Every baby is born different. Hence, they have unique habits and each has a different pace of growth and development. While weight gain among newborn babies depends upon a number of factors like gender, race, ethnicity, genetic structure of parents, mother's health and gestation period of pregnancy, there are statistics of average weight gain for babies who are breastfed, that can help you make the comparison with your baby's weight. Did you know? Your baby will approximately weigh twice as much as he/she weighed at birth, within 3 to 4 months, and thrice the same weight in the first year. But has your baby also lost weight since birth?
You need not be worried because a 5% to 10% weight loss is generally observed in babies within 3 to 4 days of birth. So, are you breastfeeding your baby sufficiently? Mother's milk has enough nutrients for a newborn, hence, all pediatricians recommend exclusively feeding the child with breast milk for the first six months since birth. As previously mentioned, the weight loss noted among babies within 3 to 4 days of birth should be regained in the next two weeks.
Weight Gain Statistics
- The average weight observed in babies, at birth, is 6 to 9 pounds.
- After 2 weeks of birth, the baby will gain approximately 5 to 8 ounces every week.
- Every month, your baby will show a steady weight gain of 1 to 2 pounds.
- Girls weigh more than boys when they are 4 months old. Average weight of a breastfed baby girl is 13 pounds and that of a baby boy is 12 pounds.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), babies who are breastfed exclusively gain 34.5 g weight per day and 110 to 200 g per week in the first month. In the next 4 months, this figure stands at 18.75 g per day.
- For babies who are breastfed, average weight gain is at least 100 g per week and 500 g per month in the same time frame. Later, the weight gain may drop to 80 g per week.
- For babies who are breastfed between 6 to 12 months since birth, average weight gain is a pound a month.
- A baby is likely to grow an inch a month in the first 6 months and half an inch each month, in the next 6 months.
- A sick baby needs up to 3 weeks to recover the weight loss.
- Extra fluid retention during pregnancy due to IV fluids can lead to a heavier baby at birth. However, your baby will lose all the extra water weight in the first 72 hours of birth, leading to a weight loss.
Factors Affecting Weight Gain in Breastfed Babies
Did you know? All babies have different metabolism rates inherited from their parents. This is evident in their body shapes. Longer babies burn calories faster than the plumper or wider ones. If your baby is apple-shaped or pear-shaped, he/she will show more weight gain that increase in height in the infant years. The weight of a baby is not necessarily an indicator of fat deposits. It may be water retention as well, especially post breastfeeding and before bowel movements occur. Sleeping with your baby at night will provide him an unrestricted access to nursing at night and will grow a lot faster.
If you feed your baby on schedule, he will show a slower rate of growth. The more active your baby is, the leaner he will be irrespective of regular and ample breastfeeding. However, a lazy baby will gain weight faster. Another interesting fact is, breastfed babies learn to regulate their own milk intake according to their appetite. If your baby shows slower than usual growth in one week but is hale and hearty, he/she will make up for it by faster growth in the next week.
Your baby may be growing bigger slowly, that is, they show very less weight gain but it is always steady. Even if your baby's weight gain patterns do not resemble these above statistics but he/she shows good skin elasticity, activeness, clear urine, has 5 to 6 wet diapers and 3 to 4 dirty diapers (good bowel movements), your baby is in perfect health. Most charts for average birth weight in babies show statistics for formula fed babies. Your breastfed baby will show different weight gain patterns. Hence, do not be misled and make sure your pediatrician provides the new growth chart, issued by WHO,for babies who are breastfed. Also, while measuring your breastfed baby's weight gain, compare it to the lowest weight measured which need not be the birth weight of your baby.
It is very important to understand your newborn's hunger patterns and to fulfill his/her appetite else it can result in serious malnourishment and weight loss. While you weigh your baby, preferably weigh him/her on the same scale, without clothes, every single time. It will give you the exact changes in weight gain/loss. If you have only been breastfeeding your baby, he/she will tend to look leaner in comparison to those babies who are not just breastfed. However, breastfed babies tend to gain weight a lot more quickly than formula fed ones in the first 3 months and then slow down. You need not be worried because your milk is very beneficial for the baby's health and will ensure a healthy child in future.