger than Hooper was at his age. But the picture of Hooper certainly doesn’t scream TENTH PERCENTILE out at me.
How do you feel about percentiles? Did hearing your child’s percentiles cause you any unnecessary worry?
Side note: Same house, different kitchen. A reminder that I still need to share our kitchen renovation…

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21 Responses

  • I breastfeed our little girl too. Our little girl is still in the 3rd percentile for weight. She has been 1st percentile at one time too. At the moment she is a little over 14lbs and 10 1/2 months old. To be honest I never felt that my baby was too small. She’s incredibly active and started crawling and pulling up at 6 months. One of my pediatricians did have a concern and we put our little girl on a multivitamin. We have moved and our new pediatrician thinks that she is just a petite little girl like her mama. I’m a strong believer babies come in all different sizes too. I think they just worry if they start to dip away from their norm in the weight curve.

    anyhow great post! 🙂

    • You bring up a good point. I think it’s so important to find the right pediatrician. Kudos to you for trusting your gut about things… I’ve learned through motherhood and through being a nurse that you should always trust your instinct. If your baby appears healthy to you and is meeting all the milestones then who cares about percentiles? If you’re petite, your baby will be petite… it goes without saying but it’s hard, especially for new moms, to use logic instead of emotion. Thanks for sharing and congrats on still breastfeeding!

  • First off, I love reading your breastfeeding posts so don’t even worry about sounding like a broken record lol!

    My daughter was formula fed because 17 years ago when she was born, there wasn’t much in the way of breastfeeding support where we lived and the internet was not as much of a resource as it is today. My son (he’s 5 months old) has been exclusively breastfed since birth and despite the difference in nourishment, both were in the 80-90 percentile range. My son if freaking 18.2lbs!!! I just make fast growing, extra-large, giant babies. People ask how old my son is and then stare in (completely rude) disbelief at the size of him when I tell them his age. Seriously, you should here some of the comments people make. My BFF’s son just turned 1 year and he’s the same size as my little guy. You put it perfectly…..they DO come in all shapes and sizes and get all hung up on percentiles is just silly.

    When it comes to the issue of milk supply, I think every breastfeeding mom gets concerned about whether or not they’re producing enough at some point or another. I hate pumping, but I usually have to do it at night before bed and then again every morning. Even with milk in the fridge, I still get concerned sometimes that there’s not enough milk. I think it’s a totally normal concern even when there’a absolutely no cause for it.

    <3 Alia

  • I had to supplement my first son due to low milk supply (which I now know was probably due to a tongue tie). All I wanted was to be able to breastfeed exclusively. He got 50% breastmilk and 50% formula and was always in the 90th percentile for both height and weight, but I was so frustrated with myself for not being able to EBF.

    My second boy is completely breastfed. He is in the 50% for weight, but he is in the 99% for height so I also worry that he is too skinny. My ped said he’s just long and lean and has no concerns. But us mommas are always too worried about these things. Now that I am EBF I too love/hate it. Part of me wouldn’t mind stopping now (6 months) and part of me is determined to go a year. The grass is always greener!

    • Cheers to you for doing BM and F… I think it’d be incredibly difficult to keep up the BF once you start with the F.

      You second is the same as Van… (60th for weight and 91 for height)… I don’t worry about him at all… I’ll bet you’re long and lean as well. If it’s in the genes, it’s in the genes.

      The grass is always greener, isn’t it. Keep going Mama, you’re doing great 🙂

  • The only difference I can see in those pictures is that Van is a little taller, which probably explains why he’s heavier. They both look super healthy (and always have). I’ve come to believe that numbers, in general, are not that helpful for the worry-prone patient. They may be helpful for the objective doctor, but they’re not that important for us, as patients, to know. I prefer NOT to know my weight, for example. I’d rather go by how I feel. And, at my next physical, I’m going to tell my doctor not to share my cholesterol or any of that unless there’s a big problem. Otherwise, it’s easy to get fixated. Your pediatrician was never worried about Hooper. So let him/her harbor the numbers/percentiles so you can relax 😉

    • I agree… leave it to the doc… It’s either he’s healthy or he’s not and leave it at that. Numbers are dumb and comparing one kid to another is even dumber. I mean I got so fixated on Hoop being so long and thin… but look at me… it’s obviously in his genes. There was no way he was ever going to stay in the 80th percentile he was born at…

  • This describes me to a T. “How much BM should my LO be getting?” is one of my weekly google inquiries and even though the answer never changes I always go back to check again… and again. Glad to hear from your other readers it’s normal to worry. and yes, you’re overdue for a kitchen tour.

  • I like that you’re talking about BF “yet again”. I think us breastfeeding mothers are constantly worrying about milk supply, and it’s nice to hear from others who are doing the same. When I pump, I get NOTHING, so of course I am concerned about what he’s getting at the breast (seems satisfied), and he’s slimming down (7 months old, and moving more), so I’m even more concerned. The doc says he’s fine! I need to stop worrying about the numbers! Your boys are adorable! (how many sentences can I end in ! Ha.)

    PS- love your sarcasm

    • What sarcasm?

      Ha! I don’t get nearly as much when I pump anymore either. Now that he’s so mobile and eating solids so well, my milk supply is dwindling. So long as I offer him the breast several times I day, I try not to get all crazy about it.

  • I have stopped listening to the percentiles talk. At first they tried to tell me Jarvis was under weight he was 10% for weight and 90% for height. I got so stressed over it. But now I just look at Jarvis. Does he look healthy? Yes. So stuff your percentiles.
    I had to look several times at the images, your boys look so similar I can barely tell the difference in their size. They both look healthy and happy. That is all that is needed.

    • I did the same thing… I’d look at Hooper and know, logically, that he was healthy. Like I said, it was only the percentile discussion that made me worry… I knew he was healthy. I agree, there isn’t a huge difference in their sizes… all the more reason percentiles are dumb. Jarvis looks quite healthy 🙂

  • I wish I had the mental strength to keep up with nursing — but it just wasn’t gonna cut it for us. We had to go to weight checks every week because Riley wasn’t gaining. In a 9-day stretch (what should’ve been her 3 week growth spurt) she gained HALF AN OUNCE. That was it for us — I couldn’t take it anymore. With that being said, I think she’s technically short and 50th percentile for weight … and 85th for her head. Insane.

    To me, she is a perfect gift from where ever babies come from and I wouldn’t trade her rolls and creases for anything..but back when we desperately tried breast feeding, you could see her skeleton. YUCK!

    • Ya, you gotta do what keeps you sane. Nursing, for me, has been under the best of circumstances and it’s still been incredibly difficult… so I never judge when someone chose to go another route… for whatever reason. Sanity is more important than anything else… especially for the new mama’s!

  • don’t be too concerned. just trust in your baby and trust in yourself. get the necessary help from a breast feeding support group if required. don’t give up. your milk is the best gift you can give your baby

  • I definitely think health care professionals play a role, a huge role, in all this too. I had my son in Scotland. He was hospitalized at 5 weeks because he literally hadn’t gained any weight. They hospitalized him because they were more concerned that there was an underlying condition keeping him from gaining weight. And we had weekly (yes, weekly) checkups until he was 9 months old to monitor his weight. It was that serious. Never in all of this did they ever suggest to me that I had a low supply or that I should add some formula to his diet. Because of this, I never questioned it either. I think so much of how we feel about breastfeeding (or even how much our kids are eating when they are older) comes from how healthcare professionals and those closest to us react to the situation as well.

    • I couldn’t agree more. All the more reason you should interview your pediatrician before you have your baby to be sure y’all are on the same page. Their advice, or even delivery of information, plays a huge role. Thanks for the comment.

  • The only percentile shared with us about our daughter that has bothered me (and still does) is the size of her head! She’s been in the high 90s percentile since birth and she’s now almost 15 months old! You can feed a kid more or less to adjust their weight, but what the heck am I supposed to do with my bobble-head-baby (which is what I call her from time to time)? I have to take the neck hole sizes into consideration when buying her tops/tees. She HATES changing shirts the most..and for good reason. Sometimes, it looks like she’s being born all over again….if you know what I mean 😉 More face to kiss, I guess.


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