Weight gain in newborns is very important to watch. When we become parents, we’re given one of the most important responsibilities of our lives—caring for a living being.
In this entry:
- How do I know if my baby is gaining their proper weight?
- Why to some babies gain weight slower than others?
- Factors that influence a baby’s weight gain
- Weight gain in a premature baby
All parents want the best for their baby, hoping that nothing happens them and that they have perfect health. After birth, everything that affects our baby in their outside life, learning to drink, gain weight and grow, requires time and adaptation. Physiologically, it’s normal that a newborn loses weight after their birth. Different elements in their environment will predispose them to this; loss of warmth, loss of meconium and urine, lack of energy and cutting the umbilical cord, which no longer supplies them the liquid support coming from their mother. After birth, the baby becomes a separate entity with needs to ensure their growth and proper development.
If a baby is born with lower weight, it’s a symptom rather than a diagnosis, but the situation needs to be remedied. This is why it’s important to monitor the newborn’s weight gain.
How do I know if my baby is gaining their proper weight?
After birth, a baby’s weight loss can be up to 10–12%. For certain children, this equals several grams lost in only a few short days. Health professionals will spend time and energy to support you to ensure the baby gains weight quickly. Ideally, a baby should have regained their birth weight within two weeks after birth. Over a couple of days, some may surpass this initial weight while others will take more time, climbing the weight curve slower. This doesn’t mean your baby is sick or is doing poorly. Each situation and each baby must be evaluated individually.
Each baby has their growth profile, but average weight gain for a baby born at term and in good health is about 30 g a day or 210 g a week (1/2 pound) up to three months. After that, their pace of growth will diminish slightly until six months to one year. Generally, the vast majority of babies will double or almost double their birth weight—thus your baby will grow very quickly in their first year.
Your baby’s growth and development, weight gain, size and head measurements (cranial perimeter) will help health professionals monitor their growth over time. This data, taken during medical visits, is entered in your baby’s file and the curve graph developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In 2010 growth curves were updated then revised in 2014 and adopted by the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Canadian Pediatric Endocrine Group (CPEG) for both babies born at term and curves for premature babies. They’re adapted based on the child’s sex, as the growth of a baby girl is different from a boy. These curves are also adapted based on different countries and population characteristics. Monitoring curves allows professionals to confirm the proper growth or quickly find nutritional or health problems in babies. But beware the tyranny of the scale!
We know that a baby’s weight can vary if we use different scales. Are they properly calibrated? Sometimes scales can give false readings that lead to stress for professionals and especially parents. Weighing a baby remains an evaluation tool, but the result, the number, shouldn’t be taken on its own. You have to evaluate the baby while feeding, complete a full clinical exam, note their normal behaviour and watch the production and frequency of feedings.
Why to some babies gain weight slower than others?
Based on available statistics, 18% of newborns will struggle gaining weight after birth. Slower weight gain is caused by certain factors, both in the baby and the breastfeeding mother.
To continue the article, please go to Factors that influence a baby’s weight gain.
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