Babies on Diets and Training for Sports -- New, Dangerous Trends?

Most parents would probably say that they would do anything they could to give their child every possible advantage in today’s uber-competitive world. And certainly, the idea of “starting them early” is nothing new. (I can’t be the only mom who feels a tinge of lingering guilt because I never wrapped headphones around my pregnant belly to introduce my fetus to Mozart, am I?) But sadly, the best of intentions often spur the worst of behaviors, and the consequences can be tragic.

I’m talking about two acutely disturbing parenting practices recently highlighted in the media. GMA just did a terrifying report about parents who put their infants on diets. The reporters suggested that perhaps a 2009 study linking rapid early weight gain with medical problems later in life was the reason some parents admitted to intentionally underfeeding, bragging about bony, underweight newborns, watering down baby’s formula and in one case even adding laxatives to it -- all terrifyingly unsafe practices, no matter how much your baby weighs.

The other trend -- slightly less troubling but still not without issues -- involves sports training for newborns. The New York Times reports that record numbers of parents are grooming their babes to be future athletic superstars before they can even walk, citing an exponential spike in enrollment among the under-one crowd in tumbling-for-tots classes around the country. (One mom, a fitness coach of course, boasted about “working out [her newborns]” in the hospital.) The story quoted an orthopedic surgeon and founder of the first pediatric sports medicine clinic in the U.S., who expressed his concern about the potential for ever-earlier risk of "overuse injury."

Granted, we are experiencing an extreme obesity epidemic in this country (according to, one in three adolescents is now considered overweight or obese), and the remedy is education, simple good nutrition and the pursuit of an active lifestyle. But in my opinion, we as parents should be modeling these behaviors, not manipulating or forcing them on our kids.

What do you think of baby dieting and athletic training? Chime in below!

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