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Infant Weight Loss After Birth

by Kathy Gleason, studioD

Parents of newborns have so many things to worry about -- is the baby the right size? Sleeping and eating properly? Is she healthy? One of the things new parents often wonder about is weight loss after birth. If the baby was 8 pounds when he was born, why is he only 7 pounds 10 ounces when he leaves the hospital? Luckily, it's very normal for newborns to lose weight after birth, and he will likely be back to his starting weight very soon.

Causes of Infant Weight Loss

Newborns generally don't eat much in the first few days of life, as they are adjusting to their new environment and still have some stores of nutrients from their mother. According to research published in the International Breastfeeding Journal, another cause may be if the mother received IV fluids during labor, as the increased fluids can make the baby over-hydrated and give a somewhat inaccurate birth weight. Over the next few days, as the baby regulates his own fluids, she loses weight.

How Much Weight Loss Is Normal?

A newborn who is formula fed usually loses about 5 percent of his birth weight in the first few days of life, advises the American Pregnancy Association. For breastfed infants, this number is slightly higher. A breastfed newborn may lose 7 to 10 percent of her birth weight in the beginning days of life.

How to Tell If a Baby Is Getting Enough Nutrition

By the time a newborn is a week old, he should be having a fairly large number of diaper changes per day. On average, a newborn will have around five to seven wet diapers each day and will have a bowel movement three or four times a day. If your child is getting significantly more or less than this number, talk to his pediatrician.

Getting Back to Birth Weight

The American Pregnancy Association reports that most newborns will have gained enough weight to be back by their birth weight by 10 to 14 days old. It does vary, though, so don't panic if it takes your baby a bit longer. Newborns who are premature or sick at birth may take longer, even as long as three weeks.

Formula Versus Nursing

Breastfed babies sometimes gain weight slightly slower than formula fed babies, so when your child is checked out at the pediatrician, make sure to tell the doctor what feeding method you're using so the baby's growth can be assessed accurately. Always write down any questions you have to take with you to the doctor so you don't forget anything that you wanted to know.

About the Author

Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.

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