Normal Weight Standards in Babies and How to Encourage Weight Gain in Your Child
9 mins read
Physical development for New Born
Your little one's weight was measured the day he was born and is one of the most common protocols a doctor follows post-birth. This means that the weight of a baby is an important aspect of health and needs to be monitored constantly. So, is your baby meeting normal weight standards? What should you do if his weight gain is inadequate?
Keeping a close check on your baby's weight gain is an important measurement of growth. You can use a weight chart for this, which is designed to give one a general idea of the growth patterns that a baby at every stage should exhibit. While weight gain in babies can vary, here are some basic guidelines you can expect your baby to meet, and understand the indicators of a potential problem:
Guidelines for Normal Weight Gain in Babies
Probably one of the first questions people will ask you after you have a baby is whether you had a boy or a girl. Most likely the second question will be, "What was your baby's birth weight?" The concern is understandable, and also highlights how important the normal weight of a newborn baby is. One can tell a lot about the baby's health and predict their future well-being, from the baby's birth weight.
WATCH: Dr. Jyothi Raghuram Explains How Much Weight A Healthy Baby Should Gain
Standard Weight Gain Till 12 Months:
Every new mother is troubled by the question 'How much weight should a baby gain?'.The first 12 months of your baby's life are a period of great growth and great caution! It's to be noted that breastfed and formula-fed babies grow at about the same rate during the first 3 months, although breastfed babies tend to gain weight faster. From the 4th month onward, formula-fed babies tend to grow at a faster rate than their breastfed counterparts. Also, breastfed infants are generally leaner, consuming 20% less milk than formula-fed infants at this stage - and this is perfectly normal.
The table below shows length, weight and head circumference parameters in the 3rd to the 97th percentile.
Baby's Age in Months
Length (in cm)
Weight (in kg)
Head circumference (in cm)
46.3 - 53.4
2.5 - 4.3
32.1 - 36.9
51.1 - 58.4
3.4 - 5.7
35.1 - 39.5
54.7 - 62.2
4.4 - 7.0
36.9 - 41.3
57.6 - 65.3
5.1 - 7.9
38.3 - 42.7
60.0 - 67.8
5.6 - 8.6
39.4 - 43.9
61.9 - 69.9
6.1 - 9.2
40.3 - 44.8
63.6 - 71.6
6.4 - 9.7
41.0 - 45.6
65.1 - 73.2
6.7 - 10.2
41.7 - 46.3
66.5 - 74.7
7.0 - 10.5
42.2 - 46.9
67.7 - 76.2
7.2 - 10.9
42.6 - 47.4
69.0 - 77.6
7.5 - 11.2
43.0 - 47.8
70.2 - 78.9
7.4 - 11.5
43.4 - 48.2
71.3 - 80.2
7.8 - 11.8
43.6 - 48.5
Standard Birth Weight in Newborns:
On an average, normal weight of a newborn baby should be about 3.4 kgs (or 7.5 pounds) with a weight loss of about 200 grams (7 to 8 ounces) after the first few days of birth. This average is a baseline and it must be remembered that half of all babies will weigh less than this average while the other half will weigh more. Read this guide to get a more comprehensive picture of the ideal birth weight in Indian babies.
Average Baby Weight Gain in Breastfed Babies:
The average baby weight gain for a breastfed baby is greatly influenced by the frequency of feedings. Babies who are breastfed on demand and who enjoy unrestricted night nursing tend to grow faster than babies who are restricted to a breastfeeding schedule. This is due to the fact that a breastfeeding schedule introduces prolonged gaps between feedings, thereby reducing both the quantity of breast milk produced by the mother and its quality (specifically in terms of fat- and calorie-content), with every feed. Typically the weight of exclusively breastfed babies should get doubled by 4-5 months. By the time they are a year old, their weight should have increased by 2.5 to 3 times their birth-weight.
Average Baby Weight Gain in Formula-fed and/or Top-fed Babies:
Mothers who formula-feeding their babies need to exercise caution. It has been observed that formula babies gain weight faster than breastfed babies. They also continue to gain weight beyond 6 months of age (as compared to breastfed babies that tend to ‘slim down’ later). A lot of doctors recommend mothers suffering from low breast milk supply problem to top up their feeds with formula. In all these cases, there is considerable risk of overfeeding the baby. It is easier to nurse from a bottle than at a breast – this can cause a baby to feed long after his tummy is full, laying the foundation for a lifelong habit of overeating, and obesity. The weight gain pattern observed in healthy, full-term breastfeeding babies can thus be considered a golden standard, and formula-fed babies should be monitored for the same results. Do not feel like you are depriving your baby if you need to cut down on formula because his numbers are off the charts. While weight-gain is important, it has to be within certain limits!
Did You Know: Low Birth Weight in Babies Can Affect Their Mental Health in the Future
According to a recent study, researchers have found that babies with low birth weight tend to face issues in the future concerning their mental health. This is mainly due to the stress-triggered biological responses during infancy. These issues usually involve difficulties related to attention, anxiety-related and social related problems.
How to Boost Weight Gain in Your Baby
When it comes to maintaining or boosting healthy weight gain in babies, please remember that the difference in growth rates in formula fed and breastfed babies should not be a basis for any comparison. When it comes to your baby not gaining weight, this should not be the norm by which you evaluate the situation. A baby who is breastfed on demand and who graduates to other nutritious food once he starts a solid diet is a healthy baby. A baby who has been formula fed is also a healthy baby, regardless of what any growth pattern or popular opinion may say.
That said, boosting weight gain in your baby is mainly a matter of food! If your baby has been introduced to solid foods, and you have got a go-ahead from the paediatrician, it's time to up the quantity of the following foods in his diet. They have been proven to help baby gain weight faster and are also packed with nutrition!
Breastmilk, needless to say, is full of nutrients that will cause your baby to gain weight. But this can be substituted with regular milk or formula milk if the baby is older and the doctor has okayed this.
If your baby is above 6 months old then a puree of banana will help him pack on a few pounds. It's also a tasty food so there will be limited fuss!
Pear puree is a good weight-gain food for your baby. Try out this pear puree recipe at home to get started.
Peas are high in dietary fibre, thiamine, vitamin C and also in magnesium and niacin! It is a great food to introduce to a baby above 6 months in the form of a puree.
Yes, our very own Indian desi ghee is a great source of healthy fats for a growing child. And if you have any doubts about this at all, read what this mommy blogger has to say about why you must not deprive your child of ghee!
Oats are high in fibre and can be made into porridge for babies. They are well-liked by infants and also beneficial for their digestive systems.
Also known as finger millet, ragi is high in dietary fibre and can be introduced to your baby in the form of ragi kheer, porridge, idlis or laddoos. Here's a superb recipe for ragi kheer shared by one of our mommy chefs.
Health Problems in Low Birth Weight Babies
One might think that low birth weight is a minor problem and that with proper nourishment and care, it will be one that is elevated quickly and ceases to affect the child. However, several studies have demonstrated that low birth weight can have a long-lasting impact on a child’s overall development, including physical, mental and socio-emotional.
According to a recent review published in Psychological Bulletin, extremely low birth weight babies are more likely to develop mental health problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the early years of school, and anxiety and depression during adulthood. They also grow up to be shy, reserved and introverted individuals.
That’s not all though.
According to an Australian review-study, it has been established that parents of very low birth weight babies themselves are quite deeply impacted by their baby’s low birth weight too. The review states that fathers of very low birth weight babies experience a great deal of psychological distress during the first few months of their baby’s life.
... However, Here’s the Good News!
While the above problems may make the situation seem bleak, what every mother should bear in mind the findings of this study published in The Journal of Child psychology and Psychiatry: positive and sensitive parenting can help low birth weight babies cope and catch-up with their full-term peers in no time. This has been found to be especially true with respect to academic achievements of low birth weight babies.
Research is incessantly being carried out to come up with predictive risk factors for low birth weight in babies. In the interim, mothers should remember that: maternal nutrition during gestation, followed by newborn’s nutrition and care regime are the two most important things that can help tackle the problem of low birth weight. Explore the various reasons why your newborn is not gaining weight, and get to the root of the problem. While the effects may be long-lasting, remember that low birth weight is a completely preventable and curable problem.
Most babies and mothers are equipped with natural tendencies to grow healthy. But every infant will differ in his growth rate. Once again it should be remembered that weight charts are only there as a guideline to establish growth patterns in children. As a mom, it is natural to worry about diversions from the pattern. But if your doctor is happy and your baby seems healthy otherwise, trust that you are doing a great job; just keep mommying!
How much does your newborn weigh? What do you do to ensure his weight gain is balanced?