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Newborn fat: Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore it

Newborn fat: Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore it
High birth weight exposes newborns to many health risks. Ensure a healthy body weight for your little one. © Shutterstock.

Recent research shows that high birth weight increases a child's obesity as she grows. Here's how to prevent obesity in your newborn.

Written by Saswati Sarkar |Updated : August 17, 2020 9:18 AM IST

Babies come in various shapes and sizes. In most cases, the baby fat around your little one's chubby cheeks or chunky thighs is normal and perfectly healthy. Infants have a storage of fats under their skin as they need quick supply of energy at times. However, it can be a cause of concern, if the fat mass is way too high. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that a newborn with too high fat mass is likely to be overweight or obese between two to six years of age. This is probably one of the very few studies that establishes a link between high birth weight or neonatal fat deposition and childhood obesity at a later stage.

What should be the ideal birth weight?

According to neonatologists, the healthy birth weight of a baby should approximately be 3.2 kg. While 4 kg is considered to be high birth weight, 2.5 kg is recognised as low. A birth weight of 1.5 kg is very low, according to experts. Growing by 150g-200g in weight every week is normal in the first six months while the normal weekly figure is 80g to 150g during the next six months.

The growth rate of your infant will be the highest in the first year of life. His birth weight may be double in the first six months and triple at the end of age 1. Your little bundle of joy will need a high fat diet to support this rapid growth spurt. However, the growth rate may vary. So, don't fret about how much your little one is growing every week or month. Keeping a track of the overall pace at which he is growing is good enough.

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What happens if your newborn is too heavy or large?

In case a baby is too big inside the womb, her shoulders may get pressurised by the mom's pelvic bones. This can result in nerve damage in the neck and even breakage of the collar bones or the arms. The other complications include difficulty in breathing, thick heart muscles and even brain damage. An overweight baby is also more vulnerable to jaundice at birth.

What causes high birth weight?

Gestational diabetes is the main culprit behind heavy babies. The main nutrient that influences a baby's growth is sugar. That is why pregnant women with high blood sugar levels are more likely to give birth to babies with high birth weight.

Help your newborn maintain a healthy weight

If your baby's weight gain becomes a cause of concern for you, then the first thing that you should do is consult your paediatrician. There are a also a few steps that you can take in order to ensure that he isn't obese.

  • Don't overfeed your baby. Make sure you nurse only as much as your baby demands. Also, avoid breastfeeding for a duration longer than 45 minutes.
  • As your little bundle of joy grows, focus more on spending time in playing with her. Encourage movement right from the initial phase of life of his life. This will go a long way in helping him lead an active life and help him maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Once you introduce solids to your infant, keep high sugar foods at bay. Also, avoid empty calories. Give him soft fruits, sliced into small pieces as well as finely chopped, boiled vegetables.

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