Why do babies lose weight after birth? Learn the answer and other relevant information about your child's height and weight here.
What can you read in this article?
- How to know if your child is the right size for his age?
- Why do babies lose weight after birth?
- How can parents help their child get to their ideal weight and size
A lot of parents are concerned about their child's size, in particular, their child's height and weight. If you too are wondering if your child is the right size for their age, we're here to address some of your concerns.
Here are some answers to the common questions surrounding weight and height in babies and kids.
Is your child of the right size? What parents should know
How can parents tell if their child is of the right height and weight? Is there a difference between boys and girls?
To gauge if your child is of the right size, a starting point is to check the growth charts published by the World Health Organization (WHO). As long as a child stays within the growth curve, he or she is fine. But if the weight drops too much or is way off the charts, it is advised to seek professional help.
A healthy range is for a child to grow four to six centimeters a year. You can monitor this growth at home. In some preschools, the teachers track height growth once every quarter and do close monitoring of a child’s eating habits.
Generally, there is not much of a difference in growth rate between boys and girls until puberty starts at around the age of 10. Children usually remain in the same growth percentile over the years which is an indication of normal individual growth rate.
What factors determine height and weight in a child?
Height growth is determined by genetic potential and weight gain is highly correlated to lifestyle patterns. The body mass index (BMI) is a good indicator to assess growth over a period of time.
Why do babies lose weight after birth?
It is expected for a newborn to lose weight during the first 5-7 days after birth. It is called physiological weight loss. Why? Because while your baby was in your womb, you are giving her the calories and nutrients she needs like clockwork through the umbilical cord.
But when she's finally out in the real world, she needs to work a little to get the milk. Newborns have to learn how to properly latch on their mother's breasts or suck on their bottles to receive the nutrients that they need. Another reason might also be because of their mother's low milk supply during the first week after birth.
According to the Americal Pregnancy Organization, 5 percent weight loss is considered normal for a formula-fed newborn while breastfed babies can lose 7 to 10 percent of their birth weight. But not to worry, because most babies regain the pounds that were lost within 10 to 14 days.
Why is my baby not gaining weight?
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According to Dr. Catherine Sinclair of Primary Care Pediatrics, there are three reasons why babies do not gain weight: they are not taking in enough calories, they are not absorbing calories or they are burning too many calories.
Full-term newborn infants should consume about 1-5 to 2 ounces of breastmilk or formula milk about every 3 hours, while premature babies need more calories to catch up.
There's also the issue of spit-ups, vomiting, and acid reflux, which may affect while your baby is not taking in enough calories as she should be. Some babies do get enough calories but still have trouble gaining weight. Some intestinal issues like celiac disease can be a possible reason for this.
Full-term newborn infants should take in about 1.5 to 2 ounces of breast milk or formula about every 3 hours. Premature infants need more calories than term babies. Some babies are difficult to feed, have reflux or vomiting with feeds, have trouble staying awake for feeds, or have trouble swallowing.
Finally, some babies who are not thriving use calories very quickly because they have an increased need for them. This includes children who have respiratory diseases and need to work harder to breathe, were born early, or have certain heart abnormalities.
It's important to work hand in hand with your baby's pediatrician to solve the issue of your baby not gaining weight.
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Weighing in on the topic
If a child is underweight, what can parents do?
If your child’s weight is found to be below the normal range, it's best to bring him to the pediatrician for further evaluation. Your child's doctor may recommend you to see a nutritionist for professional consultation on ways to improve weight gain. You'll be advised on a plan that incorporates food and perhaps exercises or physical activities to help your child.
If a child is overweight, what can parents do?
The first step is to observe if the child is overeating and to pinpoint the reason. Some possible reasons include:
- Too much hunger: Erratic mealtimes can lead to the build-up of hunger which leads to food-seeking behavior and overeating.
- Emotions management: When a child is soothed with food, she learns to comfort herself with food over time as a comfort mechanism.
- Overly restricted food environment: Children whose food choices are tightly controlled tend to develop food-seeking behavior and overeat when the adults are not around to monitor.
A tip is to give a small portion for the first serving and when a child asks for more, top up with more food, but only once. Monitor the overall food intake to prevent overeating.
If your child goes to school, try to pack only the right amount of food for his allotted time in school. Also, go for nutrient-dense foods over those that are high in sugar and fat.
The height of the matter
If a child is too short for their age, should parents be worried? How can they help their child grow taller (if this is possible)?
First of all, it is important to first find out the root cause. Given that height growth is influenced by various factors including genetics and nutrition, it is not accurate to peg a child’s growth by comparing him/her with peers of the same age.
Parents are encouraged to track a child’s growth once every quarter and monitor his/her eating habits closely. A healthy range is for a child to grow 4cm to 6cm a year.
A child diagnosed with growth hormones deficiency can be treated with artificial human growth hormones administered by medical professionals. However, growth hormones therapy is highly controversial as it does not work for everyone.
In addition to the high cost, growth hormones therapy comes with short-term side effects including water retention, leg swelling, and headaches. It can also increase the risks of scoliosis and diabetes.
Are vitamin supplements for kids formulated to increase weight and height, safe? Are they effective?
Vitamin supplements are not necessary for children who get a balanced diet on a day-to-day basis. For children who are picky eaters, have a severe allergy or are on a special diet such as a vegetarian diet may need vitamins supplements to supply adequate daily required nutrient intake to supplement their restricted diet.
Ultimately, foods are the best source of nutrients. A balanced diet with a variety of fresh, wholesome, and unprocessed food consists of all essential food groups: whole grains, lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, which can provide all the required nutrients for children. Encourage good eating habits in children at a young age.
But should you decide to give vitamin supplements a try, it is best to buy from authorized distributors who comply with the guidelines for health supplements set out by the authorities like the Department of Health of Food and Drug Administration.
When taking vitamin supplements, it is key to adhere to the recommended dosage to prevent overdose as different vitamins have different toxicity levels.
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How can kids reach their optimum height and ideal weight in a safe, natural way?
According to Joan Kua, a nutritionist from Kinderland Singapore, here are three simple tips to boost your child’s growth naturally:
- Sleep: Adequate sleep is needed for the growth hormones to develop and recharge. As a rule of thumb, children between the age of 3 to 5 should clock 11 to 13 hours of sleep. Children between the age of 5 to 10 will require 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night.
- Nutrition: Getting the right nutrition can maximize your child’s ability to grow. A well-balanced diet includes a sufficient amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals. These can be obtained through meat, fruits, and vegetables.
- Exercise: Physical activities contribute to a child’s growth and development. Sports and exercises stimulate muscle development and stronger bones whilst fighting obesity.
Tips to eat well
It is important for us parents to know how to assess our child’s growth so that we can detect obesity or undernutrition earlier. Additionally, we also need to be conscious that genetics play a role in a child’s physique.
Most importantly, more attention should be given to the proper food intake (nutrition) and good lifestyle habits (physically active and adequate sleep) of children. A combination of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle will help our children to grow better and healthier.
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore.
- Start the day right with breakfast: It is important to form the habit of eating a good breakfast from a young age.
- Healthy snacks: It is inevitable that children may feel like nibbling at some point in time. To prevent them from snacking on foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients, parents can opt for healthier options such as baked nuts and unsweetened yogurt.
- Drinking more water: Sugary drinks should be kept to a minimum. Parents should help their children to form a habit of making water the drink of choice and this is easier to accomplish from a young age.
- Eating slowly: A child takes an average of 20 minutes for them to feel full. During this time, they need to learn to slow down and chew their food properly. Eating slowly is a good tip to control weight.
Additional information by Camille Eusebio
Nationwide Childrens Org, American Pregnancy Organization
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