39 answers

REALLY Low Percentiles, Should I Be Worried?

My son went in for a "well-baby" checkup the other day so that I could fill out the paperwork for daycare. My son is 2, and he's apparently in the 3rd percentile for weight, 5th percentile for height, and 6th percentile for head circumference. Should I be concerned? The ped recommended feeding him more often, but I can't force him to eat...?! If I give him snacks he won't eat his meals, though he generally eats pretty well whatever we put in front of him at mealtime (unless we give him a snack in which case he acts like he's not hungry).

He is a happy, seemingly healthy little boy, who is very active, so I'm not sure whether I should worry or not.

Several of you have asked--yes, I used to be petite (now I'm just short!), and his dad is thin as a stick. I'm only about 5'3, but in my family the women may be short, but the men are always really tall (generally well over 6 ft). My husband's family is of average height (hubs is the tallest of his immediate family at 5'11"). I suppose the one that was freaking me out the most was his weight--it seems like he should weigh more than 23 lbs.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the reassurance...it's one of those things--you might KNOW that there isn't a problem, but you still get nervous. (Or maybe that's just me.) He seems to eat just fine (he's hardly even picky!!) and he seems pretty happy, and is VERY active (sometimes too much for mom!) so until that changes I'll assume that he's where he's supposed to be. :-)

Thanks again!

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Sounds like that he is a very happy and healthy child, as long as he is hitting all of the important milestones like talking, fine and large motor skills, I say no worries. I have a soon to be 3 year old who has been in the lowest percentile for weight, height and head since he was 1 1/2. I don't worry though, I am only 5'2 so he may just be a shorty like his mom!!!

Good morning, B.! I have a 6 month old son and we have been battling the same "issues" since his birth. What I have been told is that as long as he is healthy otherwise and meeting development milestones, not to worry about what the percentiles are. Important thing is that he continues moving up the percintile chart. Like you say, offer him meals, snacks but you can't nor should you force him to eat!! It has been difficult for me because I feel like I should be doing something else, but I don't know what that could be. We have a 2 y/o daughter who has ALWAYS been in the 90-95 percentile and I haven't done a thing differently with the two of them?!?!

I'll be thinking about you!!

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I know a lot of parents keep up with the percentile ranges. I guess I am more old school, being an older Mom. I'm kind of like you, can't force them to eat, most eat when they are hungry. We had a party when my daughter finally hit 50 lbs when she was 7! She is very active and rarely sick. Figured something must be going right. Follow your heart and your Mommy instinct.

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Kudos to all your ladies who responded with the "he's just fine". I agree...if he's eating and thriving then don't worry about it. First of all, remember that you need to compare your child against ONLY your child! This isn't a race to see who's kid is the biggest...my daughter is off the charts and I'm not "slimming her down"...rediculous to start that pressure on a 3 yr old...she's a big girl...her bone structure is bigger than her brothers but she is not fat. My 3 yr old daughter wears size 8 dresses while my 5 yr old son is still in slim 5 pants.

You said, "He is a happy, seemingly healthy little boy, who is very active" what more would you want? Celebrate it!

Don't worry about where the other kids are or the "norm". Look only to what is normal in YOUR family. My mom was a slender framed woman (my son got that), I'm a bigger boned woman (unfortunately my daughter got that). Don't obsess over it, society throws too many pressures on us to fit into a certain mold. Love your child for who he is and move on from there. If you are worried about self esteem issues with him, put him in sports or play activities that will accentuate his talents or build (i.e. gymnastics, soccer, swimming, running, art, theater or even dance) Not everyone will be an NFL football player, nor would they want to be.

1 mom found this helpful


I wouldn't worry about it. My son just turned 2 also and is 100% for height and 75% for weight. I knew he was tall but the weight % shocked me cause he hardly ever eats. He mostly drinks milk and is just not interested in alot of food. Kids haven't developed the "I'm bored what can I eat" that adults have. They know when to stop. If you're really worried I would just make sure he gets plenty of whole milk. It seems to be working w/ our kid!! Good luck!

I agree whole heartedly with these ladies. Not only that, I believe that this bad advice from the doctors caused my life long battle with weight gain. I was premature at birth and had various health problems when I was young. The doctors told my parents to force feed me. Eventually, it caught up with me and at one point I gained 100 pounds in 2 years. I started my first aerobics training program when I was about 9 years old and I've fought the battle of the bulge all these years since.


You really should discuss this matter with the Pediatrician. This isn't exactly something that you should be trying to get opinions about. He could be a normal but small boy, especially if it runs in the family...or he could have a growth problem. There's no sense in coming here to ask a bunch of mothers who may not know all the details and family history. I know as parents we try to keep up with numbers, and I know as a nurse, that those growth percentile ranks are important, however, it's not something to get all worked up about. If your motherly instinct tells you something is wrong, then go with your gut and get answers from the doctor. Good luck!

My question to you is, is he growing? If he has always been very petiete, don't worry so much. The only reason for concern is if there is a drop in growth or no growth at all. The percentile is just where your child lies on a average of all childeren. He is on the smaller size. If he is active, eating well, you are doing great! Maybe at snacktime give him a smaller portion. He's a litte guy, so it's not going to take much to fill him up. You don't want to fill him up, you want to give him extra nutrition, and tie him over till next meal. Be sure to give the snack to him at least 2 hours before a meal. Hopefully then he will be hungry again and eat his meal. You're doing great mom!

I would not worry a bit. My daughter has been on the very low end almost since birth. As long as he is eating good and you feel that he is healthy, I don't think it matters if he is on the low end. My daughter is 15 months old and she eats like a horse...sometimes snacks, meals, and more. She has always been in about the 2nd or 3rd percentile as far as weight. Her Pediatrician told me to feed her cream and butter. I thought that was a little extreme, but sometimes I'll make her some oatmeal with whole milk and she eats mac and cheese which has both! I think she just got the metabolism that I wish I had and maybe that's the case for your son as well, especially if he is really active. Hope this helps...you sound like a great mom! :)

Are you and your husband tall or short? He is proportioned, which is a positive sign. If your ped was not worried, I would expect he is fine. He's a happy and healthy boy, I would not be concerned on size alone, as long as you and your husband are small as well. If you are both tall, I might worry.

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