The relationship between weight gain and growth begins at conception and continues through adolescence. From birth to the first year of life is a period of rapid weight gain and growth. The general guidelines for growth in the first year of life are:
- baby loses 5-10% of birth weight in the first week and regains this by 2-3 weeks
- birth weight is doubled by about 5 months and tripled by 12 months
- birth length increases 1.5 times in 12 months about 25.5 cm
- birth head circumference increases by about 7.6 cm in 12 months.
It is important to remember these are guidelines. Weight gain and growth in infants will be individual. Growth charts are used to track and assess growth. These charts were developed based on standards which assume conditions necessary for optimal growth are present. The percentiles on the growth standard percentile charts are standards. Your infants growth and or weight may be above or below the standard in many cases this is normal. It is important that you keep a record of your infant’s growth and weight and update it regularly.
Important to note
Exclusive breastfeeding that is breast milk only for the first six months of life is recommended for an infant’s ideal growth and development. At the age of six months complementary feeding should begin. Complementary foods are added with continued breast or formula feeding. The nutrients needed for continued growth and development are no longer found solely in breast milk and complementary feeding becomes necessary. One such nutrient required during this period of rapid growth is iron. Some good sources are fortified cereals, pureed meat, chicken, peas and beans. Vitamins C helps in the absorption of iron from plant sources. Vitamin C foods include pureed vegetables and fruit.
Written by, Kerry Weatherly, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist