By Jennifer Jensen
Babies will change a lot during their first year. Although your baby’s height, weight and head circumference will be measured at each monthly checkup, you may find yourself worrying about her growth between visits to the doctor. Use this helpful guide to give you a rundown of what to expect of your baby’s growth during her first year.
Do not be surprised when baby actually weighs less when leaving the hospital than she did when she was born. “Most healthy babies lose 8 to 10 percent of their birth weight the first week of their life, but then regain it by 2 weeks,” Dr. Puneet Tung, pediatrician at UF Health Pediatrics-Tioga, said.
During the first few months of a baby’s life, those who breastfeed will nurse eight to 12 times a day, sometimes even more if they are going through a growth spurt. If you are formula feeding, expect baby to eat 2–4 ounces of formula six to eight times a day during her first month, 5–6 ounces a feeding five to six times per day during her second month, and 6–7 ounces per feeding five to six times per day during her third month.
In the first three months, healthy babies who are born full term will gain .5 ounce to 1 ounce per day or 1–2 pounds per month. “A useful rule of thumb is that most healthy, full-term newborn babies double their birth weight by four to five months and triple it by their first birthday,” said Dr. Tung.
However, parents need to remember that all babies grow at their own pace and may gain weight faster or slower than these rates. “A small or large baby may be perfectly healthy as long as they are growing along their growth curve,” she said.
During four to six months, babies will need 28–32 ounces of breastmilk or formula per day, feeding four to six times. From four months to one year, babies will gain about .7 ounces per day or about 1.3 pounds per month, Dr. Tung added.
Your baby’s pediatrician will discuss developmental signs of readiness to start solids at her 4-month checkup. Prior to 4 months old, babies are not physically developed enough to eat solids from a spoon, said Dr. Tung. Feeding a baby solids too early could lead to overfeeding and excessive weight gain.
During these months, babies will need at least 24 ounces of breastmilk or 30 ounces of formula. At this point, you should have received the all clear to supplement your baby with solids, if you have not started already. Dr. Tung recommended introducing your baby to new foods one at a time (no mixtures), waiting two to five days before adding a new food to determine if she has any allergies or intolerances. Some great first foods to consider are pureed bananas, sweet peas, beans, carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as dry infant cereal, fortified with iron, that can be mixed with breastmilk or formula and spoon fed. Be sure to offer your baby foods multiple times, even if she spit it out the first time. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, infants and toddlers may need to be exposed to a food as many as 8–15 times before they accept it.
Water can also be introduced after 6 months, said Dr. Tung. Healthy infants require little or no extra water. If your baby is under 6 months and thirsty, offer extra breastmilk or formula.
From 10 months until 12 months, babies will need at least 24 ounces of breastmilk or formula, eating three to four times a day. Dr. Tung recommended trying to wean babies from the bottle by their first year. After their first birthday, you can start adding cow’s milk, fruit juices and honey to their diet.
*The best way to ensure your child is gaining enough weight and staying healthy is by taking her to her regularly scheduled well visits with her pediatrician. If you have any concerns about your baby’s health, consult your pediatrician.