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Baby Weight worries

Weighing your baby is important but it is only one way of knowing how well your baby is feeding.

How do I know my baby’s weight is OK in the first 2 weeks?

Weighing in the early days is important. Babies usually lose some weight to start with but then put it back on, this helps to show that your baby is healthy and that breastfeeding is going well.

In Greenwich, your baby will be weighed at birth and in the first week, usually at 5-6 days, by the midwife and at 10-14 days by the health visitor. They should use digital electronic scales as spring balance scales are not accurate. At the same time the midwife or health visitor will check your baby is well and ask you about how feeding is going. Your baby’s weight and progress will be recorded in the ‘red book’, which also has useful information for you to read about weighing, growth and development.

If your baby loses quite a lot of weight or is slow to get back to their birth weight, this is a sign to look a little closer. If the weight loss seems a lot, your midwife or health visitor will calculate this as a percentage. If your baby has lost 10% or more of their birth weight, she will help you to make sure the baby is attaching to the breast properly. She may suggest some changes to the way you hold your baby, or that you feed more often. Your midwife or health visitor may also suggest that your baby has a medical examination.

Your midwife or health visitor will weigh them again to follow their progress. It is a good idea to visit a breastfeeding group for extra support and advice. Many mothers feel under pressure to give formula milk at this time, but help with breastfeeding and talking to other breastfeeding mothers usually makes all the difference.

How often should my baby be weighed?

In Greenwich, your baby can be weighed when you visit a breastfeeding group or a child health clinic. Once breastfeeding is established, your baby does not need to be weighed every week if your baby is healthy, happy and feeding well. Many mothers like to have their babies weighed more often than this. However, this is not always helpful, and can cause unnecessary worry. For example, if one week your baby was weighed just after a big feed but the next week they were weighed after a big nap and before a feed, this could make it look as if they had not gained weight. So if you do weigh more often remember your baby will not always gain the same amount each week and that older babies grow much more slowly.

Weighing is important but only one way of knowing how well your baby is feeding.

Weights measured over a longer time are more likely to show the true weight change. This is why it is recommended that babies should not be weighed more often than once a month from 2 weeks to 6 months of age, no more than every 2 months up to 1 year of age, and no more than every 3 months after that, unless there are special reasons. The time between weighing is longer for older babies because they are growing less quickly.

Your health visitor may suggest that your child is weighed more often than this if there are concerns about their health or growth.

The most valuable part of going to the breastfeeding group or clinic every week or as often as you need is the chance to get support or information and to get out and meet other parents.

If you are not sure about how well your baby is feeding or growing look also at the other sections in ‘I’m a mum’, click on the leaflet below, visit a breastfeeding group, call your midwife or health visitor team, or one of the national telephone helplines.

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