Link Copied

A link has been copied to your clipboard!

Your Baby’s Growth: Newborn to Toddler

Feb 23, 2022 | 3 Minutes Read

One of the signs your baby is in good health is their growth. How your baby grows, both in height and weight, are important indicators of overall health. That’s why when your baby is young, they are weighed quite often. Poor growth can sometimes be one of the signs your baby is sick. Poor nourishment has implications for future health. But a healthy weight gain is a good sign: a baby who is growing well is probably healthy.

Later, because babies’ and toddlers’ growth tend to slow down, frequent weighing like they did early on isn’t needed. However, weight and height are usually taken each time you bring your child for well-baby or other doctor or nurse practitioner visits.

The average full term baby weighs 7.5 pounds. Around 95% of babies weigh between 5.5 pounds and 9.5 pounds. Many healthy babies weigh less or more than this without there being a problem.

Babies often lose weight in the first days after birth, with 7% to 10% being considered normal, and a bit more if baby was born by Cesarean surgery. You can expect your baby to regain their birthweight by about 2 weeks.

Babies gain weight irregularly. This is especially the case with breastfed babies. Over time, the weight gain will probably average out to something like 5 to 7 ounces a week, usually slowing after the age of 3 months, and slowing again after 6 months. Of course, there will be times when your baby will have rapid growth spurts and put on more weight than usual.

Your newborn baby: growth issues

It’s often in the early weeks and months that there’s more concern about your baby’s weight. This is understandable. Poor growth can be a sign of poor feeding or your baby may be ill. If your baby is not growing well, talk to your healthcare provider or lactation consultant about feeding. Breastfed babies need to be positioned correctly at the breast to ensure their latch is effective. With a good latch and frequent feedings you will make more milk for them. A bottle-fed baby may grow better if he’s offered smaller meals more frequently.

You may be asked other questions about your baby’s behavior and development. A very sleepy baby who doesn’t seem interested in feeding may need to be awakened and encouraged to feed.

Consistent poor weight gain might mean your baby needs to be checked for underlying illness or conditions.

Some babies do take a while to start gaining weight – in the majority of cases it’s not a serious issue. But it shouldn’t be ignored.

Your growing baby: growth issues

In babies more than 3 months old, the rate at which they grow often slows down. It’s also common for babies to slow down at around 5 to 6 months, when they typically start solid foods. Your baby’s first foods are often lower in calories than breastmilk or formula milk. A meal of pureed carrots and rice may seem to fill your baby, but they won’t have taken in as many calories as they would have if they had a bottle or breastfed.

If you’re concerned about your baby’s weight, talk to your healthcare provider before making changes to their diet and whether you need to do anything differently.

Your toddler: growth issues

Toddlers can develop food fads and fussiness. And as growth naturally slows down in the second year, weight can sometimes appear as if it’s poor. How do you know when to worry?

Ask your pediatric provider to take weight and height measurements and compare them with previous figures. They probably have recorded these trends already on a growth chart in your baby’s records.

If your baby’s healthcare provider thinks there’s an issue you’ll be asked:
  • About your toddler’s appetite. Are they eating well and have a good selection of different foods?
  • About your toddler’s health. Have they recently been ill? Growth can tend to slow before during and after an illness.
  • What your family’s general growth patterns and sizes are, as growth patterns tend to run in families.
If there’s any concern, the health care provider will want to make sure your child is measured again after a few weeks or months and possibly do some further tests.

Frequently asked questions 

I’ve been told my toddler should drink less milk so they can grow better. They have about 3 bottles a day. Is that true?

Milk is a needed food and drink, but if toddlers drink too much, it leaves less room for other foods. Toddlers that love milk often drink large volumes and it’s easy to do, especially if still using a bottle.

Transition away from the bottle to a sippy cup and cut down on the milk. Have more solids, especially high calorie ones like wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. Too much milk can mean your toddler misses out on other nutrients, like iron.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.