New parents often focus on a baby’s weight gain as a sign of good health. Genetics, physical activity and whether you breastfeed or formula-feed your infant can all affect your baby’s weight gain. Gaining too much or too little weight can potentially indicate problems with your baby's feeding or development that need to be addressed so that he can grow at a healthy rate.
The Significance of Weight
Starting from the time of your child's birth, health-care providers will measure and plot your baby’s growth on a standardized growth chart. This growth chart, which generally includes height, weight and head circumference, helps doctors determine whether his growth remains on track. Dr. Steven Dowshen, a medical editor at the KidsHealth website, suggests that the consistency of your child’s weight gain -- and whether it conforms to his normal pattern -- is more important than the actual amount of weight gained.
A range of weight-gain scenarios can be normal for babies. Talk to your doctor about any concerns relating to your baby’s growth and weight gain. In general, you can expect your baby to gain about 5 to 7 ounces a week from birth to 6 months. From 6 to 12 months, she might gain 3 to 5 ounces a week. Babies usually double their birth weight by 6 months and triple it by 1 year of age.
The Bigger Picture
Dr. Jay Gordon, a pediatrician, nutritionist and board-certified lactation consultant, urges parents and medical practitioners to consider a baby’s overall health before diagnosing the child with inadequate weight gain. According to Gordon, doctors might be too quick to urge breastfeeding moms to supplement because of “inadequate weight gain” when the babies themselves show signs of good health such as copious amounts of clear urine, regular bowel movements, bright and alert eyes, mastery of developmental milestones and a happy disposition.
Although most doctors use the same growth chart for both formula-fed and breastfed infants, children fed differently often do not gain weight in the same manner. Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and author of “The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age 2”, suggests that breastfed babies tend to be leaner during their first year than their formula-fed counterparts. Sears states that breastfed babies might gain 1 to 2 lbs. a month for the first six months and 1 lb. a month from six months to a year.
Picky Eater Pitfalls
Toddlers usually grow at a significantly slower rate than they did as babies. They usually gain between 3 to 5 lbs. for the entire year, according to Dowshen. They also begin to eat less than they did as babies and might start to develop favorite foods. To avoid falling into a food rut, make sure you serve your child a variety of nutritious foods to encourage healthy weight gain now and adequate nutrition when the picky eater comes out.