The issue of baby’s weight is one most mums are very concerned about before delivery, after delivery and for the first few years of the child’s life. Many are even concerned up to the adolescent period.
Not only Mums are concerned, we as Paediatricians are concerned as well! This is because the underlying factor in more than 50% of all under-five deaths is MALNUTRITION which usually manifest as weight less than what is expected for the child’s age! So it is key we KNOW and MONITOR our children’s weight so we can identify when there is a problem early so we can seek early intervention and avoid diseases and deaths that come with malnutrition.
I’ll start with what is the ideal weight at birth then how the weight should progress and what the average weight of the child should be. I will allude briefly to what can make the weight to be less than expected or more than expected and what to do when we have any concerns about the weight of our children. AT BIRTH…..the WEIGHT normally ranges from 2.5kg to 4.0kg. Any weight below 2.5 is LOW BIRTH WEIGHT Any weight above 4.0kg is LARGE FOR AGE BIRTH WEIGHT or MACROSOMIC or BIG baby After birth, Babies FIRST LOSE WEIGHT in the first 10 days…..before regaining their birth weight by the 14 day! So it is not unusual or babies to lose weight first. Don’t panic Mum. This is as a result of losing fluids, inadequate feeds at the beginning and so on but as the feeding become established they regain their birth weight at 2 weeks. Babies begin to gain weight thereafter usually about 30g per day for term babies; 20g per day for preterm babies. That is roughly about 1kg per month for term babies and 600g per month for preterm babies. At this rate, babies DOUBLE their birth weights at 5 -6 months and TRIPLE their birth weights at 1 year! Remember we are talking AVERAGELY…….Some babies do gain a little more; others a little less……So You don’t have to worry as long as your baby’s weight falls into the 80% – 120% range of the average weight I mention; it is OKAY!!! So let us do a little maths……Average weight at birth is 3.5 kg…….at 5 months, doubling will mean weight of 7kg and triple of weight at 1 year will mean weight of 10kg. We have formula and charts of estimating the average weights of each baby….We also have online calculators you can use. Most Mums have Immunization cards and in this card is a WEIGHT CHART that is plotted each time your baby is weighed to know if your baby’s weight is increasing as expected. PLEASE ALWAYS INSIST YOUR BABIES ARE WEIGHED AND THE WEIGHT MEASURED AND CHARTED ON THE CHARTS !!! Unfortunately most of us mums see these cards as important for immunizations record only instead of weight or GROWTH MONITORING 1 YEAR…..AVERAGE WEIGHT IS 10KG2 YEARS ………… 12 KG3 YEARS …………. 14 KG4 YEARS………….. 16KG5 YEARS………….. 18KG6 YEARS …………..20KG
It is important to note that weight varies based on genetics, nationality, gender apart from the food intake.
You can use many online calculator to calculate your baby’s ideal weight. An example is found here
Just input your baby’s weight and gender.. it will bring out the ideal weight, remember weight within 80 – 120% of the ideal is STILL NORMAL!
IF YOU LIKE MATHS……The formula in the photo here is also greatAlternatively use the Growth Chart in your Immunization booklets or cards and trace out the weight on the vertical line that corresponds to your babies weight on the curve of 50th centile…which is the average weight for age of your baby. It is important to make sure your babies weight do not remain STATIC OR SAME….or WORSE DROP below what it was previously……those are very bad signs!!! IDEALLY YOU SHOULD WEIGH YOUR BABIES MONTHLY IN THE FIRST YEAR OR AT EVERY VISIT TO THE HEALTH FACILITIES! If your baby is NOT GAINING WEIGHT (ORANGE SIGNAL); PLEASE SEE your Paediatrician! If your baby is LOSING WEIGHT (RED SIGNAL) SEE A Paediatrician URGENTLY!!! If the weight is below 80% of the ideal or average….that is UNDERWEIGHT MALNUTRITION If the weight is BELOW 60% of expected/ideal that is MARASMUS – SEVERE MALNUTRITION If the weight is below 80% and the baby also has puffy eyes or legs (oedema) that is KWASHIOKOR If the weight is below 60% and baby is also puffy with swollen face, legs we call it MARASMIC-KWASHIOKOR! If you discover that your child has Malnutrition, please see your Paediatrician immediately. Children with malnutrition are usually at risk of severe illness and deaths…..
TAKE HOME POINTS to ensure your baby’s maintain ideal weight,
⦁ Ensure you yourself are well-nourished in pregnanc! Eat well and maintain good weight and take folic acid and have enough blood levels. This is to make sure you give birth to a baby who has a normal weight
⦁ Make sure you do attend antenatal care so you are well-taken care of during pregnancy and eat well when pregnant so your baby will have normal weight at delivery
⦁ When the baby is born, EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS……no water, no agbo, no formula, no pap….NOTHING but BREAST MILK ONLY!
⦁ From 6 months, INTRODUCE COMPLEMENTARY FOODS while you continue to BREASTFEED for as long as possible.
⦁ Progressively introduce family diet so that by age 2 year, baby is fully on family foods.
⦁ Deworm children after age 1 year every 6 months especially those living in rural endemic areas for worms.
⦁ Make sure you monitor your baby’s weight regularly and when you notice any negative signs, you should alert your doctor immediately.
A well-nourished baby is well-fortified to fight infections and diseases! is your baby maintaining the ideal body weight? If not, why not?