Newborns bring a lot of excitement and happiness in your life, but raising them can also be a challenging task. Any health issue with your little one can be scary since they cannot tell you the problem or pain. The most accurate indicator of overall health and well- being is newborn weight gain.
One of the best ways to measure the fitness and health of your newborn baby is by their weight. Being aware of newborn weight gain per week or month is a great way to gauge their overall health at this age.
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Why does newborn weight gain matter?
You and your doctor can get a good sense of your baby’s general health by tracking his or her height and weight.
The baby’s weight is measured at birth, after 24 hours of birth, and again at every visit. All the measurements are recorded on the baby growth chart.
If your baby is not gaining weight at a healthy rate, then he or she may be suffering from a condition known as failure to thrive.
Failure to thrive occurs when a baby is not eating well or is not absorbing the nutrients as they should.
It can also be a sign of other health-related issues so it’s important to see your doctor if your baby is not gaining the proper weight.
What is the average weight loss of a newborn after birth?
Babies often lose weight after a few days of their birth. They are born with many extra fluids that are eliminated after birth.
A newborn baby often loses 5 to 10% of their body weight in the first days after delivery and this is an average or normal amount.
However, if the baby loses more than 10% by the time of discharge or the few days after delivery, it is considered abnormal and will be monitored more closely.
For example, if your baby was born at 6lbs 10 oz and leaves the hospital weighing 6lbs 2 oz (a loss of 8 oz or about 8% of their body weight), that is normal and they’re doing fine.
If that baby weighs in at 5 lbs 14 oz (a loss of 11oz or about 12% of their body weight), that is likely to need a little more attention.
There is not always a need for alarm, but it’s best to be aware so you can find ways to improve your newborn’s weight gain.
How much weight should your baby gain per month?
Babies have different growth and size every month. The weight gain of your baby depends on various factors, including genetics and feeding.
If your baby is breastfed, he is more likely to gain weight faster than a formula-fed baby in the first two months, but the same baby will gain weight slower than the baby using formula up until his first birthday.
Of course, with a breastfed baby, this is also determined by the amount of milk produced by the mother.
Here is a guideline that may help you to track your baby’s healthy growth per month.
0-1 month old
Babies often gain 2/3 ounce to 1-ounce of weight per day and from 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length over the course of the whole month.
Most babies lose some weight in the first few days after birth, but after a week to 10 days, they should be back to their birth weight.
1-4 months old
Usually, weight gain by the baby in this period is 1-1/2 to 2 pounds per month, and the growth is 1 to 1-1/2 inches each month. In this time, your baby looks plump, but as his activity increases, it is replaced by developing muscles.
6 months old
By this age, your baby should have just about doubled their birth weight. So a 7lb baby will weigh approximately 14lbs at this time.
12 months old
A healthy and well-grown baby has just about tripled weight from the birth weight and will have a growth of 9-12 inches from the original birth length.
Tracking on a Growth Chart
At each of your baby’s well visits, the pediatrician will track the weight, growth, and size of your baby, and all the measurements will be recorded in the growth chart (specific to gender).
Don’t be too concerned about your baby only being on the average or 50 percentile at every measurement. Your baby is healthy when they follow the growth chart and increase on their own percentile or ranking.
For example, if your baby had a lower weight at birth and the first few weeks and was measuring in the 10th percentile, they are perfectly healthy if they continue to grow along the 10th percentile line on the chart. If they drop down to 2% or even increase quickly to the 50th percentile, that could be alarming.
The same goes for a larger baby. If they started at the 90th percentile and then drop down to the 50th percentile, that could be a concern even though they are still in the ‘average’ body weight.
Keep track of your baby’s weight at home by investing your own infant scale like the one shown above. This always helped with my own peace of mind so I didn’t need to visit the doctor every time I was concerned.
Use the Babycenter growth tracker to input the measurements yourself so you can see how they fall on the growth chart, as well.
If the doctor is not concerned about your baby’s weight or sizes, then you also do not need to worry.
Factors that contribute to newborn weight gain
There are many factors and variables that contribute to newborn weight gain. Remember, your baby doesn’t have to fall completely in the average threshold to be healthy.
Some of them are listed below:
- Diet and weight of the mother, before and during the pregnancy, if the mother is overweight, then the baby will be heavier, if the mother does not get enough nutrients during pregnancy, then the baby may be smaller.
- Prenatal health of the mother (drinking or smoking)
- Genetics, the weight of both mother and father at birth and as adults
- Gender of the baby
- Whether babies are twins or triplets
- Baby’s race
It’s very typical for smaller parents to have smaller babies and larger parents to have larger babies. Therefore, if your baby is on track with their genetics, they should be fine.
How to tell if your baby is thriving
Although a newborn’s weight gain is the best indicator for their health, you may not always be able to get an accurate daily measurement (unless you purchased an infant scale).
Here are some ways to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat:
- How many feedings a day your baby gets. A breastfed baby may feed about 8 or more times in a 24-hour period; formula-fed babies usually eat less often, perhaps every 3 to 4 hours.
- How much your baby eats at each feeding. A baby generally nurses for at least 10 minutes, should be heard swallowing after 3 or 4 sucks and should seem satisfied or content when done eating. At this age, formula-fed babies may drink up to 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 milliliters) at a time.
- How often your baby pees. A breastfed baby may have only 1 or 2 wet diapers a day until the mother’s milk comes in. Expect about 6 wet diapers by 3 to 5 days of age for all babies. After that, babies should have at least 6 to 8 wet diapers a day.
- How many bowel movements your baby has each day and what they’re like. Newborns may have only one poopy diaper a day at first. Poop is dark and tarry the first few days, then becomes soft or loose and greenish-yellow by about 3 to 4 days. Newborns usually have several poopy diapers a day if breastfed and fewer if formula-fed.
If your baby isn’t having or doing one or more of these things, contact your physician immediately.
How to manage too much gain or loss of weight
If your baby is continuously gaining less weight than the recommendation, then you must find out the problem and try to fix it.
If the main reason for the imbalance in the baby’s weight gain is insufficient feeding or disinterest in feeding:
- Be sure to feed the baby 8 to 10 times per day. Feed the baby after every three hours in a day and 4 hours at night or more if needed.
- Use a medicine syringe/dropper to insert breastmilk or formula into the baby’s mouth.
If your baby is breastfed, they may not be getting enough milk due to poor latch, tongue or lip tie, or does not know how to coordinate the jaw muscles.
- Use a good breast pump to pump the milk for bottle feedings. Your baby might do better with a bottle nipple as opposed to a breast nipple because it is easier to suck. Read more about what to do when your baby refuses to breastfeed.
- Speak to a lactation consultant to help with latch and breastfeeding
Your baby may not be draining at least one breast at each feeding losing the highest fat milk (hindmilk) that comes at the end.
- Feed the baby at one breast for 10-15 minutes before offering the second one to ensure they are receiving the hindmilk
Related Post: First Steps to Breastfeeding Success
If you are not producing a sufficient amount of milk for your baby from pumping or breastfeeding,
- Try formula in a bottle. Start with the lowest flow nipple (Level 0 or 1)
- Use natural supplements to increase your milk supply
- Choose the right position for sleeping to produce enough milk- not on your stomach
- Take in more calories and water to increase supply and nutrient sin breastmilk
If the baby seems to have trouble with a bottle nipple, gagging or having to suck too hard:
- Try different bottle nipples. There are various flows form easy to hard. Try out different ones by starting with level 0 and working up to level 2 if needed.
Related Post: 11 Common Concerns About Formula Feeding
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Newborn weight gain and size vary with his or her growth. Checking the size and weight of your baby every month according to the recommendation of baby well-visits is important.
If your baby is not gaining weight as he should, then you must find out the problem and fix it. If your baby is still not gaining weight, then you should see the doctor immediately.
Donna Huff is a Blogger from For Sweet Littles. She also is a motivational speaker and mother of two cute kids.