Jan 31, 2011  •  In Beauty, Claire, Korean, Parenting, Personal

I’m Not Fat; I Just Have a Big Head

Last week we took Claire in for her 4-month checkup. Our pediatrician declared the baby perfectly normal and healthy for her age…but voiced her concern at Claire’s weight gain.

When Claire was born, she weighed 6.7 lbs (23rd percentile) and was 19 inches long (33rd percentile).

Currently, Claire weighs 14.6 lbs and is 22.75 inches long. While her height remains at about the same percentile range, her weight is now over the 90th percentile!

Our doc asked us how much the baby was eating and how often, and told us not to worry about it too much. However, if Claire cries to be fed again within 2 hours of finishing a 6 oz bottle, we were to try giving her 3 oz of water instead.

I know that Claire is just a baby and that she will probably grow into her weight when she becomes more mobile. But as someone who has struggled with weight almost her entire life (I have more curves than the average Asian and am actually considered overweight in Asia), I couldn’t help but be a bit worried, especially since they say that formula-fed babies are more likely to become overweight as they get older.

J and I puzzled over Claire’s weight the entire way home from the doctor’s office. “How could she be over the 90th percentile?” we asked ourselves. “Look at her — she has some baby fat rolls but no more so than the average baby!”

Then we figured it out. It’s because of her giant noggin!


What’s that you say? You think I have a big head?


Why don’t I distract you by taking off my diaper instead…


No? That’s okay — I’m a shy little girl!

(And before you start judging me for what I’m about to write below, remember that I am Korean. We have a tendency to obsess over head sizes.)

I have always been self-conscious of my giant head. If you think that I’m exaggerating, I can tell you with confidence that my head is larger than anyone else I know…and I only stand at 5’1″. If you’re curious, my head circumference is 60cm. That’s almost 24 inches!

As such, ever since I got pregnant I had been hoping for a baby with a small, or even an average-sized head. Not only because it will be easier to give birth, but so that my children will not have to grow up with the teasing that I had endured.

I breathed a sigh of relief when the nurse first informed us of Claire’s stats right after giving birth, because her head circumference was 34 cm, or the 31st percentile.

But as she grew, so did her head. Today, while Claire’s height remains below 2/3 of babies her age, her weight and head circumference are both above the 90th percentile.

And as you can see in the pictures above, Claire is not a fat baby. She has a slight tummy, but that’s most likely due to the fact that she had finished a 6 oz bottle mere minutes before these photos were taken. So the only likely culprit for her above-average weight is her above-average head size.

And before the “How can you criticize your daughter? She’s just a baby!” comments start pouring in, let me say that I am NOT criticizing her. I am making an observation, or at least trying to think of a reason why her weight seems to be so high for her height when she does not look fat.

J and I actually think her big head is adorable. We are also well-aware that babies’ body parts grow at different rates, so her head may very well be average-sized, or even below the average size a year from now.

And if she grows up to have a big head just like her mommy? Eh, I don’t like that I have a big head but the teasing eventually stopped and I’ve learned to live with it. Besides, my mother tells me that I had a bigger head when I was Claire’s age.

23 Responses to “I’m Not Fat; I Just Have a Big Head”

  1. my friend had this issue also–the baby’s head quickly reached over the 90th percentile. she called him a bobble-head.

  2. Kristin:

    Aww, Claire is adorable! Isn’t it normal for babies’ heads to be proportionately larger than the rest of the body? Don’t have kids but seems all my friends’ babies have huge heads compared to their bodies. It’s hilariously adorable.

    • Yep I think compared to adults, most kids’ heads are larger in proportion to their bodies. I have a theory that this is one of the reasons I’m often mistaken for being a lot younger — in addition to my short stature, my big head also makes me look more child-like!

  3. Ha, Mavi is big all over. 95 in height, 95 head and 80 weight. Gotta love those big heads ;)
    I wouldn’t worry about it. She will grow into her head. lol

  4. Teresa:

    She’s adorable and you’re gorgeous!!!

  5. Courtney:

    I hear on the big-headed-baby front. At my daughter’s 4 month appointment she was 40-50th percentile for height and weight, but 70th percentile for head circumference! My husband/her dad also has an enormous head (it runs in his family) and I’m pretty sure that’s why I needed a C-section and my husband and his mom were both born by forceps.

    She’s a year now, and her head circumference has dropped to a more average percentile, her height is still around 40th percentile, but her weight has dropped to the 5-10th percentile. I was a little worried about the drop her her weight percentile, but I think it was a combo of her increased mobility and her having been sick with a stomach bug (which killed her appetite) for the week before the appointment. The doc wasn’t worried.

    So generally, I do think it’s possible for kids to change their growth patterns pretty dramatically. Plus, I don’t think the measurements at the doc’s offices are that precise to begin with!

  6. I was born with a big head. I still have a big head.
    Got a bigger brain. :D

  7. I constantly got made fun of when I was a kid b/c of my big head!
    Now I’ve grown to accept it the way it is, but sometimes I can’t help but feel envious of finding it a challenge to wear fabulous hats!

  8. But her head doesn’t LOOK bigger than average! How could the doctor think she’s overweight?! Man, you always have to be your own (and your child’s advocate) with doctors….

    I always say that Baby S has a big head. We went for his 2 month today and his head is at the 75th (as is everything else). So I guess his big head matches the rest of him.

  9. Annie:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the pics.

    Wilbs and I are just smiling so much over the pics :)

  10. T:

    Claire has nothing on me, I was a fat baby…I was 10.5 pounds when born and was super chubby for another couple years…and a big head :)

  11. I once went to a hat shop at an outlet mall. After trying about 10 hats (none that fit), I gave up and left. Next thing you know, I am beeping at every friggin store I step foot in! I was stopped by patrol and searched. They looked through my bags, had a lady security pat me down. Nothing… I just beeped. Came home and took a shower and felt a sticky tag stuck on my hair. It was pulled off when a hat got stuck on my head and my sis had to pull the hat off…. I’m at 59.5″ … not even beanies fit my head!! :( .. wish I can be as adorable as Claire with my big head!!!!

  12. lani:

    She is a doll! Do not worry about the weight. My daughter was born 6lbs 7 oz like claire (we were ALMOST going to name her claire too :D) and she was formula fed too. From the time she was about 2 months until 1 yr she was ALWAYS in the 90th percentile. Then after her first birthday when she slowly lost her baby weight. She’s now 6 yrs old and she’s skinny as a stick. Trust me, she is NOT anywhere near fat. My nephew was a little sumo sized baby (rolls all over with some areas getting rashes because of his rolls) and now at 4 years old he has thinned out so much.

    I have seen overweight kids and it really is because the parent are just feeding them anything and everything without stopping them. I always tell my little munchkin to eat until she’s full and she doesnt have to force herself to finish it all.. i think it’s a mistake a lot of parents make to force their kids to “clean the plate”..

    also at her age i don’t know why the doc would suggest to give her so much water. babies need the milk to keep them full and energized! please don’t give her so much water even if she is hungry just feed her again. has she started solids yet? if and when she is ready, i would suggest adding just a LITTLE bit of the rice cereal to her formula to keep her full longer. i did that with A and it held her over very well until the next scheduled feeding.

    My munchkin’s head used to be so big and heavy that she couldn’t hold it up for long. she would sit and eventually her head would cause her to tilt to one side. She has now grown into her head and it looks so tiny now!

    Don’t worry too much. Claire is a total doll! :)

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  14. MrsW:

    You wanna trade baby-size “problems”? Baby T is in the 2nd percentile height and weight, but has an average head. :) I was actually very surprised, because I come from a big headed family, hat issues and all. But I think (like others said above) most babies have ridiculous head-body ratios that go down significantly as they age.

  15. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. My nephews were chubby babies and as soon as they started crawling and walking, they lost a lot of weight. And I wouldn’t worry about her head. My friend’s son’s head is in the 99th percentile and his head doesn’t look big at all until you think about big heads when you stare at him.

  16. I just heard a story on NPR the other day about formula-fed babies being more likely to be overweight. I found it interesting that there was a difference in the type of formula used though- they said that cow-based formula was more likely to result in overweight children, but protein-based formula has less of a risk. It might be worth checking in to!

    Here’s the link for the story:
    http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/133110606/some-baby-formulas-may-cause-faster-weight-gain

    • Thanks for the link. I actually read about this study last week and was tempted to change Claire to a protein-based formula. However, we’ve tried various types of formulas before and she’s happiest with what she’s on right now. You also have to take this study with a grain of salt because protein-based formula is more expensive, so lower-income families (who statistically have poorer eating habits) are more likely to give their kids cow milk-based formula. So although I do get concerned that she may become overweight in the future, I’m pretty sure that if it happens it’s more likely because of her eating habits and not because I fed her cow milk-based formula when she was an infant.

  17. Babies just get cuter as they get older, until the age of 3, then it’s over. :P :P

    I’m now touching my head and wondering it is considered big too, because it doesn’t look any different from Claire’s ratio… at least not from my old baby pics.

    Your head looks normal to me as well. :\

  18. Otaqueen:

    My Japanese husband had an ENORMOUS head as a baby. Sure enough, our half-Japanese baby had a ” pumpkin head,” too. I’ve always found it endearing.

  19. What Up:

    Nice post. Your baby looks normal. Even if her head is slightly bigger, it looks even and well porportioned. I have the same problem as you. But I’m 5’6 160lbs. and have a 26in. head. Maybe yours looks noticeable since your 5’1. But yeah the teasing is horrible! Everybody will laugh at your problem since they don’t know what its like. Also it’s a birthdefect so there is NOTHING to do about it.(Why I hate ppl who complain about their weight, because they can control it!!) Anyway atleast she’s a girl and hide it w/ long hair. I was in the military and the first thing they do is shave your head. Long story short: I woke up everyday wanting to kill people for 4 years. Then they sent me to a shrink. Ppl ended up leaving me alone because they thought I was crazy. I did drugs inschool, too. Anyway she’s lucky to have well-adjusted parents who are smart. My dad is an abusive, brain-washed institutionalized militant. My mother is a naive, sensitive idiot w/ a low IQ(She admits this). Now I’m a college grad w/ a happy life. My head looks smaller because I lift weights now. I don’t speak to my dad, but help my mother, and I do volunteer work. I got rid of all the bull in my life!

  20. F:

    have you measured your head circumference accurately? Holding the measuring tape tightly? You might find out that you are 59 cm and not 60 cm if you hold the measuring tape firmly. Also, have you included the occipital bone?

    Did you place your measuring tape horizontally (as in here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGOuZani2WI&feature=related)

    or diagonally (as in here? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orr5oyeXkDE)

    Something else to consider is the height of your face, from your hairline to your chin.

    Also, I am looking for charts that give average head measures in adults, but I have found very conflicting opinions.

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