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Feeding - Healthy Weight Gain

Weight is an important indicator for the baby’s health

Dalal Alkhamees
Pediatric Dietitian
Ministry of Health, Al-Amiri Hospital

Physical Growth in Newborn Babies

Weight is an important indicator for the baby’s health. It is necessary to notice the baby growth (weight, length and head circumference), especially in the first few months.

The average infant birth weight is 3.5kg, while the normal birth weight ranges between 2.5kg to 4.5kg.

In general, the first baby is usually lighter than later siblings; boys are usually heavier than girls, and commonly large parents have large babies, as well as small parents having small babies.

Age Groups and Weight Changes
  • In the first 4 to 5 days after birth, babies usually lose around 0.2kg, but they regain it after 10 to 12 days of age.
  • In each day of the first month, it is typical that the baby gains 0.02g (20g) a day.
  • By the age 4-6 months old, the babies’ weight should be double their birth weight.
  • The growth is not rapid in the second half of the first year of the baby’s life. Between the ages 1-2 years old, toddlers will only gain 2.2 kg; and they will maintain the same gain per year between ages 2-5 years old.  
  • Between 2-10 years old, the child grows steadily; the final growth spurt begins at the puberty age, nearly by the age of 9-15 years old.

The average length of a full-term baby is 50cm, although the normal length range is 45.7cm to 60cm.

During the first 4 months after birth, the baby’s head will grow at a faster rate, and this is due to the rapid brain growth during this period.

What can Affect the Child Growth?

Providing good nutrition and variety of food is the first key to having a healthy growing baby. Calorie requirements are highly needed in both the infant age (under the age of 1 year old) and the adolescence age (10-18 years old). During these two periods, the body requires this high amount of energy in order to help the baby achieve normal growth and development.

Poor nutrition intake or excessive nutrition intake both can negatively affect the baby’s health and growth.

Babies with cleft lip or cleft palate are at risk of being underweight due to the poor nutrition intake. This situation can be managed by seeking a better way to feed the baby, and it can be either by breastfeeding or using special cleft lip baby bottles; or in rare difficult cases, through tube feeding. The Physicians, along with the Dietitians, can decide the route of nutrition that is suitable for the baby’s case.

Preterm babies are also at high risk of being underweight and having delayed growth, due to the immature organs. High-energy requirement is important especially in the first few months to help the baby reach the normal growth rate of other babies in his age.

Poor Feeding Vs. Good Feeding

Signs of Poor Feeding

  • The baby is losing weight instead of gaining it, and this does not include sick babies, because they usually lose few kilos due to poor feeding.
  • Nursing the baby in less than 8 times for every 24 hours, resulting in a crying baby.  
  • Changing few diapers throughout the day, less than 4-6 times per day.
  • Delay in speech and motor development can sometimes indicate poor nutrition consumption by the baby.
  • If the baby has frequent diarrhea, vomiting or constipation.

Signs of Good Feeding

  • Healthy weight gaining.
  • The baby is taking his requirements by feeding frequently every 2-3hours.
  • The baby feels comfortable, sleeps enough, and cries normally.
  • Normal baby urine and stool output, in terms of color and amount (4-6 times a day).

It is common in few parents to believe that the chubbier their baby is, the healthy he is, which is considered a false belief. Overweight or obesity during childhood is the main reason behind many chronic diseases when getting older, such as: diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, breathing problems, etc.

Methods of Measuring the Baby’s Anthropometrics

The best method that can be used to compare the child’s height and weight with the children of the same age group is by the growth chart. It is a tool used by the doctors’ or/and Dietitians to notice the flow of the child growth and whether there are any abnormalities. Growth charts are divided according to gender, age group, height or weight measurement. Children who have certain physical disabilities have a special growth chart to compare them with other children of the same case.  


  • It is very important to not compare your child with other children of the same age; as children are different from one another in terms of their weight, height, and head circumference and even in the weaning development period. This depends on many factors not necessary that your child is having growth-related or health-related problems.
  • Seek medical help whenever your child is having problems with feeding and growth.


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