Baby weight gain: when to worry when it stagnates?
If the good evolution of the baby’s weight gives an indication of his health and the good progress of his growth, it is not always easy to know how to monitor it. The health record offers several growth charts – weight, height and body mass index or BMI – so which should be referred to?
“The BMI curve is of no interest, it’s the weight curve that counts“, indicates Professor Tounian. A weight curve must theoretically be regular, which means that the weight of the child must follow its corridor of percentile. “We speak of inflection when the weight curve no longer follows its corridor” , explains the specialist.
In the event of a shift, it is always advisable to consult a pediatrician who will confront this weight stagnation with the baby’s clinical assessment.
It is conventionally considered that a child should take approximately 25 grams per day until its 3 months, 20 g/d Between 4 and6 months, 15 g/d of its 7 months to 9 months and 10 g/d until his first birthday. This increase will then decrease until the child is 5 years old when he theoretically takes only less than 2 kg in the year.
However, these figures are only medium and should not be taken literally. Each child has their own weight curve and their own evolution.
Why a baby does not grow: the different causes
When the child weight chart no longer increases, it is necessary to understand the cause so as not to miss a potential health problem. “When a child gains little weight, there are generally three main categories of possible causes”, explains the specialist: psychological causes, somatic causes and genetic causes.
Somatic causes: growth retardation
Somatic causes may be related to a sickness or to a insufficient food intake. There are three main categories in these somatic causes.
First somatic causes: repeated infections. This is often the case at community entry for the baby, when he starts nursery school and successively catches all the little viruses circulating. “The child has little appetite and it is common to see weight stagnation that can last several months“, says Professor Tounian. curve of the child is then zigzag : it loses weight during the infection, recovers a little between two infections and loses again with the following one.
Second somatic causes: gross dietary errors. They are the result of a poor nutritional knowledge of parents, who, thinking they are doing the right thing, do not feed their child enough. “This is the case, for example, of a too much soup : the parents think that it is nutritionally rich because it is rich in vitamins and minerals, but the soup provides almost no calories”, explains the specialist. This is also the case for the parents vegan who wish to put their toddler on the same diet as themselves at the risk of them running out of calories and micronutrients.
Third somatic causes: food allergies or digestive diseases, such as allergy to cow’s milk protein or other foods, or celiac disease (gluten intolerance). These pathologies require exploration by a doctor who will make the diagnosis. These more serious causes are characterized by a break in the weight curve.
Psychological causes: oppositional anorexia or psychiatric anorexia
Following a banal event – change of custody, illness – the child can develop a oppositional anorexia. The child begins to refuse to eat, generating the concern of his parents who will tend to insist or even force him, and then a vicious circle is set up.
Pr Patrick Tounian, head of the Pediatric Nutrition Department at Trousseau Hospital: “Often, the more parents worry and try to force the child, the more he turns and opposes.”
Generally, the curve is jagged : the child loses weight, then recovers because he ends up being hungry and accepting to eat, then he refuses food again. “It is in this kind of case that it is said that a child never lets himself die of hunger, which is true in the vast majority of cases” reassures the specialist. Above all, therefore, it is not necessary not get into child’s playdo not try to force him or enter into conflict with him.
However, in exceptional cases, the infant may develop severe psychiatric anorexia with potentially serious consequences. Psychiatric care for the whole household is then essential.
Genetic causes: baby or child of low weight who does not grow and does not grow quickly
Some children are at the bottom of the weight and height curves: they naturally eat little, therefore gain little weight but follow their curve corridor normally. “We are talking about constitutional thinness“, explains Professor Tounian. The child is genetically programmed to be skinny and there is nothing to be done to fight against this.
“Above all, you should not force naturally small children to eat more: even if they can force themselves on one meal, they will make up for it by eating less at the next meal, at the risk of unbalancing their diet.”
Breastfeeding: when baby no longer grows with breast milk
breastfeeding is not always a long calm river. “In some cases, after a few weeks of breastfeeding, there may be stagnation in the baby’s weight due to insufficient intake”, explains Professor Tounian. This is something quite common, which can have several possible causes. The mother can go to a lactation consultant, who will watch how breastfeeding is going. The solution is often to restimulate lactation by putting the baby to the breast very often, up to ten times a day for two to three days.
Solutions for baby’s curve to go up vary depending on the cause of the stagnation.
- In the event of a dietary error by the parents, it suffices to reintroduce the nutritious foods that the baby needs, which vary according to his age.
- In the case of oppositional anorexia: parents must remain as calm as possible and resist the temptation to force their child. Meals should remain a convivial and pleasant moment!
- In the event of a drop in lactation, it is always recommended to refer to a lactation consultant who will be able to provide the appropriate advice.
And when you are in the presence of a naturally thin child, you should above all do nothing and respect his desires and his appetitewhich correspond exactly to his needs.
Why does a baby lose weight at birth?
All babies lose weight within a few days of birth. It’s exactly normal because the baby eliminates meconium – first stools – from his intestines, as well as a surplus of water via the urine.
How much weight does a newborn lose at birth?
The infant loses approximately 10% of his birth weight, which corresponds to 300g for a 3 kg baby for example.
When does he regain his birth weight?
“The fatter a baby is at birth, the greater the risk of losing weight and the longer the weight gain is likely to take,” explains the head of the department. This is for example the case of babies whose mother has made a Gestational Diabetes, which tend to be born larger. These babies can take up to three weeks to regain their birth weight, which was not their physiological weight but overweight.
The average time to regain weight after birth is two weeksabout.