Baby’s Weight Loss after Birth – What’s Normal and What’s Not

It is very normal for the new parents to feel concerned for the health and well-being of their newborn baby, and the baby’s initial weight loss may be one of their concerns. If you are wondering whether it is normal for newborn babies to lose weight after birth, or what can be considered as normal weight loss, this article will throw light on these aspects and more.

Why Does a Newborn Lose Weight after Birth?

So, why exactly do babies lose weight after birth? Well, it is very normal for newborn babies to lose some of their body weight, which is mostly fluid loss. This happens because babies have tiny tummies and they are not able to take in sufficient amounts of milk initially to cover up for this fluid loss. However, as your baby grows, he makes up for this loss by consuming ample amounts of milk.

What is Considered a “Normal Weight Loss”?

Most babies may lose from 5 to 10 per cent of their body weight. This means if your baby is born with a birth weight of 3500 grams, then he may lose up to 350 grams of weight within a week after birth. Thereby, his weight may reach up to 3150 grams. If your baby loses up to 10 per cent of his body weight, it may be considered normal.

Normal weight loss in babies

When Do Babies Regain Their Birth Weight?

Though you may worry about your baby’s weight loss, however, it is important to understand that your baby’s weight gain is directly related to your breast milk supply. It means that once your milk supply is in place, which may happen between 3rd to 5th day after birth, your baby may not lose further weight; rather, he’ll eventually start gaining weight. Here’s what may usually happen:

  • Your baby’s weight from birth to 3rd or 5th day – up to 10 per cent of weight loss
  • 3rd to 5th day – Your baby’s weight remains constant, or he may gain or lose few grams
  • 5th day onwards or as and when your milk supply increases – your baby may begin to gain approximately 130 grams to 330 grams a week, or 0.6 kilograms to 1.4 kilograms per month, for the first three months.

What If More Than 10% of the Original Birth Weight Is Lost?

Though weight loss is considered normal in newborn babies, however, if your baby is reaching a weight loss mark that may be more than 10 per cent, then he’ll be closely monitored by the doctors. Also, how much weight your baby may lose may depend on how well he adjusts to his weight gaining schedule and how well the mother lactates. It is also seen that breastfed babies may lose more weight in comparison to bottle-fed babies, which is not an indication that bottle-feeding is a healthier option to help your baby regain his lost weight.

What is “Excessive Weight Loss” in an Infant?

If your baby loses more than 12 per cent of his body weight, then it may pose a serious threat to his health. This is because more weight loss means more loss of fluid; this loss may lead to dehydration, which has fatal consequences.

1. Is It Dangerous?

Where normal weight loss in a newborn baby in the first 24 hours may not be dangerous for your baby, any kind of excessive weight loss may pose a grave danger to him. This is because excessive weight loss may amount to dehydration which in turn may thicken the baby’s blood. This may strain your baby’s heart to work more, and under complex situations the blood vessels may clog up, leading to life-threatening complications. Low amounts of fluid in the body may hike up the sodium levels in the baby’s body and may adversely affect the cells. Together, dehydration and high sodium levels may lead to fatal complications as it may lead to seizures or fits.

2. What Causes It?

In most cases, babies make up for their normal baby weight loss after birth. However, under the following circumstances, your baby’s weight loss may reach dangerous levels:

  • If your baby may suffer from some underlying medical condition.
  • If your baby may not be feeding frequently. This may happen due to missed feeding sessions, or the baby may be refusing to feed, due to being fed forcefully. It is important to feed a baby on demand and at regular intervals. Failing to do either may lead to weight loss issues.
  • If your baby may not be getting enough milk. This may happen due to improper latching or feeding position, and this could also be one of the reasons for the baby’s weight loss after birth and while breastfeeding.

Baby breastfeeding

3. How Do Doctors Diagnose Excessive Weight Loss in Babies?

Here’s how your doctor may establish the signs of your baby’s excessive weight loss after birth:

  • Your doctor may check how your baby behaves and looks. This means your baby should look active and energetic rather than tired and fatigued, which could mean that your baby may be unwell.
  • Your doctor will see how well your baby latches to the breast and also whether he makes a gagging or swallowing sound.
  • Your doctor will also check how many dirty or wet nappies your baby may be producing in a day. 5 to 10 wet nappies and 3 to 5 dirty nappies on an average may be considered normal in a 24-hour day cycle for a newborn baby.

4. What If There are Any Concerns?

If there are any of the above reasons may be a cause for concern then your doctor may suggest the following:

  • If a baby is unwell, then the doctor may thoroughly check the baby to establish his health condition.
  • You may be referred to a lactation consultant, or your midwife may guide you on the proper feeding and latching positions to take.

5. How Can Parents Help to Prevent Excessive Weight Loss in Their Baby?

Here are some preventive measures that parents may follow to prevent excessive weight loss in their baby:

  • Have ample skin-to-skin contact with your baby to make him feel cosy and relaxed. This may help him feed better too.
  • Make sure you follow a good feeding and latching position to ensure that baby is feeding properly.
  • Be aware and proactive. This may help you to know if there is any situation that may be required to be put into your doctor’s notice.
  • A mother knows what may be best for her baby; therefore, you may go by your instinct and feed your baby on demand.
  • If you require help or assistance, do not hesitate to ask for help and act promptly.

Preventing excessive weight loss in babies

It is normal for the parents to feel concerned about the well-being of their newborn baby. If you register any kind of weight loss issues in your newborn baby, you must seek immediate medical assistance for the same.

Also Read: Healthy Weight Gaining Foods for Babies