Your baby's growth

What Affects My Baby's Growth?

Your baby's growth rate depends, in part, on his physical condition and metabolism, and partly on his dietary routines, his environment, and his general health. (Piwoz et al 2012) All of these factors can affect its growth:

  • Feeding provides your baby with the calories it needs to grow. By the time he is six months old, his entire diet will consist of breast milk or milk formula. How fast your baby grows is influenced by how often and how long these feeds last (NICE 2008, RCH 2013).
  • Maternal Health During Pregnancy can affect the amount of nutrients the baby is born with. The diet, whether the mother smokes or not, and how much weight she has gained during pregnancy - all this can determine the growth in the first year of the baby (Piwoz et al 2012, RCH 2013).
  • The birth weight of your baby may show how well it has been treated by the placenta during pregnancy. Some mothers fear that their babies, who were rather small at birth, are also growing slowly. In fact, low birth weight babies usually grow at an above-average rate, while high birthweight babies grow more slowly. This phenomenon is called ""catching up"" or ""catching up"" growth (Marchand 2012, NCT 2010, RCH 2013).
  • The genes also play a role. If mother and father are well-built, it is likely that the baby is also at the top in size and weight. If you're slim, the baby could follow in your footsteps and be lighter than the average (Griffiths et al 2007).
  • Mild Illnesses such as colds and ear infections can have a temporary effect on your baby's growth. If it does not feel good, it may not be fed and will therefore grow slowly for a week or two (ABA nd, Piwoz et al 2012, RCPCH 2009). As soon as it feels better, its growth rate will also return to normal (DH 2009a, RCPCH 2009).
  • The health of the mother may affect baby's growth even after birth . If the mother feels unwell or has postpartum depression, it can lead to symptoms that make it difficult for her to take care of the baby. Even then, the baby may grow below average. However, this effect is not permanent and will disappear as soon as the mother feels better again (NHMRC 2012).

How is my baby's growth measured?

During your routine check-ups, your GP, pediatrician or nurse will use a special scale and tape measure to check:

  • your baby's body length
  • his head circumference
  • his weight

The measurements are recorded on a growth chart in the yellow booklet. This will give you and the doctor a quick and easy way to monitor growth. In the growth chart, you can see what percentile your baby belongs to, how it has grown in proportion to other children's average.

Between checkups, you could also take your baby to the local hospital for weighing. You can also buy home scales, but they are never as accurate as the medical scales your doctor uses and are not a substitute for regular checks by the doctor. But since the intended examinations at the pediatrician are sufficient, it is not really necessary to weigh your child in between.

Frequent weighing might also worry you unnecessarily. Your baby's weight will fluctuate from week to week, and seeing all these variations will not give you a true picture of your growth, but rather make you nervous (ABA nd, Healthtalk Online 2013).

Especially at the beginning you might pay attention to the weight of your child. But: The growth charts are not a health test for your baby (Healthtalk Online 2013). All babies grow at different rates and a second-percentile baby can be just as healthy and active as one in the 98th.

What will my baby's growth be like in the first few weeks?

Your baby will lose weight in the first few days after birth. This is because it first has to get used to life outside of your uterus (uterus). Babies usually lose five to ten percent of their birth weight in the first week (ABA nd, NCT 2010, RCPCH 2009).

It can feel disconcerting to see your baby's weight drop. Try to stay calm. This process is quite normal and as soon as your baby is fed regularly, it will also begin to gain weight.

Your doctor or midwife will monitor your baby's weight loss and can calm you down when you are worried or anxious. Babies usually regain their birth weight at two weeks. Most babies in the first three months about 150 grams per week and then 100 grams. Please keep in mind that these are averages and every baby is different (DH 2009a).

It's quite normal that your baby has periods of slow growth and then goes back to short sprints where it grows faster. So do not worry if growth seems to vary from week to week.

My baby is a premature baby.Will that affect his growth?

Premature babies have a different pattern of growth than babies who are born after a full pregnancy. Some premature babies also have health issues that affect their growth.

If your baby was born before week 38, his or her growth will be followed up on a special premature birth chart two weeks after his or her expected date of birth.

Next, your baby's weight is monitored on a normal chart. His adjusted age is used, d. H. the age it would have if it had been born on a regular date. So, if your baby was born at 32 weeks and weighed 12 weeks later, it is rated on the chart as if it were 4 weeks old (DH 2009b, RCPCH 2009).

Do breastfed babies and those who get milk food grow at the same speed?

Breastfed babies can grow faster than those who are fed milk, but only until they are three months old. Overall, the babies who grow the formula get faster (CPS 2010). This is mainly true for the weight, less for body length and head circumference.

At six months, the difference between breastfed babies and those receiving bottled food is greatest (Li et al 2012, Socha et al 2011). Around the first birthday, vial babies are on average 500 grams heavier than babies who are breast-fed (NCT 2010, RCH 2013).

My baby just seems to grow slowly. Something wrong?

If your baby is active and likes to eat, and his weight is about the same as his body length, then you should not worry too much. Its growth rate may be just right for it.

If you are worried, ask your pediatrician for advice or take your baby to the hospital where you can weigh your baby and give help and reinsurance (DH 2009b).

Do not try to compare your baby's growth to the growth of your friends' babies, even if it's easier said than done. Focus on your overall health and not on which percentile it falls.

You can see that your baby is growing well by watching the following signals:

  • It's active and has phases of being alert and calm.
  • It ""asks"" for food and picks it up well.
  • It looks happy after feeding.
  • It has a healthy skin color.
  • It has, after being five days old, at least six wet diapers a day (ABA nd, Healthtalk Online 2013).
  • His weight fits his length.
  • It reaches its development milestones.

If the charts show that your baby is growing very slowly or losing weight, your doctor may ask you about feeding habits and general health. He / she wants to make sure that there is nothing that keeps your baby from gaining weight (RCPCH 2009).

Babies who grow slowly are diagnosed with ""failure to thrive"". That sounds alarming, but does not necessarily mean that something is wrong with your child. Most babies, who grow slowly in their first year, catch up later and are not underweight as teenagers (ud Din et al 2013).

If you are breast-feeding and worried that your baby is growing slowly, you should check that it is set up correctly and both breasts are offered at each meal. Breastfeed as soon as your baby seems hungry and allow him to drink as long as he wants. Your midwife can give you help and support.

When you give the vial, pay particular attention to the preparation of the food. If you use too much water, your baby may not get enough nutrients (Crawley and Westland 2013). With too little water, the fluid intake of your baby suffers.


ABA. nd. Baby weight gains. Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Crawley H, Westland p. 2013. Infant milks in the UK: A practical guide for health professionals. London: First Steps Nutrition Trust.

DoH. 2009a. Birth to five. Department of Health

DoH. 2009b Using the new UK-World Health Organization 0-4 years growth charts. Department of Health.

Griffiths JL, Dezateux C, Cole TJ. 2007. Differential parental weight and height contributions to offspring birthweight and weight gain in infancy. Int J Epidemiol 36: 1: 104-7

Healthtalk Online. 2013. Breastfeeding: monitoring baby's growth.

Li R, Magadia J, Fein SB, et al. 2012. Risk of bottle-feeding for rapid weight gain during the first year of life. Arch Pediatr Adolesc 166 (5): 431-6

Marchand V. 2012. The toddler who is falling off the growth chart. Canadian Pediatric Society, Nutrition and Gastroenterology Committee.

NCT. 2010. How can I tell if my baby's thriving? NCT Information Sheet. National Childbirth Trust.

NHMRC. 2012. Infant Feeding Guidelines . Information for health workers. Commonwealth of Australia. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

NICE. 2008. Improving the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children in low-income households . National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, Public health guidance, 11.

Piwoz E, Sundberg S, Rooke J. 2012. Promoting healthy growth: what are the priorities for research and action? American Society for Nutrition. Adv Nutr 3: 234-241

RCH. 2013. Child growth and growth charts in the early years . The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne

RCPCH. 2009. Understanding growth charts: What they tell you about your child's growth. UK-WHO Growth Charts. Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health

Socha P, Grote V, Gruszfeld D, et al. 2011. Milk protein intake, the metabolic-endocrine response, and growth in infancy: data from a randomized clinical trial. At J Clin Nutr 94 (suppl): 1776S-84S

and Din Z, Emmett, P, Steer C, et al. 2013. Growth Outcomes of Weight Faltering at Infancy in ALSPAC. Pediatrics 131 (3), e843-e849

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