Q&A: Baby's Weight Gain in the First Yearby Fiona Marshall, Child Development Specialist
My 1 year old baby (girl) is weighing 14.5 pounds which is 2 times of her birth weight. But I heard that about 1 year the baby should weigh 3 times of her birth weight. But my baby is doing very fine in other milestones. Can you clear my concern about this weight factor?
Thanks for your query about your baby's weight. Weight can be a really emotional issue for many parents, as it's a visible sign of how well their baby is thriving, and some mothers can worry if they suspect their baby isn't gaining enough.
Your baby is expected to have roughly doubled her birth weight by six months, and from then on, weight gain slows to approximately 0.5kg/1lb a month. So, by the official charts, your baby may be slightly leaner than the norm, but don't panic! There are many reasons why she may not be as chubby as the baby next door.
First, why is weight important anyway? Measuring weight gain is the most practical way of measuring your child's growth and physical health, including parts of her body that can't be seen, such as bones, brain and internal organs. Weight gain tells you whether your baby is getting enough food and if that food is being absorbed, which is crucial as malnutrition in the early months can cause problems with physical growth and brain development.
However it is important to look at weight within the context of baby's general development, as you have done. Is she's lively and energetic, and reaching physical milestones comfortably? For example does she sit well, crawl, and maybe stand? Is she curious and sociable? Does she love to explore the world with her hands? In other words, if she's happy and generally thriving on her current food intake, there is probably no need to worry.
Certain factors influence your baby's weight gain:
* activity level - a thin, lively, wakeful baby who's busy and mobile may take the same food as a quieter baby, but put on less weight because her activity burns up more calories.
* genetic inheritance - some babies are naturally thinner
* gender - boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls
* general health
* type of food offered (see below, nutrition.)
* psychological factors - if you, mother, are under stress, babies can sometimes react and gain less weight also.
What about nutrition? Ensure enough food is offered from all the major food groups - carbohydrates (bread, cereal, rice and pasta); fruit and vegetables; proteins (meat, fish, thoroughly cooked eggs, dairy foods, nuts (unless allergic) and pulses; and fats, oils and sugars. Offer snacks two or three times a day as well as main meals. Don't make your baby eat a 'healthy diet' - low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high-fiber diets may be good for adults, but can result in malnutrition in babies. However, don't offer too many sugary foods and never offer salt.
* Keep mealtimes relaxed, sociable events.
* Give your baby enough time to finish a meal. Let her play with her food and make a mess, if need be.
* Don't have the tv on during meals as it can distract her.
* Don't pressure her to eat or reward her for eating - most healthy kids eat when hungry.
* Don't follow her around the house, offering titbits on a spoon - she'll sense your anxiety and play up to it!
If you still have concerns about your baby's weight, do not ignore them. Ask your regular health care provider for advice. He or she may suggest having baby's weight monitored for a few weeks. As well as more frequent weighing, your health care provider may check for other signs of well being, such as regular wet diapers, general happiness and responsiveness, good eye contact and skin color, and subcutaneous fat on her arms and thighs.
Along with prolonged failure to gain weight, real signs of concern include:
* baby not interested in feeding
* baby is hot
* crying a lot, and can't be pacified
* hasn't passed urine in the last four hours
In the case of any of the above symptoms, get baby medically checked as soon as possible. Remember, the suggestions above are not an individual medical diagnosis, so it is important to trust your own intuition, and talk things over with a medically qualified person who can see and assess your baby personally.
Hope your baby continues to thrive!
All best wishes,
FionaFiona Marshall is a Child Development Specialist and author of several books including "101 Questions about Your Baby's Development".
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