Breastfeeding and Your Baby's Growth

Lenght, Weight, and Growth Spurts: What's Normal and Average?

Baby sitting on a scale. The Average Height and Weight of a Breastfed Baby
How much should your baby weigh at one month, six months, and one year?. Kidstock/Getty Images

Infant Growth: What's Normal?

Like many parents, you might be wondering if your baby is growing normally. However, despite the temptation, it's not recommended to compare your child's growth and development to other children. Every child is an individual and grows at his or her own pace. Some children are bigger and some are smaller. There's definitely a range of normal growth. Here are some of the averages for weight and length during the first year.

Growth Charts

Growth charts and percentiles are just tools that help track the growth of children over time. The 50th percentile doesn't mean normal; it means average. If your child is not in the 50th percentile, it certainly doesn't mean that he or she is not growing at a healthy rate. Many factors contribute to your baby's height and weight, including genetics, diet, and activity level. Normal, healthy babies are in the 5th percentile as well as the 95th percentile.

Average Weight of a Baby from Birth to One Year

During the first few days of life, it's normal for both breastfed and bottle-fed babies to lose weight. A bottle-fed baby may lose up to 5% or his body weight, and an exclusively breastfed newborn can lose up to 10% of his or her body weight. But, within two weeks, most newborns regain the weight they have lost and return to their birth weight.

By one month, most infants will gain about a pound over their birth weight.

At this age, infants are not as sleepy, they begin developing a regular feeding pattern, and they have a stronger suck during feedings.

On average, infants gain about one pound each month until they are 6 months old. Most babies double their birth weight by 5 months of age and triple their birth weight by the time they're 1 year old.

The average weight of a 6-month-old is about 16 pounds (7.3 kg), and the average weight of a 1-year-old is approximately 21½ pounds (9.8 kg). Boys may be bigger than girls, and breastfed infants may weigh less than formula-fed infants.

Average Height (Length) of a Baby During the First Year

In general, during the first six months, a baby grows about one inch per month. Between 6 months and 1 year, it slows down a bit to about a ½ inch per month. The average height of a child at 6 months is approximately 25 ½ inches (65 cm), and the average height of 1 year old is around 29 inches (74 cm).

Weight Loss and Excessive Weight Gain In Babies

As mentioned above, it's normal for a baby to lose weight during the first few days of life. But, after that period, weight loss or poor weight gain in a child is a sign of a problem. For breastfed babies, it could be mean that the baby is not getting enough breast milk.

When it comes to weight gain, breastfed babies are less likely than formula-fed infants to gain too much weight too quickly.

Breastfeeding may even help to prevent excessive weight gain and obesity. But, breastfed babies can gain too much if a mother has an overabundant supply of breast milk, the child spends too much time nursing or starts solid foods early.

Well-Child Health Care Visits

The best way to feel confident that your child is gaining weight and growing healthy and strong is to take her for her well-child visits. After you have your baby, you should receive instructions for follow-up care for both you and your child. If you don't, then ask.

You'll probably bring your baby to the doctor or clinic for the first time within a week of your baby's birth, and then at regular intervals after that. Your child's healthcare provider will weigh and measure your baby, and keep track of your child's growth and overall health over time. This way, if there are any issues or concerns, they can be noticed and taken care of right away.  

What Are Growth Spurts?

Infants don't grow at a consistent rate. They have times when they grow slowly and times when they shoot up all of a sudden. When they have a big surge of growth in a short amount of time, it's called a "growth spurt." Growth spurts can happen at any time, and they don't necessarily follow a pattern. Some of the common ages that your child may experience a growth spurt are at 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.

Breastfeeding and Growth Spurts

During and after a growth spurt, your baby will need more breast milk. Since breast milk is made based on supply and demand, your baby will breastfeed much more often during these times. You may need to breastfeed your baby as much as every one to two hours. This increase in breastfeeding tells your body to make more milk. Luckily, these frequent feedings only last about a day or two as your milk supply adjusts to your growing baby's needs. After that, your child should settle back down into a more regular feeding routine.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2011). New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2010). Your Baby's First Year Third Edition. Bantam Books. New York.

De Onis, M. (2006). WHO child growth standards: length/height-for-age, weight-for-age, weight-for-length, weight-for-height and body mass index-for-age. WHO.

Johnson, Robert V., MD. (1994). Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy and Baby's First Year. William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. (2011). Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. (2014). Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Savino, F., Liguori, S. A., Fissore, M. F., & Oggero, R. (2009). Breast Milk Hormones and Their Protective Effect on Obesity. International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology, 2009, 327505. http://doi.org/10.1155/2009/327505

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