Ideal weight for children
HAVE you ever wondered why newborn babies are weighed and measured at every visit? Every time you bring your baby to the clinic or hospital for a check-up, the doctor or nurse will place baby on the scales and then measure his/her length. These figures are then recorded on a chart for the doctor to observe and determine if baby is growing well for his/her age.
One thing for sure, big, bouncy babies make great eye candy and thin babies appear sickly. How many of us can resist pinching plump cheeks or at least tickling a fleshy chin? It’s normal for parents to worry if their baby is not growing at a healthy rate. They diligently check out growth charts on the Internet and should baby’s weight not measure up against the set of “normal” figures or falls to the bottom of the chart, they will feel guilty and are stressed.
Yes, a child’s weight is important as a healthy weight is the first physical sign of a person’s wellbeing. But hey, don’t worry too much. Each baby is unique and as long as he/she seems fine and is drinking milk contentedly, he/she is doing well.
Don’t forget that not all babies grow at the same rate nor do they have similar measurements at birth. An Asian newborn weighs an average 3.2kg while a Caucasian newborn will tip the scales at an average 3.6kg. At six months, nine months and 12 months, Asian babies weigh an average 7.5kg, 8.5kg and 9.5kg respectively.
Do remember though, that such figures are just rough standards. Like human adults, babies come in all sizes, from petite to medium and large. Also, baby boys generally have a faster growth rate than girls. Baby growth charts are good for a general “average” reference only, so if you think there’s cause for worry, voice your concerns to the paediatrician at the next visit to allay your fears and, more importantly, to eliminate the possibility of a medical problem.
Having said that though, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a close eye on your child’s food intake, in terms of quantity and variety, especially after six months of age.
Once babies are weaned on solid food, there’s more reason to ensure they are eating right. Here are some tips.
1. Offer healthy, wholesome food such as vegetables instead of potato crisps, protein instead of cookies and fruit instead of icecream. Encourage them to go outdoors and run or jump instead of watching television on the couch.
2. Resist the temptation to overfeed. If your toddler does not want any more food, don’t force and punish or coax with rewards to make him/her clean up the plate.
Indeed, using food to reward is the worst possible act. For instance, telling children they can only have ice-cream “if they finish their broccoli” will reinforce the idea that ice-cream is more “tasty” than meat and vegetables.
3. Don’t offer snacks in between meals, even if your toddler has not eaten much earlier. They are able to survive a few hours without eating and will not come to any harm. Don’t give milk either and do offer water instead of soda and even freshly squeezed fruit juice.
When babies reach 12 months, the growth rate usually slows down slightly and picks up again after 24 months. Don’t worry. This is because at 12 months, toddlers begin to lose their “baby fat” since they are now more active physically. They have learnt to walk, run and are getting more boisterous at play too; soon they will start developing more muscle.
At 18 months, a toddler averages 10.5kg and at two years is about 12.5kg. Then at three years, four years and five years, the average standards are 14kg, 16kg and 18.5kg respectively.
Still, some babies, especially picky eaters, may register lower growth rates. When their anxiety shoots past the ceiling, parents then fuss over babies’ food, which can lead to unpleasant moments at mealtimes.
Perhaps your child is having gastrointestinal problems. Reflux, bloated bellies or constipation will definitely suppress appetites. If you fear your child is underweight or not getting the proper nutrition, consult a paediatrician or a dietician who may prescribe a supplement where necessary.
This article was contributed by Himalaya Healthcare Malaysia