My daughter has a tummy that sticks out. She is taller than most kids in her class, even the boys. My Wife is 5'9 and I am 6'0. We have tall family members as well. However, she constantly seems to have what you may call a 'toddler belly'. She is in the upper percentiles in weight and height. We don't feed her junk. However, if she has a Sprite (soda), then her tummy does get bigger. We try to keep her active as much as possible and she is involved in minor athletics such as cheerleading.

Is it normal to have this belly sticking out? Will it ever go down?

  • How old is she?
    – Swati
    Jul 27, 2011 at 13:06
  • @Swati: 5 and half. Jul 27, 2011 at 13:07
  • 3
    Please don't fat-shame five-year-olds. Please don't fat-shame anyone.
    – TRiG
    Jan 28, 2012 at 17:07
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    You should not be giving a child soda! Water, milk, or diluted fruit juice (one part juice to ten parts water). Soda has high sugar content which is bad for teeth and increases risk of diabetes.
    – DanBeale
    May 16, 2014 at 17:56
  • 1
    @Dan: she is 8 and half now. Her dentist said only water and milk May 16, 2014 at 19:01

5 Answers 5


When it comes to your kids the worse thing you can do is focus on their physical appearance, shape, or her stomach in this situation. You only need to care healthy diet, healthy eating habits, healthy snacks, and being active as much as possible. Everything else will take care of itself.

Remember your building habits so make it normal for meals to be health and snacks to be health. Avoid soda, and sugary crap. Teach her to stop eating when she is full (none of this finish your plate crap) and to eat when she is hungry. Get her to drink water as the goto thing whenever she is thirsty. Make the sprite a special snack.

Edit: It's very normal and it will probably go away and I wouldn't worry about it personally.

  • @Beofett: Your 100% correct I have updated my answer.
    – Ominus
    Aug 18, 2011 at 17:28
  • She is 11 now and this trait did not go away. It appears more exercise may be the answer. My second daughter does not have this appearance. Jan 26, 2017 at 19:00

I understand she's more than reasonably active, so I'd say "wait and see"; many kids have a big tummy, but it usually goes away before school starts unless there are other factors involved.

You say she's near the top of the weight chart. Does that measure body weight vs. body size, or vs. age?

  • If vs. age then it would fit with being near the top of the growth chart; obviously tall people have more mass than short people.
  • If vs. body size then it means her BMI is high, but that doesn't have to be a sign of anything wrong or bad. Are you worried about this being a sign of obesity? Have you discussed this with the pediatrician, and what did he say?
  • 1
    I mean, it's possible it's just baby weight, too, right? My brother didn't lose his belly until he was a teenager, and my body mass altered when I was a teenager. I was "soft" throughout my childhood, and I was reasonably active.
    – Aarthi
    Jul 27, 2011 at 13:29
  • The weight and height charts measure her at 95/96 percentile for both height and weight. So basically she is up there on the weight for her age and up there on the height for her age. Many people mistake her for a first grader. Jul 27, 2011 at 13:34
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    So she has a high BMI - some people do, and it doesn't have to be a problem, just as Aarthi corroborates. if she's otherwise fine, then that's just how she is. Jul 27, 2011 at 14:03
  • Agreed! And, to add my two cents, both my brother and I were heavier-set kids growing up. Small Sibling, especially, was "softer" for most of his childhood. When he turned 15, he grew a foot in a summer and gained a bunch of muscle tone. shrug OP, just be sure you teach your daughter good eating and exercise habits and the rest will work itself out.
    – Aarthi
    Jul 27, 2011 at 16:01
  • Also, Babycenter has a thread with numerous other parents expressing concern about the same thing. It seems to be a sign that she'll have a growth spurt soon.
    – Aarthi
    Jul 27, 2011 at 16:07

Couldn't it also be an indicator of some kind of digestive issue? Have you consulted your pediatrician?

  • Also are you sure she's not eating things like crayons, play-dough, stuffed animal stuffing, paper, etc when you're not looking? Nov 1, 2012 at 22:19
  • Uhm, yes. No crayon/play dough eating. She is 6 now and has mostly grown out it. Nov 19, 2012 at 20:11

The weight charts are an awful tool. They are a variant of BMI which has probably done far more harm than good in the effort to reduce obesity. Two girls (or boys) can have the same height, but if you measure across their shoulders, their skeletons are clearly different. One may be 50% wider than the other. The BMI numbers will be far different for these two kids who are the same fitness, yet the 'wide' one will measure as overweight even if she has no belly, and is all muscle.

The charts used for kids are as bad as BMI,making no adjustment for body type /frame width.

  • BMI is a useful public health tool when used correctly.
    – DanBeale
    May 16, 2014 at 17:58
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    Can you give an example of correct usage? Are there cases where one is having an issue that's otherwise hidden and BMI reveals a cause for concern? May 16, 2014 at 18:05
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    @DanBeale I have a very large shoulder length, almost no belly, and I'm pretty tall. BMI tells me I'm overweigth. My six-pack disagrees. It is a useless tool.
    – T. Sar
    Jul 21, 2017 at 17:24

This is not really an aswer to your question, but since BMI charts have been brought into the discussion and this is too long for a comemnt, I'll post it as an answer. I won't get offended if someone else decides it needs to be deleted as off topic.

All of these charts start with underwater weighing as their foundation. The further they are from underwater weighing, the less useful they are. However, even underwater weighing has serious flaws - for starters it presumes that everything that is not fat has the same density. It presumes that everyone can evacuate their lungs to the same extent, and will do so uniformly on every measurement.

For underwater weighing, you are fitted with a diving belt, then you must exhale fully and hold still under the water long enough for the scale to balance. As an adult performing this exercise, I had difficulty staying still long enough to get a good reading while feeling like I was suffocating.

Charts for younger ages are extrapolated because you can't get a toddler to exhale fully and hold still under water long enough to get an accurate measure.

Most of these charts are calibrated on male athletes because that's who is attracted to Physical Education programs that do this kind of research. Nevertheless, body builders have incredibly high BMI's because they have lots of muscle, but they have very little fat. See this: http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/military-obesity-policy-bmi-tape-test , and this: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-1308410701.html

If the BMI index can't fairly represent a cross section of the population that it is primarily calibrated to, then it's of little value anywhere else.

In my opinion, BMI charts, particularly for preschoolers, belong in the same bucket with horoscopes and phrenology.

  • "phrenology" - I love it. I've never used the word without being asked what it meant. Glad to see it's still with us. Jul 21, 2017 at 17:49
  • But I think retro-phrenology is so much more fun!
    – pojo-guy
    Jul 21, 2017 at 18:58

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