Infant Weight Gain
Babies grow a lot in the first year after their birth. They gain almost three times their weight, and also increase their height by more than 50%. Pediatricians and health care professionals keep track of infant weight gain to monitor the various milestones of growth crossed throughout the year. Weight gain in infants is an important parameter that points to good overall general health. Progress in mental and physical development of the child is monitored by maintaining an infant weight gain chart.
How much a child weighs at birth is determined by a number of factors such as the genetic traits of size inherited from parents, premature birth or delayed birth after the due date, gender, the mother’s physical health, and diet during pregnancy, etc. Being a part of a multiple pregnancy of twins, triplets or quadruplets does mean a smaller size at birth for most babies, and weight gain for infants of such pregnancies is an important indicator of wellness.
Infant weight gain is only one of the criteria used to measure a baby’s growth. Doctors also take the length of the baby and the circumference of its head at each visit to the pediatrician to be noted in the infant growth chart. Absence of adequate toddler weight gain is called failure to thrive, particularly when the growth curve seems to become more flat.
Normal weight gain for infants happens after the first two weeks, at an average of one to two pounds per month in the first six months. Newborn babies may lose some weight in the first few days after birth because they lose the excess fluid in their body. How much weight a new born loses will also depend on how the baby is fed. A breast fed baby may lose up to 10% of its birth weight in the first week, while a formula fed baby may lose just 5% of its weight.
Newborn weight gain remains more or less parallel for the first four months for breast fed and formula fed babies. After the initial four months, more rapid infant weight gain is seen in formula fed babies as compared to breast fed babies. Mothers should let their pediatricians know how the baby is fed, so that this factor is taken into account while judging the baby’s growth and progress using an infant weight gain calculator. Premature infant weight gain is normally more closely monitored, and the growth chart for these babies is adjusted to reflect their early birth.
Your infant’s diet is not the only factor that determines weight gain. There are a number of other factors that help determine weight gain. The body’s metabolic rate differs from baby to baby as a result of which calories are burned differently. It is seen that the baby’s temperament also to some extent influences weight gain. Laid-back, mellow babies gain weight faster as the calories they burn are fewer. Whereas it is seen that active babies tend to burn more calories, and are thus comparatively leaner.