Learn how to monitor your baby’s growth and weight gain during the first year.
The first year of your child’s life is filled with rapid growth. It’s normal for new parents to wonder if their child is on target for developmental milestones. Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, closely monitoring their feeding habits can help you determine their progress.
During the first weeks of life your child should be feeding every two to three hours. Nursing mothers should estimate 15-20 minutes on the first side, and 20-30 minutes on the second, sometimes longer. Nursing mothers should focus their attention on how much time they’re spending nursing rather than just on the amount of milk they’re producing. The beginning stages are about building tolerance first.
Bottle-feeding parents should be giving their newborn roughly one more ounce of formula than their age in months. For example, a 1-month-old should be getting about two ounces per feeding about every three hours, a 2-month-old should receive about three ounces, and so on.
Adequate nutrition, whether that comes from formula or the breast, is best assessed by monitoring growth. Additionally, if your child’s bodily functions are occurring multiple times during the day, that’s a good indication your baby is hydrated and receiving the appropriate milk or formula supply.
From birth to 6 months, the typical baby will double their birth weight. From birth to 1 year, they will triple their birth weight. On average, the first three months of life will bring about an ounce of weight gain per day. Under normal circumstances, the weighing a baby receives during regular doctor visits will be enough to observe normal growth and gain.
Parents do not need to be weighing their baby every day because it will fluctuate daily. Weight gain happens in slow increments, and some days your child might not gain anything, then two days later they might gain a larger amount.
Your child will also add length as they add weight. Over the first six months, babies gain about an inch per month. Then, half an inch per month from 6 months to 12 months is expected. Again, your pediatrician’s growth chart will help you see how your child is progressing.
If your baby is happy, alert and sleeping well, then your child is likely growing properly. If at any point you feel that there might be something wrong, speak to your pediatrician.
Stan Spinner, M.D., Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care chief medical officer, has been practicing pediatrics in Houston for over 30 years. Spinner obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He then completed his residency at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital.