My Son Is Tiny! I'm Feeling Worried About It...

Updated on August 10, 2012
P.M. asks from Arvada, CO
26 answers

My son is 20 months old and only 21 lbs. He's been in the "under third percentile" for weight since he was about 6 months. He's been about 30-50 percentile for height and his head is always on the larger side. The pediatrician has never been concerned. He looks healthy, he eats (I mean, he's a toddler, so he eats what he will!) We just talked to our insurance agent because we wanted to open a life policy on him, and he called back saying his weight seemed "too low" for his age. He hasn't yet asked us for a note or fax from the doctor saying that he's healthy, he said he'd talk to someone and get back to us. He didn't seem too worried, it was the underwriter that found it concerning. So now I'm just feeling like he's SO tiny and that I should be worried. My husband is short, I'm tall but thin and my mom said all three of us kids were always the same way growing up (not even on the chart for weight). Any other moms in my shoes? Any advice? Should I be worried? TIA

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answers from Washington DC on

my dd was off the chart on the low end and she's perfectly healthy. She comes from a small and late blooming family. The charts are based on American kids who have a problem with obesity - take that into consideration

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My son has always been skinny for his height. The pediatrician was worried at first, but over time he noted that there was a consistent pattern of height vs weight. He said that means it's just my son's body type.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

If it runs in the family and the doc isn't worried, you shouldn't worry.

And, fwiw, I've read that life insurance for dependent kiddos is a waste of money. You might want to research the idea a bit more.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

The key for me is that he's been in the same percentile since he was six months old. That means his growth rate has been consistent AND he's on the charts. Both of those things are actually positives. As long as your son is healthy, his size is nothing to worry about. How is his appetite? Is he healthy or sick a lot? Is he active? Is he happy? Is he hitting his fine motor skill milestones? How are his receptive and expressive language skills? THOSE are the things that would be indicators of concern. Not his size.

Remember... the insurance agent is ONLY looking at a chart. He's not your son's father or doctor. He's just looking at a number on a chart.

My middle daughter has always been in the low percentiles unlike my other two daughters. Her appetite is usually very poor and she doesn't eat a wide variety of foods. She has a lot of concerns and delays and health issue related to Autism, plus genetics in the family (me, my mom, my grandmother) are small in stature to begin with. My other daughters are in the average ranges and will probably be taller because the genetics for that are also there on my husband's side and I have two uncles who tipped in at 6'2" with tall daughters of their own.

Anyway, my small daughter is growing at a rate that's normal for her. She's healthy for her. If we ever took out a policy for her, they'd probably give us trouble because of her Autism, seizure disorder, learning delays, and other issues on top of being smaller than the average but I would just direct them to her doctors.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I was NEVER on the chart as a kid... but I was always healthy. Since his size is comparable to your family history and he is steadily growing without worry from your pedi, than I wouldn't worry. If you still do, than get a second opinion from an endocrinologist.

*I gotta agree with Kristen. I've also been counseled that life insurance policies for small kiddos is a waste of money, better to put it in a 529, of course, I'm no expert :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Don't worry if the Doctor isn't worried :)

My 2 year old took forever to get past 20 lbs. She's practically 2.5 now and still about 23 lbs. Our doctor was only worried when she stagnated and stopped curving up for awhile. He ordered some tests and sent us to a nutritionist. Now she is "curving" again so all is well. Some kids are just small. Someone has to be down there in that 1,2, and 3 percent zone.

I asked the doctor, couldn't she just be having a"reverse growth spurt"? He admitted yes, but as a doctor he had to explore possibilities when he saw early signs of growth problems. So I think they know what to look for in growth issues. No worries.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

My daughter turned 2 last week and is not yet 21 lbs (20 lbs, 11 ounces at her 2 year check last week) and also average height. Some babies are just built smaller and it's no big deal. As long as he's active and meeting his milestones there's probably nothing to worry about. If he's been this way all along and his pediatrician isn't worried about it you shouldn't be either.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It seems as though you have a family history of this. I really think if it were something of concern, your pediatrician would seem more worried. He is growing and meeting milestones, and I think that reflects health.

I would listen to your doctors, and not take into large consideration an insurance agent. They have to ask these things about every kid. The doctor now knows YOUR son, and doesn't seem to be worried.

I was never on the charts, as an adult I'm still not!! It's just ME, and how I'm built!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

As long as he's gaining weight consistently - it's not like last year he was 25 lbs, and suddenly stopped gaining or lost weight - he's probably ok. If your ped isn't concerned, I wouldn't be either.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My son didn't reach 20 lbs until around his 2nd birthday. He was healthy and active, but very slight. I did not worry and still don't. He has regular growth spurts but is slender. The height/weight charts are averages of U.S. kids. If you looked at a wider world wide selection of kids, he would be closer to normal. U.S. kids tend toward bigger (and fatter IMO), don't worry about your kiddo unless you see other problems.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

My 2 year old (actually almost 28 months old) girl weighs between 21 and 22 pounds now. She still wears size 18 month clothes. I also was worried about her size (as my 4 year old was 22 pounds by 9 months of age). The pediatrician said to not worry as long as her growth curve was going up....which it has.

My little might is also healthy and full of it. She gets lots of attention when we go places because she IS a 2 year old who is the size of a 1 year old. They are amazed at how talkative and able she is. Well, she's 2. :)

My advice, put it on the back burner and discuss it at his 2 year check up. If anything, they will have you come in for another weight and height check in 3 more months (27 months), which we did, to confirm the growth curve. They also have well-child visits now for 2 1/2 years (they didn't when my first was that age).

Honestly, what else are you going to do about it? Keep feeding him healthy food? Of course. :)

As far as the ins. person, just ask if they need documents from the dr. to confirm he is healthy.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Those stupid charts! My daughter is very small, too. 23 mos old and 22.5 lbs. She's somewhere in the 5% for weight. She's meeting all her milestones, though, and is happy and very healthy. I always say that what she lacks in weight, she makes up for in attitude. lol
I am small framed, average height, and slim, and was always underweight as a child, also. So it has never crossed that there is a problem with her- she takes after me!
As long as he is meeting his growth curve over time, there is no reason to be worried at all.
Take care.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Talk to your ped.
My son was born a little early. It was a long fight for me to get him to eat
and grow.
He finally reached his milestones.
Since he was born early, it took him 2 years to catch up just like the doctors said it would.
My husband is tall & has a great metabolism so child took after him.
If your ped isn't concerned, you should be ok. Talk to him or her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Omg, I am dealing with this. I just took mine yesterday for his 18mo, and I just knew he would be 21 pounds, but he's just under 20! He's just about 19mo with long, long legs. I'm not worried, but it certainly is getting on my nerves to have it always be an issue. He was always little, a little over 6 pounds at birth. The doctors wanted me to gain more weight during pregnancy, but I maintained what is a healthy diet for me and ate round the clock. (Healthy diet is very little fast food, fruits and vegetables and meats, water, with lots of grazing. I have a gluten sensitivity, but I craved and ate Cheerios during pregnancy with seemingly no ill effects. They showed up after he was born.) His parents aren't big at all. He eats good stuff, but he sweats a lot and is very, very active, even well into the night. He won't sit still long enough for anything to stay with him.

The pedi wants him to see a pedi-GI. I'm cool with that, since I have GI issues. I would prefer to know now if he's inherited issues that we can and should address now. My baby's perfect, though. He talks and sings and laughs and eats and plays and mimicks anything that anybody puts in front of him.

My mother's brothers are over 50, and if you can pinch an inch, you're a lying dog. Even now, their metabolism is ridiculously high. All the women are jealous because they haven't "gone soft" anywhere. Both of my grandfathers were tall and very thin. My mother's people are small, and so are my husband's mother's people.

There are a number reasons that my baby could be lighter than some others. I'll help to rule out any illness so that the doctors can move on. They base their practices on what is "common". I see it as an opportunity to show them that they can't take that for granted and to always listen to the patients.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My 19 month old son is clocking it at 20 pounds. My older two kids were about the same weight (if not less) at this age too. If your doctor isn't worried, then I'm sure your son is fine.

I agree with Kristen though, about taking out a life insurance policy on your child. Financially speaking, it is not a good idea. If for some reason, they decline to insure your son, they might be doing you a favor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My son also is a little guy. He has finally hit 35lbs and turns 4 in October. Some kids are just small. My son's doc just told me that as long as he is growing along his own curve, and meeting all his developmental milestones not to worry about it.

Also, if you breastfed/feed it is not uncommon for the babies to drop lower on the doc's charts around 6-9 months. I don't remember all the reasons behind it, but because the growth charts are generally either using formula fed babies, or a mixture between FF and BF babies, they will drop to a lower tier.

Try checking where he is on the WHO's (world health orginazition) chart if he is breastfed because their chart is for BF'd babies only.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

My kids have alwasy been on the small side, like around 5th percentile for weight. it is really not a medical problem at all! Those charts have a limited usefullness, they do not tell you if your child is the "right" size. They just compare your child to the rest of the population, variation is normal. What doctors watch is the individual child's growth curve, if they are gaining wieght at a steady rate or not. If a child suddenly drops from the 50th to the 5th percentile it can be a sign of illness.



answers from Champaign on

I wouldn't worry about it as long as he's growing and hitting his milestones. Again, the doctor isn't worried about it - don't let an underwriter's questioning get you wondering if something is wrong. My son was always in the 10% for weight until he was about 3... he's now 5 1/2 and he's in the 50%.

As far as the life insurance, i'm not sure what your reasoning is - but our insurance agent told us that it wasn't really necessary to spend that money and our own life insurance policy has a dependent rider on it (at no cost) that covers $5,000 or $10,000 in case of death (which is just enough to cover any expenses that may be incurred). My husband and I also have policies through work for us and our dependants and I think our dependants are like $10,000 and it is about $1 a month to add our children to that policy. We probably have way more than we need - but we figured if something was to happen to any of our children - our chances of being able to pick up and return to work immediately probably wouldn't happen - so we would be able to take a leave of absence and not have added financial burdens from that.



answers from Charlotte on

If the height and weight both are in the same range, you should be okay. If he is eating and drinking, toileting normally, and has never had any health problems (hospitalizations, ER visits, etc), it should be okay.

If you really want to check this thoroughly, you could take him to a developmental pediatrician at a children's hospital. However, I would not start that process until you have already gotten the life insurance set up.

His doctor who has seen him for all his life should be the one you turn to for documentation that your son is normal.

Btw, I was a very tiny girl for a very long time. It took many years for me to catch up to other people, and I was perfectly healthy.




answers from Washington DC on

If your pediatrician was worried he/she would tell you. If you are worried, you can call the pediatrician to talk to him. My DD has always been on the small side (though in the 20 something percentiles) and her dr says as long as she is growing and it's consistent, we shouldn't worry. I don't know what she weighed at 20 months, but she wasn't 20 lbs til well after 1 yr old and is only 31 lbs at 4 yrs old.

I would look into if your work policies have one for dependents automatically (no physical). What is the reason you are looking into life insurance on a 2 yr old?



answers from Denver on

I wouldn't worry a bit. My son was in the zero percentile for the first 3 years of his life; when he finally hit the growth chart at a whopping 4th percentile, I celebrated with a little dance while our peditrician laughed and shouted, "Hooray!" You should only be concerned if he's not maintaining his own growth curve, and even then it's not concerning unless he's fallen way off that curve. Toddlers generally dip down a little bit b/c they are on the move more than when infants, but still adjusting to eating more food. I wouldn't worry. My son is 4 now, and only weighs about 30 lbs. As our ped put it: "S., you're scrawny, your daughter is scrawny, your husband is scrawny--your son is gonna be scrawny, too!" :) One caveat: our ped did one blood test when our son was about 2 just to be sure there were no matabolic issues. When that came back normally, she felt fine about his size and we didn't worry about it anymore. As long as he's worries.



answers from Muncie on

It could just be genetic, have you asked your in-laws about your husband and his siblings?

Both myself and my husband are on the shorter side of the scale so our daughter's always been on the short scale too and will likely always be.

Are either you or your husband of Asian lineage?

Insurance companies are over cautious. If they think your son isn't a sure bet insurance wise they will pick and pick until they find a reason not to insure. His low weight is a good enough excuse not to insure him. The whole reason behind most companies not covering preexisting conditions, they don't want to loose money on someone who may not live a very long life. All they see is data on a slip of paper. They don't know your son is healthy and thriving. I think it's just them that's being overly critical and cautious. Give it time, if nothing pans out, try another company.



answers from Kansas City on

Two of my three kids have never been on the growth chart. My youngest is in the 5%ile. My oldest son (just turned 7) is 38lbs. My middle son (almost 4.5) is 28lbs, and my youngest son (just turned 2) is probably 23lbs. They all follow their own growth curve, which is the important part.

I am 5'2" and 100lbs. Hubby is 6'1 and 190lbs. Clearly the boys take after me or will be late bloomers.

As long as he's eating a healthy diet, growing on his own growth curve, and meeting milestones, I would not be concerned.



answers from Washington DC on

My daughter was tiny also. Skinny and with tiny features. I remember when she was 18 months she was still wearing clothes for 9-12 months. Now though she is the tallest girl in her class. Funny because she always had long, skinny feet and her grandma used to say "she will grow into those feet one day" and she did!! :-)



answers from Chicago on

Please don't stress, I know that is easier said than done. My daughter's are both small. My oldest finally hit 45lbs and she is 9! Her weight bothered one of the former Dr.'s that we had. She labled her "failure to thrive" without every telling us that she labled her that or even telling us what that meant. She had me come in for weight checks every 6 weeks!! It was insane! She was [email protected] talked, I'm not kidding, in complete sentences at the age of 2. She ate and only ate healthy, for the most part. She only drank Whole Milk or Water. We do not eat fast food. We do not give our kids juice. An occasional juice box (never at 2) would be a treat. I was informed that I needed to make appointments with a gastroendronologist (Sp?) and an endrocronologist (Sp?) because she was concerned about her weight. Our poor baby had to undergo an upper GI at 2! It was crazy, and I was completely freaked out that she was sick. The endrocronologist would not even give me an appointment until I had a written script from the gastro dr. She told me that there were far too many peds that would just send kids to them, on a whim, just because they were small. Long story short, the gastro guy said she was very healthy. She was just small and probably wouldn't be taller than 5'2". No big surprise, I'm that tall, although dad is over 6'. Never had to see the other Dr. and I switched pediatricians after that. My daughter's are 6 and 9 now, and both are still only at the 25th percentile. We were just at the Dr. My 6 year old just hit 35lbs. Oh well. They eat and eat good. I'm not saying that they don't get kid food but for the most part they eat what I cook. My youngest will eat all day long, every hour, if I let her....of course then she wouldn't eat dinner. :( Take a deep breath. If your Dr. was worried she would have told you by now. I'm sure if there is a question, the Dr. will sign off on it. I often wonder....are these charts based on all of the kids that are obese? We do have the highest obesity rate in the world. Then our kids, that are just small, look like they are malnourished? I feel for you, good luck!



answers from Detroit on

no advice and you shouldnt worry.. my dr said.. "people come in differnt sized." if you and hubby were 6 footers. you might wonder why your child is small. but you and hubs are small and your child is small.

my daughter was 17 pounds at a year.. 21 pounds at 2 years.. now at 6 she is 38 pounds.. she is super skinny but healthy .. on a good note.. she doesnt grow too fast so her clothes fit for a long time.

I would not waste money on life insurance on a child. life insurance is to replace lost income if a working parent dies. If a child dies .. it is sad and tragic.. but you do not need to replace income because the child doesnt have income. you would be better off to take the $$ you would spend on life insurance and put it in a savings acoount for college.. in the very unlkely case the child dies.. use the money to pay for a funeral.

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