After a baby is born, the most common question asked by the new parents and family members is regarding the baby’s health. A baby’s weight is commonly considered as an indicator of general health of the newborn. Questions like – “what’s the weight of the baby?” or ‘how is the baby growing?’ are quite common. Parents are mostly clueless about the ‘normal’ weight and growth of the baby and the following information will help you gain insight about a baby’s weight and other factors related to it.
Weight of new born babies
Babies who are born full-term (born between 38 to 40 weeks of gestation) normally weigh between 2.8 kilos to 4.1 kilos. A baby may weigh less or more than the average range of weight specified and can still be hearty and healthy.
A newborn’s weight may be affected due to many factors such as
- Gestation age of the baby: A baby may be born later than the due date or quite earlier than the due date. Babies who are born ‘full-term’ or later than the due date are of larger size and will weigh more than babies born earlier. Premature babies are known to be frail, small and weighing less than full-term babies
- Baby’s gender: It is mostly seen but is not completely reliable, that baby girls are of small size and weigh less than baby boys who are large and weigh more. Differences may not be much between the birth weight of a normal baby girl or a baby boy.
- Wellbeing of mother during pregnancy: Overweight mothers may give birth to babies with increased body fat who weigh more than average range of weight. The kind of lifestyle an expectant mother has or any particular kind of health conditions that she may be suffering from will have effect on the baby’s health and weight. A low-weight newborn can be due to the fact that the mother is suffering from hypertension, heart ailments or she may have been smoking, having alcohol or illicit drugs during her pregnancy. Many women suffer from diabetes or get gestational diabetes during pregnancy which can make the baby large for gestational age and weigh more than normal. The obstetrician needs to monitor a baby’s growth and progress in the womb and any factors which can affect the baby’s weight or general health should be taken care of.
- Physical built of parents: A baby will of course take over his/her parents and the same reasoning will apply regarding the baby’s weight and size. Parents who are well built and tall will have larger than average sized babies who will definitely weigh more. Parents who are of shorter stature will have smaller than average sized babies who will comparatively weigh less than the average weight.
- Diet during pregnancy: A rich calorie diet before and during the pregnancy by an expectant mother can make her baby weigh more than normal during birth. A pre-pregnancy and pregnancy diet should be nutritious and rich in essential vitamins and minerals as they are the driving force behind the baby growth and development. A diet which lacks any of the essential nutrients will result in health issues in the baby and low birth weight.
- Multiples birth: When a woman is carrying multiple babies that would mean shared space and shared nutrition. Multiple babies have lesser space to grow in the uterus and are mostly born before full term which results in small sized babies who weigh less than average.
- Newborns health at time of birth: The weight of the baby will depend on his/her health at the time of birth. Infections, health problems or birth defects can affect a baby’s size, weight and eventual development.
Weight Gain in Babies
A newborn will lose some weight in the first week after birth but will eventually gain back the lost weight within a fortnight. This happens because newborns are born with extra fluid in their body which they lose after birth which is seven to ten percent of the birth weight. A baby will gain weight in the first month itself by about 140 grams in a week. A baby who is unwell or premature may take a while (about three weeks) to gain back the birth weight. It is also seen that the growth and weight of babies vary depending on whether they are breastfed or formula fed. Babies who are formula fed grow quickly in size and weight when compared to breastfed babies but that does not mean that bigger is better as breast milk contains many health benefits which outdo any commercial formula. Both breastfed and formula fed babies will eventually grow normally.
Ways to keep a check on your baby’s weight
A newborn baby is constantly monitored and weighed during the stay in hospital after childbirth. Pediatrician’s visits will involve regular monitoring of the baby’s growth and progress. You may keep a tab on your baby’s weight by keeping a check on his feeding frequency and bowel movements.
- A one-week old baby will be having minimum four to five soiled diapers a day while five to six wet diapers a day. This may vary from time to time and breastfed babies have more bowel movements than formula fed babies. A regular bowel movement will mean normal intake of food.
- Also look out for a satiated baby after feeding, a baby should feel calm and peaceful after a feeding. Monitor the alertness of the baby; he/she should be playful during the non-sleeping hours. A well fed and alert baby is healthy and will surely gain weight gradually. It is important to remember that all babies are different and grow differently, so fret not about weighty issues. The size and weight of the baby does not necessarily indicate his future growth and size. When grown up, children will only take after their parents’ built additional to proper nutrition being provided in the growing years and throughout. It is better if you discuss with your doctor about any doubts that you have about your baby’s weight.