“He’s A Healthy Boy!” – And Other Tales Of Parenting A Chubby Toddler

Genetically, my son is destined to be a wee one in the land of giants. He should be the short skinny kid in the group; the Tiny Tim, only with better teeth and minus the dark circles. At age three, he is in the 3rd percentile for height (with all the other Cratchit kids), but it’s the width where he has surprised us.

I’ve analyzed the Punnett squares at length to confirm that they didn’t accidentally switch babies in the hospital. I was a scrawny kid, and Rocco’s dad is a 125 lbs soaking wet, I-skipped-a-meal-and-accidentally-lost-7-pounds kind of guy. His sister is the smallest in her class both vertically and horizontally.

I always thought he was a little chubby as a baby, but looking back at photos I am genuinely surprised that I didn’t end up on the news as the mother of one of those Guiness-record-what-can-she-possibly-be-feeding-him-babies.

He's A Healthy Boy - And Other Tales Of PArenting A Chubby Toddler

At about 5 months, he started taking rolls to an entirely new level. I was a little concerned at first, but having seen plenty of chubby babies I didn’t lose any sleep over it.

Moms of roley kids know that to properly maintain your little one, you have to take cleaning to an entirely new level. You scrub in all the valleys at bath time, looking for crumbs. You often take a wash cloth to the neck folds to remove milk crusts that have collected. You may even consider adding a teeny tiny crevice tool to your vacuum cleaner attachment collection.

There’s an older neighbor gentleman who always stops me during stroller outings to say ‘He’s a Healthy boy!’ and then adds in his knowing laugh and side glance as if to say “It must be hard to keep Twinkies on the conveyor belt 24/7 mom”.

People want to “eat him up” and “squeeze those cheeks”. They announce to me (with the excitement of someone who has uncovered brand new information) “Look at those chubby cheeks!”.

When he was 13 months old, Rocco had a peanut reaction, and was covered in hives within minutes of eating his first peanut butter sandwich. I rushed him into the ER entrance, and a concerned nurse scooted over to analyze his facial swelling.

“How much would you say his face has swollen?”, she asked in a serious and urgent tone.

My response? “There isn’t any, that’s just the way his cheeks are.”.

It isn’t just his cheeks and waistline either. Bilbo Baggins has nothing on Rocco’s feet. His dad and I wear thimbles for shoes, but Rocco’s foot never fit into normal toddler sneakers. The expensive mall store brought out a wide shoe, followed by an extra wide shoe. Finally they brought out an extra, extra wide shoe. Angels sang, and I rejoiced that someone had thought to stitch together the quantity of velcro and pleather to cover my toddler’s meat hooves adequately (even if it did cost an arm and a roley poley leg).

As he got older, There was a physical delay with crawling that the therapist suggested may be due to his ‘build’.   There were the family members who suggested I cut out snacks. There was the pediatrician who instructed me to keep putting the same plate of meat and vegetables in front of him for every meal until he finally ate it. Everyone had an opinion on Rocco’s waistline.

Though I make a regular habit of second guessing my parenting, I knew I was right on this one and blocked out the noise, using the simple justification that I’m mom, and therefore, I know what’s right.

I wonder if he’ll struggle with weight as he gets older, but I’m not too worried. Anyway, with a name like Rocco, did we really think he’d be lanky and angular? I like that he adds some variety to our family gatherings of tiny men. He is one of the most pleasant and happy little guys you’ll meet, so I know the ladies will love him. Plus, by the time he gets married, his wife will be in luck, since they will probably have invented vacuum attachments to clean even adult-sized crevices by then.


  1. LOL! Cute! I’m sure he’s fine. It amazes me how the build of one child is so different from another. My oldest has always been what I call “solid.” She doesn’t eat much, but feels heavier when you lift her (and always have). I figure she must have more muscles there than show. Her younger sister eats everything in sight yet has a tall, slender build, even at 2. Keep following your instincts, mama, and listening to your doctor.

  2. Grammy

    There are plenty of cheeks on one side of his family, so I think he comes by them naturally. I remember taking your sister to have professional photos done when she was 6 months old and the photographer noting with some glee that she was “all cheeks and teeth.” There is a lot to be said for “short and sweet,” and Rocco is definitely all that!

  3. Jo

    You never know. Maybe he got he height gene and his rolls will magically turn into firm muscle – after puberty , of course. And I you find that vacuum attachment, let m know!! lol

  4. Holy cow, that ER story cracked me up! LOL! And yes, you’re absolutely right, Susan. ‘Rocco’ is a dude’s name! He can’t be lanky at all. But I have to apologize….I really do want to squeeze and bite him after seeing that pic! Soooooo cute!! 😀

  5. mamarabia

    I think you did it when you named him Rocco. There’s really no way for Rocco to be a bean pole. My kids are tiny. You can count their ribs. They accuse me of not feeding my middle son, but he’s a vacuum when it comes to food. He just burns it all off running, jumping and climbing everywhere he goes!

  6. “How much would you say his face has swollen?” Haha. And the vacuum cleaner attachment comment. Aw! Everyone loves a chubby baby. I remember an older Italian relative telling me Zoe wasn’t chubby enough!! Oh well. My husband is tall and thin so everyone says she gets it from him (um, thanks? My chub hasn’t blocked my hearing.) but he was actually a very fat baby and they used to called him Winston Churchill.

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