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Why does newborn weight gain matter?
Tracking your newborn's growth in height and weight over time gives your baby's doctor a good sense of your child's general health.
When a baby doesn't gain weight at a healthy rate, she may be diagnosed with a condition called failure to gain weight (or failure to thrive). This usually happens if she isn't eating well or isn't absorbing or using nutrients properly. It could be due to a feeding problem, a gastrointestinal issue, or some other medical condition.
Healthcare providers will keep a close eye on your baby's weight gain because good nutrition is crucial for your baby's mental and physical development.
While you're still in the hospital, a doctor or nurse will weigh your baby at birth and every 24 hours after birth. Your baby will be weighed again when you come in for your first doctor visits (usually in the first week after you leave the hospital and again when your baby is 10 to 14 days old) and at all your baby's well-child visits during the first year. These measurements are recorded on your baby's growth chart.
If your baby is having any health problems, including unexpected weight loss or jaundice, you may have to see the doctor more often in the first few weeks.
What is normal weight loss for a newborn in the first days after birth?
Most healthy, full-term babies lose between 5 and 10 percent of their birth weight in the first days after birth. Early weight loss happens because babies are born with extra fluid that gets eliminated after birth. This weight loss is normal and not a concern unless a baby loses more than 10 percent of his birth weight.
What is normal weight gain for a newborn in the first weeks after birth?
Babies usually start to gain weight again five to seven days after birth, and most should be back to (or above) their birth weight by about 2 weeks old. Although most babies follow this trend, about 10 percent of healthy newborns regain their birth weight more slowly over several weeks.
Many factors go into a baby's weight gain in those first weeks of life, including how fast your breast milk comes in and how much your baby wants to eat. For example, you may notice your baby wants to eat more often or for longer when she's between 7 and 10 days old. (When a baby wants to eat again soon after a full feeding, it's called "cluster feeding.")
How can I tell if my newborn is gaining enough weight?
Most parents don't have a scale suitable for weighing a baby at home, but luckily counting the number of your baby's dirty diapers is another good way to tell that your baby is doing fine:
- Wet diapers: In the first five days, your newborn may wet only a few diapers each day. After that, expect at least four, but as many as eight, wet diapers daily.
- Poopy diapers: In the first few days, some babies may poop only once daily. After that, expect your baby to poop at least twice a day. After the first week, your baby will likely poop 10 or more times daily until the end of the first month.
It's helpful to track diaper changes in a journal, on BabyCenter's printable baby care log, or with an app on your phone.
Find out more ways to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk or formula.
What can I do if my baby loses too much weight after birth or isn't gaining enough?
In general, it's a good idea to check in with the doctor if you notice that your baby isn't feeding well or wetting very many diapers. If you're worried about your baby's weight during the first weeks after birth, talk to your child's doctor about:
- Bringing in your baby regularly for weighing
- Specific advice about getting your baby to eat more
- When to call with concerns
If you want to track your baby's weight for your own peace of mind in between doctor's visits, many lactation and new parent support centers have baby scales and will allow you to stop by and weigh your baby any time.