Parental Perceptions of Weight During the First Year of Life

Callie L. Brown, Asheley C. Skinner, H. Shonna Yin, Russell L. Rothman, Lee M. Sanders, Alan M. Delamater, Sophie N. Ravanbakht, Eliana M. Perrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background More than half of parents underestimate their overweight child's weight; however, previous research focuses on children older than 2 years of age. The objective of this study was to assess whether parents of 2- to 12-month-old infants are able to accurately perceive their children's weight status. Methods We performed a cross-sectional analysis of data collected from the Greenlight study, a cluster randomized obesity prevention trial, at 4 pediatric clinics serving diverse and low-income populations. Infants' length and weight were measured at well-child checks, and parents completed questionnaires including demographic characteristics and perception of their children's weight. Weight-for-length (WFL) percentile at the fifth to ≤95 was considered healthy weight and WFL percentile >95th was considered overweight. We used chi-squared tests to compare accuracy according to weight category and performed logistic regression analysis to assess accuracy at each time point. Results Approximately 85% to 90% of infants (n = 853 at 2 months, n = 563 at 12 months) were at a healthy WFL at all measurement times, and parents of these infants were more likely to have an accurate perception of their child's weight (accuracy 89%–95%) than overweight children (accuracy 7%–26%; P < .001 across time points). Approximately 10% of healthy weight infants were perceived as underweight by their parents at all time points. At 12 months, mothers who were overweight were significantly more likely to underestimate their child's weight status (P = .008). Conclusions In our diverse and low-income sample, parents of overweight infants infrequently know that their infants are overweight. Future studies should examine how perception is related to feeding habits and weight status over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-564
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • growth
  • infant
  • overweight
  • perception
  • weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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