It is common to be concerned about the increase in your baby's weight, especially for exclusively breastfed babies.
‘’Doctor, my baby is not gaining weight properly.’’
‘’Doctor, my baby doesn’t eat anything.’’
These are two of the most common problems that you would find on parenting forums, and also the ones I hear almost every day at my clinic. So, for every parent concerned about their baby’s weight, I would like to tell you, step by step what you need to be knowing and doing when it comes to all your concerns regarding your baby’s weight.
*Please note, this is only for exclusively breastfed babies under 6 months.*
Increasing your baby's weight
At birth, a baby’s weight should be approximately 3 kg or more than that. Less than 2.5 kg is regarded as low birth weight. Babies lose their weight in initial days and regain their birth weight at around 10th to 14th day of life. In the first 3 months, the growth rate is approximately 25 to 30 gm per day after that it will increase by 400gm per month until 1 year of your baby’s life.
Weight will double at 5 months and triple at 1 year. Usually, parents compare their baby’s weight with others and get frustrated if their baby is not healthy.
Factors highly related to increasing your baby's weight
There are two parts...
Start from the day you decided to have a baby. Maternal nutritional status and medical fitness have a major role to play here. A single infection can cause the low birth weight of baby or preterm. In the U.S., dental infection is one of the major causes of a preterm baby. We advise couples to consult before and after pregnancy for any problem. You can have folic acid 3 months before conception. A short interval of previous pregnancy, maternal hemoglobin level, nutritional status, high BP(PIH), viral infection, bleeding per vaginal, chromosomal abnormalities, can be the cause of low birth weight of the child, premature or IUGR baby. Women should have healthy food, do some light exercise and try to live a stress-free life all throughout their pregnancy.
Secondly, let’s focus on a baby born with a certain weight and maturity. Weight less than 2.5 kg is low birth weight and birth before 37 weeks denotes a premature baby. Baby’s weight gain is mostly affected by recurrent infection, feeding, and temperature for initial days.
Too hot or too cold weather can affect your baby’s weight. Dress your baby according to the need of the hour. Stick to only cotton clothing when it is summer and make sure to keep your baby warm during the winters. Don’t overdress your baby thinking he might catch a cold when the weather is pleasant, as it may cause more irritation in him.
Infection control in newborn babies
Newborn babies have low immunity by default, so chances of infection are much more in them compared to adults. To prevent infections, you should remember these things:
-Try to touch your baby after a hand wash and try to not touch the area above the wrist joint. If you touch your baby by the infected hand and the baby keeps the same hand in his mouth, he’s likely to get stomach infection.
-Don’t give any antibiotics without consulting doctor and complete a full course of antibiotics.
-Immunize your child as per schedule.
-Avoid bottle feed if possible and if you are using it, it should be properly sterilized.
Exclusive breastfeeding is advised till 6 months. Generally, a problem with breastfeeding is either problem in milk production and ejection or technique of feeding.
Milk production and ejection
Milk production is controlled by prolactin hormone. The more often baby nurses, the more milk you make. Oxytocin hormone is responsible for milk ejection. Suckling thought of the baby, sound, and sight of baby stimulate milk ejection. Stress is the major suppress of milk ejection. Plenty of water, milk, apricot, poppy seed, papaya, oatmeal, carrot, bottle gourd, funnel seed, basal leaf, can be used for augmentation of milk production.
Proper positioning and attachment are necessary for successful breastfeeding. Try to feed the baby with one breast at a time so baby can get foremilk and hindmilk both. For flat or inverted nipple can be corrected by a syringing method. Tongue tie or fungal infection can be the cause of improper feeding. Feed your baby on demand or every 2 hours. If the baby is satisfied, he should sleep for 2 to 3 hours after feeding, and pass urine 6 to 8 times. 5 to 10 minutes are sufficient for feeding; if your baby takes half an hour means you had less milk production. Initial 3 months feeding frequency should be 8 to 10 times a day; after that 7 to 8 times a day may be sufficient.
Conditions related to baby
For preterm and low birth weight, Kangaroo mother care is very useful, wherein the baby is kept in a vertical position between the mother’s breast under the clothes so that there is a skin to skin contact. You have to keep the baby for at least 1 to 2 hours in a single sitting and as long as you can.
It helps in milk production and weight gain of the baby. Repeated infection of the respiratory tract, stomach infection, urinary tract infection, some congenital infection, or metabolic disorder may cause slow weight gain in babies.
Neurological insult during delivery may cause slow weight gain with delayed milestones.
Motherhood is a great honor and privilege. It is the most challenging yet utmost satisfying job and as in every job, the first year is the most difficult one with less paying and no vacation, motherhood is no different.
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