It’s Alright to be Little Bitty

“What a BIG boy!” is what we constantly say to our young boys, right? But what happens when your son is the complete opposite of big? More like, tiny? I’m not just talking petite but rather clinically diagnosed as small for gestational age. That’s my 4 year old Liam.

Liam was born as a micropreemie and tipping the scales at a mere 15 ounces. Since his birth, gaining weight has always been a battle. When he was an infant, I was pumping around the clock and even adding formula in hopes to bulk up my breast milk so he could quickly gain the weight he so desperately needed. After three months in the NICU, my tough guy came home at a small four pounds.

Once Liam started table food, we again tried to get him to gain the necessary weight he was missing. We met with dietitians routinely and focused on feeding him healthy fats in hopes he would gain some weight. Besides not packing on the pounds, Liam has never had a big appetite. So, then we started taking an appetite stimulant.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, Liam still remains to barely make it on the growth charts. When meeting other children and adults, he is constantly reminded of his stature.

“You can’t be 4, I’m 4!” and “Look at how much bigger I am than you!”

“Look how cute! How old are you big guy, 2?”

“Does he eat? Picky eater?”

I can’t help but feel a bit of anger at these questions. Since Liam’s birth, we have spent countless hours on him trying to gain weight. Dietitians, feeding clinics and specialists … you name it!

While I know that his short stature and size are more than obvious, I just feel bad that it is always commented on. Everyone can tell by his appearance how small Liam is, and I get worried how this will affect him as he ages. Boys are supposed to be big and tall, right?

As Liam ages, I hope he grows into a fantastic young man. I’m not just talking about his height, but I hope he continues to be the sweet, hilarious and energetic boy that he is now and that he won’t be defined by his height but rather all the incredible qualities that he exudes.

He may not be on the growth chart but he is far exceeding our expectations in every other category!

Mary Olivio
Mary is a caffeine addicted boy mom to Noah, Liam and Luke. This “stay at home” mom can typically been found cruising in her minivan, jamming to Beyonce with a Starbucks in hand on her way to carpool or after school activities. Mary has been married to her high school sweetheart since 2007. She is a founder of Delivering Hope NOLA and the Vanessa Wolff Scholarship Fund at her Alma Mater. Mary is passionate in the local preemie community and has been heavily involved with the March of Dimes since her sons Liam and Luke were born premature.


  1. My son, Andrew is 6 years old and is very small also. To make matters more difficult for him he has a twin sister who towers over him and a younger sister (age 5) who has also passed him up. EVERYONE seems to think that it is ok to make comments to him. About a year ago he picked up the line “People come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.?” This seems to shut people up because nobody wants to talk about race or obesity with my 6 year old.

    I’m sure that all of the comments are having an effect on his confidence, but as his mom I can only help him face others head on.

    Best of luck to you and Liam,


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