Frequency of weighing the baby

How often should I weigh my baby?

Weighing a baby is one way to see whether the baby is getting enough milk and growing normally. Health-care providers will weigh babies at each regular visit. Health organizations have various recommendations about how children should be weighed. We believe that frequent visits and weighings are important to prevent and fix problems. To ensure breastfeeding is well-established, newborn babies should be checked and weighed on discharge from hospital and again within two days, at one week, and two weeks. Babies grow more slowly after the first few months, so frequent weighing becomes less useful. Breastfeeding should be reviewed at each visit. More frequent weighing may be useful if a health-care provider is concerned about a baby’s growth. 

A) Weighing normal babies

Your health-care providers will weigh your baby at each regular visit. Weighing a baby is one way to see whether the baby is getting enough milk and growing normally.

All babies should be weighed at birth. The Canadian Paediatric Society and the College of Family Physicians of Canada recommend that babies be weighed and examined (Li 2019):

  • Within 1 week of delivery, with an optional visit at 2 weeks of age.
  • At 1, 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 months of age, with optional visits at 9 and 15 months of age.
  • At 2 to 3 years and again at 4 to 5 years of age.

We believe that babies also need to be weighed and breastfeeding reviewed by a health-care provider at discharge from hospital and within two days after discharge. We also believe the two-week visit should not be optional.

The reason for these frequent visits is to identify and address feeding problems.

Other organizations are also recognizing the importance of early visits. The World Health Organization recommends that babies and mothers be seen at least (WHO 2013):

  • On Day 3.
  • Between days 7 and 14.
  • At six weeks after birth.

One study showed that daily weighing for the first two weeks after birth increased mothers confidence in breastfeeding (DiTomasso 2018).

B) Weighing babies with challenges

The rate of weight gain slows with age.

To collect more information on your baby’s progress, your health-care provider may also weigh your baby if the baby is:

The baby will also need to be weighed more often than the above recommendations in order to assess the baby’s status and to see how the baby responds to any interventions.

The poorer the baby’s growth, the more frequently the baby will need to be weighed.

If weight gain is a concern during the first two months, your baby may need to be weighed weekly, which provides a fairly accurate record of growth. A baby who has been very underweight may need to be weighed every few days until the baby starts gaining weight.

Babies gain more slowly after the first few months. For example, a baby who is born on the 50th percentile and continues to follow this percentile will gain about 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) between birth and one month. Between six and seven months, the same baby will only gain about 350 gm (12 oz). 

As a result, once the baby is more than two months, you may need to weigh your baby at 10-day intervals to get an accurate picture of how your baby is responding to any interventions. Once the baby is six months of age, two-week intervals may be more accurate. 

References

DiTomasso D, Roberts M, Cotton BP. Postpartum Mothers' Experiences With Newborn Weight Checks in the Home. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2018 Sep 14
 
Li P, Rourke L, Leduc D, et al. Rourke Baby Record 2017: Clinical update for preventive care of children up to 5 years of age. Can Fam Physician. 2019 Mar;65(3):183-191
 
World Health Organization (WHO). WHO recommendations on postnatal care of the mother and newborn. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2013 Oct