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Worried Your Baby Is Underweight? How to Check What's Normal
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  • Is my baby growing properly? Does his weight "look okay"? Is he too small or too big? If there is a physical milestone parents fret over a lot, it's his growth. To help ease your worries, here are a few key things to keep in mind. 

    Guideline for his first year of life
    “Infant growth tends to follow a fairly predictable path,” said pediatrician Dr. Jay L. Hoecker in a column for Mayo Clinic. Here are general guidelines for a baby’s growth in the first year of life. 

    • First week 
      Don’t panic if your baby isn’t gaining weight yet. “Immediately after birth, infants lose approximately 10% of their body weight because of fluid loss and some breakdown of tissue. They usually regain their birth weight within seven days,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
    • 4 to 6 months
      On average, infants gain 4 to 7 oz per week. A baby may also grow 1.5 to 2.5 cm a month, said Dr. Hoecker. It's also the time when infants double their birth weight. 
    • 6 to 12 months
      Typically, infants gain 3 to 5 oz per week at this age range, and grow around 1 cm a month. By age 1, “expect your baby to triple his or her birth weight,” said Dr. Hoecker, and increase in length by 50%. 

    The best way to know if your baby is growing properly is to keep up with his regular well-baby visits. 

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    How your doctor assess your baby's growth
    Your baby’s doctor is equipped with a standard growth chart, developed by the World Health Organization. It plots your baby’s measurements–length, weight and head circumference–at every visit, Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas, a pediatrician from Parkview Children’s Clinic in Makati, told Smart Parenting

    If you make sure that you don't miss your baby’s check-ups, which are usually scheduled at birth, a week later, and then once every month after, you don't have to worry about keeping track of your baby’s weight and height. “We never take it as just the measurements on a chart, we always have to see the baby as a whole,” Dr. Isip-Cumpas explains, adding pedias check for other areas of growth, including developmental milestones.  

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    Babies come in all shapes and sizes
    If your concern is your baby is smaller than your neighbor’s baby of the same age, stop comparing. “Each baby is different. Each baby follows his or her own growth curve,” explained Dr. Isip-Cumpas. 

    A growth curve is the rate at which your child grows. Say, for example, that your baby was born in the 25th weight percentile, or weighing a little less than other babies, but still very much within normal. “We expect that when he’s weighed at the next scheduled visit, he would still be around that percentile.” 

    If you compare that to a baby who's in the higher percentile (say, the 60th percentile), of course, you'll see that the baby is smaller. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your baby. “Babies can be naturally smaller or naturally bigger than others,” explained Dr. Isip-Cumpas. 

    When to worry
    Pediatricians get concerned if a baby’s measurements start falling or plateauing (when it’s not increasing over time) even if it's still within the normal, said Dr. Isip-Cumpas. Your child’s doctor will definitely share this concern with you and will go over your baby’s measurement, behavioral development, feeding habits, and other areas of growth.

    All of the above, of course, doesn't mean you don't share your concerns to your pediatrician. Don't hesitate to voice your apprehensions. “We’ll go over your baby’s measurements with you and together we’ll see if there’s something we should be concerned about,” said Dr. Isip-Cumpas. 

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