Monday, December 18

Growth And Your Newborn

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When there is a newborn in the home, family members can’t wait ‘til they’re big enough to crawl, walk and play with. But how fast does a newborn grow? 

When babies are born, they come with some extra fluid. This is why it is perfectly normal for a newborn to lose a few ounces in the first few days of his or her life. A healthy newborn is expected to lose 7 to 10 percent of their birth weight, but should gain all that weight back about two weeks after birth.

During a newborn’s fist month, he or she continues to gain weight at a rate of about 5 ounces (141 grams) per week. Generally, a newborn baby grows in height about 1.5 inches (2.54 to 3.81 centimeters) during the first month. Many newborn babies go through a bit of a growth spurt when they are 7 to 10 days old, and again when they are 3 to 6 weeks old. 

Cause for concern

Because a new born is so tiny, it is difficult to tell if he or she is gaining weight the way he or she should. Another cause for concern is if you baby has lost so much weight in the first few days or isn’t taking enough breast milk or formula. It is likely that your baby is perfectly healthy. But to ease your minds, have your baby checked by his or her pediatrician. 

Growth and premature babies

Premature babies are often smaller and lighter than full-term babies. A premature baby’s weight will be largely affected by how early he or she was born. This is because the time an infant missed in the womb is time for growing, and he or she will make up for the lost time in the womb by growing outside of it. 

Many premature babies are classified as having “love birth weight” or “very low birth weight.” In medical terms, “low birth weight” means weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,360 grams) at birth; while “very low birth weight” means weighing less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces (1,587 grams). In the United States, one in every 13 babies is classified as having “low birth weight.”

Premature babies are given special medical attention immediately after birth. A neonatologist – a pediatric specialist – may be needed in their care. Premature babies also spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where they receive medical care, including feeding and observation of growth. 

What’s next?

Being born big or small does not determine a baby’s size during childhood or later on as an adult. Many small newborns grow up to become towering adults. Similarly, many big babies grow up to become cutesy adults. 

By the time a baby reaches adulthood, he or she tends to resemble his or her parents in size. Genetics, as well as proper nutrition and your attention, will play a crucial role in determining how a baby grows in the future.

But whether your baby was born big or small, or somewhere in between, expect him or her to grow a lot in the next few months. 

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