Measuring a baby’s weight is essential if you want to see if he or she is growing as they should. As a parent, it provides peace of mind in those early months and years when you want to know that your child is healthy.
Usually, babies are weighed at birth and then on a regular basis by a midwife or health visitor.
In the UK, as part of the National Child Measurement Programme, a child is then weighed when they first start primary school.
Baby scales at home are ideal if parents want to check their baby’s weight more frequently, however, and in this blog post we look at when and how your baby should be weighed.
A rough guide to how often your baby should be weighed
Whilst you may want to weigh your baby frequently - say, once a week - you should bear in mind that particularly in their early weeks a baby’s weight could be noticeably affected by feeding. For example, the first week’s weighing could be just after a baby feeds, and the following week just before - or vice versa. The two readings will make it look like your baby has gained little or no weight - and the last thing you want is unnecessary worry.
For babies upto six months old, once a month is the recommended frequency, or if you feel that you would like to see more frequent readings, maybe once a fortnight.
For babies from six months 12 months, every two months should be frequent enough.
For babies over 12 months old, every three months should suffice.
As we say though, you may want to weigh your baby more frequently - but it is worth bearing in mind when they are actually weighed. Of course, if you’re concerned about your baby’s weight, speak to your GP or health visitor.
When should I weigh my baby?
If you are weighing your baby at home (and this is worth bearing in mind when your baby is weighed by the health visitor, too) take into account feeding times.
Ideally, you should weigh your baby at the same time of the day each time - and either always before or always just after a feed. This will build a better picture of their growth.
If you are weighing your baby yourself, it may be a good idea to weigh them around bathtimes: it is better to weigh your baby naked (as the nappy, either full or empty, can affect the weight reading) and weighing around bathtime means you’re not stripping them down solely for the purpose of weighing,
How should I weigh my baby?
You may find some websites, or some parents, suggest using a bathroom scale to weigh your baby. We strongly advise against this.
There are three reasons for this:
Accuracy of the scale
Weighing scales intended for adults will not have the accuracy of baby scales. For example, a typical Marsden baby scale is accurate to 2g or 5g. The graduations of an adult medical scale are typically 100g or 200g. 2g to 200g is a massive difference.
Suitability of the scale
A quick web search throws up two suggested ways to weigh a baby on a bathroom scale. The first one is to stand on the scale yourself, press Tare to remove your weight from the reading, and then stand on the scale with your baby. The reading will show the weight minus your own weight - i.e the weight of the baby. The second method is to simply place the baby on the bathroom scale.
We would not recommend the first method as, while using Tare is ideal in some scenarios, taking into account scale accuracy for weighing a baby using the Tare function in this way does add another element of error.
We would not recommend the second suggestion either as adult scales are not designed for babies and placing a baby on a floor scale could be a very risky exercise - not to mention uncomfortable for the baby!
Quality of the scale
The vast majority of weighing scales used at home - bathroom scales - are not medically approved weighing scales, and this means that if they cannot be relied upon to provide an accurate weight for an adult, they certainly cannot be trusted when weighing a baby (read more about bathroom scale accuracy in this blog post)
As we have already said, we recommend weighing your baby naked to ensure the weight reading is as accurate as possible.
Which baby scales should I use?
BAS-100HM: A dedicated, value for money baby scale for weighing your infant at home. This scale is sculpted specifically for a baby, meaning they can be weighed comfortably and safely.
M-300: For ultimate accuracy use this scale. Its 2g graduations means it’s popular with lactation consultants as it will show you the smallest changes in a baby’s weight. It’s Class III Approved too so it’s as accurate as baby scales used in hospitals, GP surgeries and clinics.
M-400: If you see weighing your child as a longer-term exercise, go for the M-400, or the higher capacity M-410 (the latter will suit them until they are into their teenage years). The baby tray slides off so that a toddler or older child can stand on the platform underneath. Accuracy is still high and both of these scales are Class III Approved - in other words, legal for medical use.
Your GP or health visitor will be able to advise on baby weighing. Your baby can also be weighed by your GP if you do not have your own baby scale.
For information on How to Measure How Much Breastmilk a Baby is Getting, you can read our blog post.
If you need help with choosing baby scales, speak to the Marsden team on 01709 364296.