Babies are usually not classified as obese. Instead, they are either large, a good size, small for their gestational age, or weeks of pregnancy.
Paeditricians whom LifeStyle spoke to said young dhildred up to one year old are simply too young to be classified as obese.
The issue of when the size of a large baby becomes a concern was raised by a recent case in the United States where a baby was initially denied health insurance for being overweight. Four-month-old alex Lange tipped the scales at 7.7kg, falling into the 99th growth percentile for babies his age. But he was still declared healthy by doctors.
Associate Professor Lee Yung Seng, senior consultant at the University Children's Medical Institute at National University Hospital, said: "It's quite ridiculous to call a baby obese. The term has negative connotations and we don't want to cause parents undue worry. Generally, we are more confident about assessing any potential weight issues when a child has reached one year of age."
Associate Professor Mary Daniel, head of the Neonatal Ambulatory Service at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) said: "Babies who have poor growth before delivery and born with low birth weights often catch-up weight gain in infancy."
Infants are never put on any restrictive diet, regardless of their weight. "There is no such thing as low-fat milk for babies. They need nutrients to grow," said Dr Ang Ai Tin, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at Thomson Medical Centre.
She added that for large children up to two years of age, they could go on to shed excess weight "because they are active and constantly running around".
Public relations manager Karen Lai, 33, is the mother of two children aged two and four, who are "perfectly healthy and fine and extremely active".
"A few years ago, everyone thought my son Bijan was chubby and they were always pinching him. But the doctors never said it was a cause for concern and he is leaner now," she said.
Nevertheless, some go on to develop weight issues as toddlers between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Parents can monitor their children's growth by the act of what doctors call "eyeballing".
This is done by comparing their children to others of the same age to see if they are noticably bigger. And even if they are so, they are not necessarily overweight.
Fromn an early age, 32-year old Aishah Haroon's daughter was often mistaken for the elder of the two daughters.
Now at 2 1/2 years old, Fatimah is 2kg heavier than her sister Khadijah, who is a year older.
"Fatimah eats a lot but doctors say her weight is at a healthy level," said Ms Aishah, who works in advertising.
Obesity tends to be detected only from primary school onwards as there is no formal screening programme before that. As such, doctors advise parents to update their child's growth charths, marking down their height, weight and head circumsference. The growth chart helps doctors monitor a child's growth in relation to other children his age, in order to determine which growth percentile the child falls into.
While there is no standard definition of childhood obesity applied worldwide, overweight is often defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of between the 85th and 95th percentile. Anything above the 95th percentile is considered obesity.
A child may also be genetically predisposed to weight gain, although in rare cases it may be due to medical problems such as hormonal imbalance.
"If one parent is obese, the risk of obesity in adulthool is three times higher. If both are obese, the risk increases to 10 times," said Prof Daniel
In most cases, the problem is due to the child's diet. As such, it is necessary to ensure that the child is eating a variety of foods in the right proportions. The eating habits of parents are also examined, as bad eating habits tend to run in the family.
Prof Lee stressed: "We emphasise healthy eating for children rather than put them on restrictive diet as they still need nutrients to grow." The objective, he added, is to slow down the weight gain rather than to lose weight.
For overweight children, he recommends cutting down on deep-fried food such as French fries, as well as carbohydrates and sweet things such as soft drinks and cakes. Other doctors add that fruit and vegetables are an integral part of the diet.
Prof Lee also encourages them to lead a physically active lifestyle. He warned: "Many overweight toddlers tend to become overweight children and then overweight adults."