Have you ever faced the weight gain problems in your baby? Even if not, this information will still be of great use to you. Let’s try to understand how children gain their weight within the first year of life.
After the birth, a baby should gain 400-500 grams of weight every month. But these figures are approximate. You should not constantly weigh the baby and panic when seeing the plump tummy, or, on the contrary, thin hands. Weight gain problems in babies usually “live” in the minds of parents and are not a reason of panic.
Particularities of baby’s development
Before you worry about the child, analyze the situation having answered the following questions:
• How often does the child spit up?
• Do you feed your baby formula or breast milk?
• What was the baby’s weight when he was born?
• What are the weight parameters of the baby’s mom and dad?
If the baby’s birth weight was more than 4 kg, he will gain weight faster than most of his peers. And conversely, babies with low birth weight gain normal weight longer. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible to overfeed the baby with breast milk. Therefore, be happy if the baby eats with gusto. But be careful with baby formula. Depending on a manufacturer and a type of formula, it can be either too high-calorie or “empty”. You can assess the impact of a baby formula only when watching your baby’s dynamics of weight.
Do not hurry up with the introduction of additional foods if your baby is skinny! Low weight is still better than allergies and digestive system problems that often appear when additional foods are introduced too early (up to 4 months). If the baby lags behind in weight gaining, better start introducing cereals as additional foods. If the baby doesn’t have weight gain problems, vegetable and fruit puree should become his first additional foods.
It is not necessary to impose strict restrictions. Children who stay on a diet, do not only make up leeway at the slightest relief but gain even more weight. If there are no any medical prescriptions, it is not necessary to forbid sweets for older children at all. Carrot and apple are acceptable to be an afternoon snack. Keep in mind that when you add sugar into cereal, puree, juice – there will not be any benefit from it.
Butter should not be added in baby’s diet at least up to 8 months of age. And a dose should not be more than five grams.
Stout babies often loose extra pounds having started to run and walk. And do not compare your child with the children of your friends. Low or excess weight is quite normal, because there are no identical people.
Now let’s answer some common questions
How to determine whether the baby gains weight?
The “starting point” should be a minimum weight of the child but not the birth weight. When the child’s minimum weight is fixes in the medical record, the physiological weight loss right after the birth (5.8%) is considered. Most often, there is no need to weigh the baby every day – the dynamics of gain is clearly seen when weekly measurements are made, and after eight weeks of age it’s enough to weight the child once a month.
What to do if the child slowly gains weight?
It is desirable to determine whether feeding is properly organized; whether the baby is breastfed often enough (at least 8-12 times a day); whether he has an opportunity to remain at the breast as much time as he wants to; whether the baby sucks at the breast in a proper position; whether he effectively sucks the milk. You can correct most of the causes of slow weight gain by yourself or with the help of a breastfeeding expert. It is also useful to “test wet diapers”: to check the frequency of urination (the norm is not less than 12 times a day). If necessary, your doctor or consultant will appoint supplementary feeding with expressed breast milk or baby formula, additional expressing and means inducing lactation.
Do I have to weigh my baby before and after feeding to see how much milk he has sucked?
It is not important how much milk the baby ate within one feeding but how much milks was absorbed (breast milk is absorbed very quickly, sometimes within 20 minutes). When feeding “on demand” the baby can suck the different amounts of milk every time, and during feeding urination can occur (weight can be affected by this as well). When you doubt, it is enough to weigh the child once a week for objective results, on the same scales, in the same clothes, or completely without it.
What gain is considered to be normal?
Within the first 4-5 months of age the normal gain is 125-215 g per week. After that, the weight gain slows down as the baby begins to actively move, roll over, crawl and walk then. After the first half of the year and the introduction of significant amount of additional foods you can focus on the current rates of height and weight conformity and the overall health of the child, as well as to consider his physical development and hereditary factor (height and weight of the parents).
Is large weight gain in babies who are breastfed dangerous?
Standards of weight gain that many pediatricians focus on are designed mainly for children fed baby formula. When the baby is fed formula weight gain is more predictable, and modern standards of child’s height and weight from birth to one year of age and from one year to three years of age are taken into account. However, too rapid weight gain with other symptoms may be a signal of endocrine, cardiovascular, and kidney diseases.
Why do children eat a lot?
• Increased weight gain (especially in children older than one and a half year of age) sometimes is a sign of some diseases, for example, juvenile diabetes.
• Often, a psychological discomfort of the child is the cause of increased appetite. Not much loved children usually eat in order not to feel their loneliness. Food is the most affordable way of consolation for them.
• Food helps when the child is bored. Those who do not have enough communication and games, strive to eat delicious foods. But the baby whose life is bright and rich, on the contrary, does not even ask to eat – he has no time for this! The task of the parents is to diversify the child’s life and to give him enough attention.
• Sometimes the weight gain problems in the child are rooted in the psychological problems of the parents. They think all the time that the baby is not enough plump and rosy, and ignore the advice of experts, thinking that the mother’s heart knows best how and when to feed.
• When the parents are plump so the excess weight is not a problem for them.
Why do children eat little?
Poor appetite can be explained by the features of baby’s biorhythms. Children who are night owls get up late, and their digestive system wakes up slowly too. So in the morning they do not want to eat. Moreover, a large breakfast is harmful for such children. Their liver produces little bile in the morning. And pancreatic enzymes are not ready to dissolve fatty acids, so fats are poorly absorbed. Babies-owls should be fed not earlier than 1-1.5 hours after waking up. A breakfast should be continental: give him yogurt instead of oatmeal. It’s better to have supper not at 6-7 pm but an hour or two later.
Children of a certain constitution (pale-skinned, fine-boned, small, and fragile) are indifferent to food from the birth. It’s hard sometimes to feed them but they must not be forced to eat. Even skinny children grow up healthy adults with normal weight.
It’s just necessary to care about enough elements and vitamins in their diet.
What to do?
First of all, you need to optimize meals for the whole family. The children copy their parents’ behavior and deeds. Therefore, if you decided to keep a balanced diet, you should do it altogether.
Adults and older children need to eat five times a day, in small portions. Products must be eco-friendly, and the diet should diverse (in compliance with the child’s age).
Diet for children from the year of age must contain the required nutrients: veal, fish, chicken, eggs. Children of any age must not keep an adult diet.
The body does not fully develop without animal proteins. You can limit the fat in sausages. But the butter and vegetable oil are useful in small quantities. They contain valuable vitamins, omega-3 and omega-6 acids. It will be necessary to differentiate carbohydrates. First of all, exclude easy digestible foods (semolina, white bread, pastries, sweets, sugar). And leave “slow” carbohydrates as the source of energy. Most fruits and vegetables, pasta made of durum wheat, any kind of porridge are useful.
Involve your child to play active games, make him move more. Physical activity activates the metabolism. If it is complicated to run for a little plumb child, he should learn to swim. Morning gentle exercises, massage, games and walks in the fresh air will help normalize weight.