You think fashion models obsess about weight -- they have nothing on parents with a baby!
Eileen Rainey’s second baby, Mckenzie, was a slow-gaining baby right from the start. “She weighed seven pounds, four ounces at birth,” Rainey recalls, “but was very jaundiced and didn’t get back to her birth weight until she was 3½ weeks old. Then she seemed to start gaining faster.”
At four months, though, her rate of weight gain slowed down again. “Between four months and six months, she only gained nine ounces,” says Rainey. “On the other hand, she’d been sick not long before we went to the doctor, and I think that affected her weight.” But her doctor was concerned, and referred her to a paediatrician.
In recent years, our understanding of normal baby growth has improved. Valerie Marchand, a Montreal paediatric gastroenterologist and chair of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s Nutrition and Gastroenterology Committee, was part of a group that recommended the use of new growth charts developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). While the previous charts, used to mark down and follow a baby’s growth patterns, were based on formula-fed babies, these new ones were based on breastfed babies who started solids around the middle of the first year.
“The biggest difference between the new charts and the old charts is that breastfed babies grow more quickly in the first four to six months, and then slow down, while formula-fed babies grow more slowly at first and then gain weight faster,” Marchand explains. “So on the old charts, it could look as though a breastfed baby’s weight was faltering. Most paediatricians knew that this was OK, but a lot of parents would worry, and some would wean or add formula.” With the new charts, parents will see that their breastfed baby is gaining appropriately.