What is Healthy Infant Weight Gain

As a parent it is our main priority to ensure our kids are healthy. That entails encouraging healthy eating habits from early on and making sure your baby gets all the necessary nutrients needed for healthy development. This is a growing concern to instill healthy infant weight gain.

baby scale

You may be surprised to learn just how important a baby’s diet can impact their overall long-term health. Those rolls may be cute on a baby, but they’re not so cute on adults. There are ways you can help your little one to thrive from day one.

Obesity in Infants
There is a huge rise in the number of obese infants as well as young children globally. Statistics show it has shot up to 42 million in 2013 while it was just 32 million in 1990. That is a staggering amount and the majority of these children live in developing countries. If this trend is not broken, it is expected to increase up to 70 million obese infants as well as young children by 2025.

Underweight
While you may hear more about obesity as an issue rather than malnutrition, there is an alarming rate of children that are underweight. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributed to malnutrition. This translates into a loss of about 3 million young lives every year. Malnutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and contributes to delayed recovery.

What does percentile on Growth Charts mean?
During your visits to the pediatrician for your little ones’s shots and routine checkup, one of the terms you often come across is percentile. A percentile line on the growth chart of your child compares your child’s growth compared to the other kids of the same age. This is basically divided into two categories: percentile for weight and height. The closer your baby’s percentile is to 50, the closer he or she is to the average weight/height of babies of their age. However, this is just a number. Each baby is different and various factors like parents’ height and weight play an important role. As long as your baby is active and gaining weight at a steady rate without any alarming increase/decrease, your baby is healthy enough.

Feeding Guidelines for Various Stages in Infants

An important aspect in helping your baby reach and maintain an ideal weight is to know the frequency of feedings and what they should be getting at different stages. Here is a feeding guide that suggests the recommendations on a feeding schedule for newborns to toddlers.

Newborn to 0-4 months
mother-feeding-newborn-bottleFor a newborn, care should be taken to get all the essential vitamins, proteins and nutrients for a healthy development. Solid foods are out of bounds at this stage. This is because the digestive tract simply isn’t mature enough to handle solids just yet making it harder to digest and possibly cause discomfort to the baby. Breast milk or formula is all your baby needs up until at least 6 months to receive all of the essential vitamins and nutrients.

Feeding frequency – During the initial months it seems as though all your baby does is want to eat or sleep. This is because their tummies are small and they require more frequent feedings. While it is recommended that newborns eat every 2-3 hours, some babies will sleep up to 4 hours in between feedings. I’ve always been told don’t wake a sleeping baby.

It’s not necessary to feed your baby if they aren’t hungry or disrupt them if they are getting much needed sleep, which is also important for development. Formula-fed infants may go longer periods in between feedings than breast-fed babies. As long as your baby is getting in 6-8 feedings a day and putting out at least 6 wet/3 dirty diapers a day they should be getting enough nutrition. The average weight for a full-term healthy baby is between 13-15 pounds for boys and 11-14 pounds for girls by their third month.

At 4-6 months
mother-feeding-baby-food-to-babyAround 4 months your baby may be ready to start on solids. Keep in mind that their digestive tract is still a work in progress. Start with cereal then work towards pureed vegetables and fruits. Consult your pediatrician before starting on solids. It is normal if your baby shows less interest in new foods initially. At this stage, eating solids is just for fun to help babies transition to table food.

Feeding frequency – At this stage your baby should have a minimum of 28 oz. of breast milk or formula per day. In addition to this, introduce iron-fortified single grain cereal or 1 to 2 tbsps of pureed vegetables or fruits.

The expected average weight for a full-term healthy infant by their sixth month is between 16-18 pounds for boys and 14-17 pounds for girls.

6 to 8 months:
By 6 months, your little one should have gained double the amount of weight compared to their birth weight. This is a sign of healthy development. At this stage, you can slowly increase the amount of solid foods. Fruits and vegetables can be fed in pureed or strained form. Care should be taken if pureeing your own baby food to ensure that the food is mashed well for easy digestion.

Feeding Frequency – You will notice that the frequency in feeding breast milk or formula is reduced as you help your baby prepare for eating more solids. You can increase the quantity of pureed vegetables from 1 Tbsp. to between 2-4 ounces. You can feed this two or three times a day.

By the time most healthy full-term babies reach 9 months, the average weight recommendation for boys is between 18-21 pounds and for girls it’s 16 -19 pounds.

9 to 12 months:
Your little one is growing up fast. Their daily feeding habits should reflect their growth to keep them active. Their daily meal should include a small amount of protein such as tofu or cottage cheese, iron-fortified cereal or half cup of fruits or vegetables. You can also introduce meat or eggs, which acts as a source of protein also.

baby-boy-eating-healthy-food

Feeding frequency – By now, the amount of breast milk or formula intake of your baby should be 30 to 32 Oz a day. Besides this, their meal can be comprised of 4 to 8 tbsps of cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, 4 ounces of mashed or strained fruits, vegetables or meats fed 2 to 3 times a day. This is the right age to introduce finger foods such as small pieces of soft fruits and vegetables as well.

The average weight for a healthy full-term 12 month old baby boy is 19-22 pounds and for a girl it is between 18-21 pounds.

1 to 2 years old:
funny-curly-baby-weight-scaleYour baby has turned one! Some babies might have started walking by now. This calls for increasing the quantity of the meals and the variety of foods. You can start giving them cow’s milk and honey. The diet should include a combination of foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy etc.

Feeding Frequency – If your baby is still breastfed that’s great. You might want to introduce whole milk or yogurt as per their liking. In addition, your kid’s diet should include a good combination of oatmeal, vegetables, bean, fruits and meats across different meals of the day.

The average weight for healthy full-term children by the age of 24 months is typically between 24 – 28 pounds for boys and 23-27 pounds for girls.

Keeping little ones healthy is an important responsibility that all parents must face. With the help of this guide, plan your kid’s meal to provide the essential nutrients, vitamins and proteins for healthy infant weight gain and development.

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