Rapid Weight Gain in Infants

Chubby babies get lots of attention — they’re so cute! But rapid weight gain in infants can be a health concern.

What is rapid weight gain?

At your baby’s check up, a health professional will check your baby’s weight and compare it to the amount the baby weighed at the last check up. If there is an unusually large weight gain between two checkups (more than 0.67 standard deviations, to be precise), that is considered rapid weight gain. This condition is sometimes called RWG or RIWG for Rapid Infant Weight Gain.

Some research has found a correlation between RWG and childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood. Because of these connections, your pediatrician may talk with you about rapid weight gain if your infant shows this condition.

Causes of RWG

While overfeeding can be the first thing that comes to mind, some studies have found that other factors are more likely to cause the condition. One large study determined that just two things made the most difference:

  • formula feeding
  • feeding on a schedule

Boy babies were more likely to show RWG, and children with low birth weights were more likely to gain weight more quickly. However, neither of these factors can be changed in an infant.

The researchers suggested that breastfeeding on demand was a healthier option for babies in the sense of being less likely to lead to RWG.


Some questions to think about if your infant is gaining weight very rapidly:

  • Are you following the instructions for mixing the formula? In a busy household, it can be hard to be very precise about this.
  • Are you offering a bottle for comfort or to help the baby sleep?
  • Are you giving juice or soda in a bottle?
  • Are you adding cereal to the bottle or giving snacks and solids earlier than necessary?

Sometimes older relatives and friends may recommend giving a baby cereal to help him sleep through the night, or older siblings may want to share their food or drink with the baby. Infants need only milk for their first six months, but earlier generations had other ideas.

Rapid weight gain in infants can be a cause for concern, but with the right management, most infants can achieve healthy weight gain. If you are concerned about your baby’s weight gain, talk to your pediatrician. They can help you develop a plan for managing weight gain and ensuring that your baby is on the path to healthy growth and development.


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