Just as the rate of your baby’s growth in your womb provided valuable information during your pregnancy, the period immediately following birth also requires close monitoring of your baby’s weight. Many factors can influence your baby’s ability to gain weight after delivery. While most babies lose a little weight early in the postpartum period, continued weight loss can be dangerous.
While you are pregnant, your body supplies your baby with nutrients and fluids. After birth, you must either bottle-feed or breastfeed your baby to ensure he receives adequate nutrition. The Journal of the American Medical Association recommends feeding your baby on demand, allowing him to set the schedule for feeding. Newborns usually require feedings about every two or three hours during the first month. Each feeding shouldn’t last longer than 10 or 20 minutes.
Most full term babies weigh between 6 and 9 lb. at birth. Expect your newborn to lose a little weight in the days immediately following birth. The American Pregnancy Association advises that a 5 percent weight loss is normal for formula fed babies, while a 7 to 10 percent loss is average for breastfed infants. This weight loss is primarily water and usually occurs during the first 5 to 7 days following your baby’s birth.
Most newborns require between 100 and 120 calories per kilogram of weight per day, according to MedlinePlus. Sick infants can require up to 160 to 180 calories per kilogram of weight per day. One pound equals 0.454 kilograms. Premature babies may require additional nutrients such as protein, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, and D, and folic acid. While you may not know exactly how many calories your baby consumes, especially if you breastfeed, certain factors can provide valuable information regarding his diet.
Hospitals often weigh newborns regularly during their stay. After you and your baby leave the hospital, watch for certain signs that your baby is getting adequate amounts of fluid and nutrients. Within one week, your baby should have at least 5 to 6 wet diapers and 3 to 4 dirty diapers each day. Formula fed babies may have fewer dirty diapers than breastfed babies. Your baby should seem satisfied immediately after feedings and exhibit alertness periodically, rather than seeming sleepy all the time. If you feel your baby isn’t eating properly, or has trouble keeping food down, notify your doctor immediately.
While most babies regain their lost weight within 10 to 14 days after birth, premature or sick infants can take up to three weeks to reach their birth weights. After his initial weight loss, your baby may gain around 6 ounces each week for the first few months. Many babies double their birth weight by the age of 3 or 4 months.