Nutrition Parenting

Is your newborn losing weight? Don’t panic.

With a newborn comes many questions and concerns. Are they sleeping too much? How often should bath time happen? Are they eating enough? A common concern among parents is newborn weight gain. Newborns are prone to lose weight in the first week of life and then begin to gain weight, and it’s important to know how much fluctuation is normal and what’s not.

If you notice your newborn is losing weight during the first week, don’t be alarmed. It is normal for breastfed babies to lose more weight than formula-fed babies. “Losing up to 10 percent of birth weight in the first week is normal, said Dr. Brian Stansfield, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Augusta University and father of four. “Infants can be expected to lose about 1.5 ounces for every pound they weigh at birth.”

As new parents, it may be frightening to see your child lose weight in the first few days, but it should go back up soon. Babies are born with an abundance of water and they lose this water weight in the first days of life. Also, it takes time for mom to initiate feeding and for baby to consume enough to gain weight.

Babies born at full-term (38 to 40 weeks gestation) should regain the weight over the course of the second week of life. If you notice that your baby has not regained to birth weight within two weeks, follow up with your pediatrician. It’s important to make sure adequate nutrition is provided and your pediatrician can offer advice and options that are appropriate for your family. If a baby was born premature, it may take closer to three weeks to return to birth weight.

Many babies will double their birth weight within three to four months and triple their birth weight by the time they reach a year old. However, breastfed babies generally weigh less at one year than formula fed. In order to properly assess your child’s development, it’s important your pediatrician knows which feeding method you’re using.

Feeding patterns during infancy can have a significant impact on the child’s long-term health,” said Stansfield. “If you are able to breastfeed, I can’t stress the benefits enough. Breastfeeding and not smoking are the chief interventions that can foster appropriate growth for your baby.”

When it comes to feeding, the most important thing to follow is your baby’s cues. Pay attention to when your baby is eager to nurse and when they seem satisfied. Be sure to ask your health care provider for guidelines on expected intakes, but your baby’s cues tend to be the best way to gauge when they are hungry or full.

Remember, weight fluctuations are expected in the first weeks of life, so don’t get too caught up on the numbers. If you are concerned about your child’s weight loss or gain, be sure to let your pediatrician know.

The Children’s Hospital of Georgia has the largest team of general pediatricians, adolescent medicine physicians and pediatric specialists in the Augusta area. For more information about CHOG, please visit our website at augustahealth.org/chog or call 706-721-KIDS (5437).

About the author

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only facility in the area dedicated exclusively to children. It staffs the largest team of pediatric specialists in the region who deliver out- and in- patient care for everything from common childhood illnesses to life-threatening conditions like heart disorders, cancer and neurological diseases.

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