Your baby’s weight is one of the primary markers of his overall health. According to the American Pregnancy Association, healthy babies will gain about 5 to 7 ounces per week for the first few months of their lives and most will have doubled their weight by the time they reach the 3- to 4-month mark. As your baby inches toward his first birthday, you’ll want to keep an eye on his weight gain – or loss – as an indicator of his well-being.
The primary way you’ll be able to monitor your baby’s weight gain is at his wellness checkups. Your newborn will be weighed immediately after birth, and then several times over the course of his stay in the hospital. He’ll also be weighed about a week after birth at your pediatrician’s office, and then, if the doctor feels the need, again within two to three weeks of his birth. The American Pregnancy Association says you shouldn’t be alarmed if your baby’s weight drops in the first few days after birth; by about 10 to14 days after birth, your baby’s weight should return to normal.
Count Those Diapers
Aside from regular doctor visits, you can make sure your baby is receiving adequate nutrition by checking his diapers. Whether he’s formula- or breastfed, your baby should have about 5 to 7 wet diapers a day and 3 to 4 bowel movements a day, states the American Pregnancy Association. As your baby grows and adapts to eating more, he may have fewer bowel movements than he did as a newborn; however, if you notice a significant drop-off in the number of wet and dirty diapers per day, consult your pediatrician.
Make Sure She's Satisfied
Your baby’s food intake will also help you monitor her growth. After your baby eats, watch for signs of satisfaction. Typically, your baby will let you know if she’s full or if she wants more, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. At each feeding, you’ll learn to recognize your baby’s cues. If she moves away from the nipple or dozes off, she’s likely full. On the other hand, if she keeps smacking her lips or starts to fuss, she likely wants more. By the end of her first month of life, she should be drinking about 4 ounces of formula; by six months, that number will rise to 6 to 8 ounces.
The importance of tracking your baby’s weight gain cannot be underestimated. Children who are not gaining weight at a normal pace can be diagnosed with “failure to thrive,” a condition in which a baby’s height, weight and head circumference don’t follow standard growth charts. Failure to thrive can result in significant physical, emotional and mental developmental delays. If you have any concerns that your baby isn’t growing at a typical rate, consult your pediatrician.