The Tragic Real-Life Story Behind The Biggest Baby Ever Born

What do you think of as a chubby baby? Infants who are born a few pounds larger than normal are often complimented for their big cheeks and fat little legs. But a few pounds is nothing compared to the largest baby ever born. That little boy was 22 pounds at his birth in 1879, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, significantly more than the average newborn's 7.5 pounds today (via My Health Alberta). He was also 28 inches long, a good 40% longer than the average newborn height of 20 inches. That means he was about the size of an average 18-month-old when he was born (via Baby Center).

What accounts for the baby's height? It's at least partly genetics: The baby's parents were pretty tall, too. Anna Haining Bates and Martin Van Buren Bates were a giantess and giant, both coming in at nearly 8 feet tall, per Love to Know. It's probably not shocking that their baby was big — although, tragically, his life doesn't have a happy ending.

The baby's parents

Anna Haining Bates was born in 1846, according to the Halifax Examiner. By the time she was a teenager, she was much taller than anyone would have expected, according to The Vintage News. Standing a staggering 7-feet-11-inches tall, Bates was much taller than the average woman of the time who, in the late 1800s, stood at less than 5 feet, according to Our World in Data. She was also taller than most men, who at the time, stood at less than 5-feet-4-inches tall, a full 2.5 feet shorter than Bates.

After some time seeking out a career as an actor, Anna eventually joined the circus, where she performed as a giantess, per the Guinness Book of World Records. It was there that she met her soon-to-be husband, Martin Van Buren Bates. Martin, a former soldier, was also tall, though he didn't stand quite as high as Anna. He and his future wife performed together as a giant couple. They were married in a famous ceremony in England, according to AZ Animals, and soon decided to start a family together, according to The Vintage News.

The baby's birth

The baby boy was not Anna's only child, according to Love to Know. She had given birth to a daughter several years before, but the daughter did not survive past birth, according to The Vintage News. When the time came for the baby boy's birth, unfortunately, a second tragedy was on the horizon.

Anna went into labor in Ohio in 1879 (via the Guinness Book of World Records). A staggering 6 gallons of fluid were released when Anna's amniotic sac ruptured. The labor lasted more than a day and a half before the baby was finally born, according to The Vintage News.

However, the baby boy was not to have an easy or long life. Within only 11 hours after his birth, the baby died. He died so soon that his parents didn't name him, meaning he's been dubbed "Babe" in the history books. The baby was the last child that Anna would have.

Other large babies in history

Babe might be the largest baby ever born, but he's far from the only chubby newborn. In fact, babies are actually getting bigger and bigger each year, according to NBC News. Reasons for the change might include an increasing rate of gestational diabetes (via Healthline) and mothers' better health during pregnancy (via Reuters).

One large baby was born at Arlington Memorial Hospital in Texas in 2019, according to the New York Post. At nearly 15 pounds at birth, the baby was twice as heavy as the average newborn, despite being only 21 inches long, or only about 5% longer than average.

The baby was deemed by the hospital to be the largest baby ever born at the facility. The mother of the baby, who had other children, said that she expected her son would be chubby, but she thought he would be about 10 pounds. "We did not expect 14 pounds," she told the New York Post. "Nobody did."