How Do I Know if My Newborn is Thriving?

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When you have a newborn, particularly if you are breastfeeding, you may find yourself worrying if they are getting enough milk. It can feel pretty impossible to know how much milk your baby is actually consuming, with no gauge or way of measuring their daily intake. You may find yourself worrying your baby is getting enough milk and as such, tracking your baby’s weight can be a good indicator that they are thriving and growing as they should be.

But should you track your baby’s weight? Is this the right way to check their progress, how often should you weigh them and does this help reduce your anxieties or actually make them worse? How else can you tell your baby is thriving?

Here is my experience.

No matter how big or small your baby’s birth weight, it is quite common for babies to lose a bit of weight in the days following their birth. As a general rule, most babies will regain their birth weight within the first 2 weeks. My daughter was 6lb 4oz when she was born and whilst she did lose a few ounces, she quickly regained these (and more) over the course of the next week.

You will probably find that your baby is weighed fairly regularly during those first weeks post birth, but weighing on an ongoing basis can help you keep track of whether they are growing well and offer some peace of mind. There are however a few things I know now that I wish I had considered when weighing my daughter as often as once a week!

You don’t need to weigh them every single week – Whilst weight is a good indicator of your baby’s health, remember that your baby’s weight can fluctuate just the same as our own and that measuring them too often can cause you unnecessary anxiety.

The amount your baby weighs when they are small can also depend upon the time of day in which you weigh her. If you have recently fed your baby and she has a full tummy, it can make her appear to weigh significantly more. Then the following week if she’s just soiled her diaper or is due to have a feed, it can appear that she’s dropped in weight substantially.

Weighing less often (such as once a fortnight or once a month), will more clearly highlight the trend in your babies’ growth and be less influenced by minor fluctuations in weight percentiles.

There are other ways to track your baby’s health – whilst weight is a good indicator that your breastfed baby is thriving, there are other helpful ways to track that your baby is doing well.

  • Calm and content – firstly, a healthy baby who is feeding well will generally be calm and content after their feed, and relax during the feed itself.
  • Awake and alert – although newborn babies sleep a LOT of the time, when they are awake, a healthy baby will be alert and observe the world around them.

There are physical signs your baby is taking in milk – Listening to your baby during their breastfeed can be a good way to check whether they are feeding well. If you can see and hear your baby swallowing and visually see milk or liquid around the mouth, this is a good indicator that they are consuming milk rather than just suckling on your breast for comfort.  As your breastfeeding becomes more established, you will also become familiar with that let down sensation. I could often hear my daughter glugging which was a really reassuring sign.

Finally, you can also keep an eye on your baby’s diapers to see if your baby is thriving. These are a good indication that your baby is consuming a good amount of milk, and for young babies, you can usually except around 6 heavy wet diapers every 24 hours. Your baby may urinate less often in high temperatures, but if there are less wet diapers than normal you may want to offer to nurse more frequently.

There is no exact science to tracking your baby’s development, but knowing what is normal for you and your baby is also important too. Trust your gut – you’re doing a great job!

Lucy Cotterill
Lucy is a UK-based parenting and lifestyle blogger who has also featured in the Huffington Post. A Mom of two daughters, Lucy is passionate about sharing the true reality of parenthood and helping others through their first experiences. In her free time she loves to write, go on day trips with her family and photography.

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