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Pregnancy Topics..

You are here : home > Pregnancy > The Normal Pregnancy > Baby's Birth Weight

Baby's Birth Weight


Baby's Birth Weight
Why is “How much does the baby weigh?” the first question asked of parents after delivery. Birth weight is the only area where parents wish their children are average. This is because a baby’s birth weight is a marker for its general health.

What is a Baby’s Birth Weight?

A Baby’s Birth Weight is the body weight of a baby at the time of its birth. It is the only area where parents wish that their children are average. A low birth weight, and parents worry that their children are born ill; A high birth weight, and parents worry that their children may be prone to obesity.

The first question that parents are asked upon the birth of their child is “how much does the baby weigh?” This is because a baby’s birth weight is a marker for its general health. It is no wonder then, that from the moment your baby is born, doctors will closely monitor their weight, height, head size and abdominal circumference. The average weight of a baby born full term (i.e. between 37 and 41 weeks) is 3.2 kg. An average Indian baby weighs approximately 2.8 kg. At full term, an average baby is 51 cm long and will weigh anywhere between 2.7 to 4 kg.

Because a baby born either heavier or lighter than the average weight may be prone to health problems, doctors may keep the newborn under observation for a little while as a precaution.

What is a Low Birth Weight Baby?

World Health Organization terms any newborn weighing less than 2.5 kg as a Low Birth Weight baby, irrespective of when the baby is delivered during the gestational cycle. About 6 in 100 babies in the United Kingdom and 1 in every 12 babies in the United States have a low birth weight.

Babies weighing less than 2 kg at birth require special neonatal care for the first few weeks.

Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy have a low birth weight. However, since the reason for the low birth weight is that they have been delivered before finishing full term and development in the womb, they are termed as Pre-Term babies and not Low Birth Weight babies.

How is the Weight of a Newborn Classified?

Babies are classified on the basis of their weight at birth and their gestational age as shown below:

  • High Birth Weight (HBW) – Birth Weight more than 4 kg
  • Normal Birth Weight – Birth Weight around 3.2 kg
  • Low Birth Weight (LBW) – Birth Weight less than 2.5 kg
  • Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) – Birth Weight less than 1.5 kg
  • Extremely Low Birth Weight (ELBW) – Birth Weight less than 1 kg
  • Small for Gestational Age (SGA) – Birth Weight less than the 10th Percentile
  • Appropriate for Gestational Age (AGA) – Normal Birth Weight
  • Large for Gestational Age (LGA) – Birth Weight greater than the 90th Percentile
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) – Lower Birth Weight compared to a baby's gestational age

Reasons for Differing Birth Weight

The factors that determine why that some babies are born with a lower birth weight as compared to other babies are as follows:


A baby needs proper nutrients to help it to develop properly in the womb. A mother’s poor diet affects her baby’s weight and growth rate. Women are strongly advised to stay away from Alcohol, Smoking and Illegal Drugs for the duration of their pregnancy.


The size of the parents affects the birth weight of the baby. If the parents are either skinny or short, the baby will be born smaller-than-average and vice-versa. If the mother puts on too much weight during the pregnancy, the baby will have a higher-than-normal birth weight.

Prenatal Health

A mother’s health during pregnancy is one of the biggest determinants of the baby’s birth weight. If the mother is anaemic or diabetic during pregnancy, or suffers from uterine problems, it will affect the baby adversely. The blood supply to the placenta may be reduced in case of a low-lying placenta, or high blood pressure in pregnancy; which will decrease the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching the baby thereby restricting its growth and development. Rh incompatibilities, infections such as toxoplasmosis, listeroids or sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV-AIDS will also cause the baby to be born with a low birth weight.

Mother’s History

The mother’s own birth weight and her genetic history will also affect the baby’s birth weight. If the mother has a history of miscarriage, stillbirths, neonatal death or suffers from pre-existing health problems like asthma and heart disease, then the baby is more likely to be born with a low birth weight.

Baby’s Health

Infections to the baby during pregnancy and birth defects can affect your child’s birth weight and growth.

Another factor affecting the birth weight includes the Gender of the child. Boys are generally born heavier than girls. Moreover, if the child is a Firstborn, he may be born smaller than subsequent children. If the mother is carrying Twins or more; not only are they born prematurely, but they also do not grow as much as single babies owing to the lack of space. Race is also a factor. Caucasian babies have a higher birth weight as compared to African-American, Asian, or Native American babies.

What to Do if Your Baby Has a Low Birth Weight?

If you give birth to a low birth weight baby, the doctors and nurses will anyways keep a keen eye on your baby to monitor its health and development. However, there are some things that you are recommended to do once you take your baby home:

  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Ensure that your baby gets all its growth and development checks
  • Pay attention to the baby’s weight. Any rapid weight gain or loss should be checked with your doctor.
  • Ensure a nutritious diet for your baby. Use only those formulas recommended by doctors.
Influence of Low Birth Weight on Adult Life

Most Low Birth Weight Babies go on to lead healthy, normal lives. However, in some cases, it can adversely affect the child’s adult life. Low birth weight is the main causative factor for high infant mortality rates. The effects of low birth weight depend on the cause of the low birth weight and the stage of pregnancy in which the problem occurred.

Some of the severe problems that could occur in the future are as follows:

  • Breathing problems
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar
  • Problems with feeding
  • Difficulty in keeping warm
  • Polyglobulia or an increase in red blood cells leading to thickening of blood

Weight Loss and Growth Spurts

Do not panic if your baby loses weight after delivery. Newborn babies normally lose 5 to 10% of their birth weight in a few days after delivery. This is because the baby loses fluid after birth. The baby will gain back all the weight after 10 to 14 days after they start breastfeeding. If, however, the baby has lost weight because of a sickness or premature birth, it will take up to 3 weeks to gain back the lost weight.

Newborns gain about 30 g per day during the first month and grow about 1 to 1.5 inches in height during the same period. Newborns experience periods of rapid growth at 7 to 10 days and again at 3 and 6 weeks.

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AarogyaData.7 years ago
Many women are confused about baby’s birth weight and about how much weight gain is normal during pregnancy. It’s a good share for this reason. Kudos!
.8 years ago
My baby girl birth weight is 2.1 kgs how to increase the weight and how to tske best care please help!!!!!!"
.8 years ago
My baby girl birth weight is 2.1 kgs how to increase the weight and how to tske best care please help!!!!!!"
.8 years ago
my new born baby weight is 2.1kg delivery after 38 week from the date of pregnancy is it right and how i best care of my child please tell me thanks
.11 years ago
Dear Annu,
Pl. don't worry, its not necessary that every woman feels morning sickness and vommitting through out the pregnancy. You just take an appointment of doctor and check it out.. i think there is no prob. at all.
Kiran.11 years ago

Its a very nice experience, do not scared.. its a special god gift given to us being a woman.
pinki.11 years ago
We are planning our first baby but i am scared of delivery.
Aruna.11 years ago
Hi, I am 28weeks pregnant and my baby is 1600gms. My Gyno says baby is over weight and i need to test my sugar levels. Please advise if it is really over weight.
Thanks in advance.
Annu.12 years ago
i was having vomitting and morning sickness after i missed my periods. the urine test for pregnancy was positive. but after two days no signs of vomitting and morning sickness is there. is it ok or harmful?
Kumud.12 years ago
we are planning for are second baby.i had iud for 4 years are there any side effects of that?
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