Normal Growth in the First Year
Friday, June 15, 2012
It is amazing how fast babies grow and develop in their first year. While some changes may be obvious, like you little one growing out of his or her newborn clothes, other less visible development is happening just below the surface.
Growth in the first year of life is just as much about brain development as body mass, and breast milk is the perfect food for brain growth. Your baby’s brain goes through a significant growth spurt from 30 weeks gestation until about one year of age.
No matter your baby’s birth weight, he or she needs to gain weight at the appropriate rate in the first year of life. Typically, babies will lose some weight during their hospital stay. This can be alarming for parents, especially those with premature or sick infants, but it is typical for most newborns. Babies born in hospitals will usually lose five to seven percent of birth weight in the first few days and could start to gain by about day three or four. If a baby is feeding well he or she will gain ½ to one ounce per day in the first few months. Your child’s pediatrician will monitor their growth at each well check to ensure normal development.
By about four months, growth rates tend to differ for bottle-fed and breastfed babies. Breastfed babies will usually double their birth weight between four and six months of age and triple it by one year. Bottle fed babies often gain more weight in the first week or two but don’t usually double their birth weight until closer to six months and again triple it by one year.
Try not to get upset if your baby is slow to gain weight. Colostrum and breast milk is small in quantity at first, but packed with everything that your baby needs for brain growth and digestive development. Smaller more frequent feedings are the best things for babies in their first few weeks of life.
Quite often, the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be challenging for new moms. But by about two weeks, milk supply has regulated to the baby’s intake and the feedings should run much more smoothly. Most first time mothers find breastfeeding much more enjoyable by the time their baby is three to four weeks old, so try to hang in there. No one can say that breastfeeding is easy, but it is more than worth the effort. You are giving your baby a special gift. Investing time in breastfeeding in the early weeks pays off with lifetime dividends for both you and your baby.
How long did it take you to adjust to the early challenges of breastfeeding your baby? Share your thoughts with other moms.