Children are different and grow different. What children weigh depends, among other things, on heredity, how much they move and what they eat and drink. It is common to wonder or feel anxious about the child’s weight. Talk to the hospital or student health if you have questions.
Here you will find information on how the child’s weight develops, how it can change, what you can do for yourself and when you need to seek help.
The text is about children from birth up to puberty.
What affects the child’s weight?
Lifestyle habits and heredity are fundamental to how weight is affected.
Lifestyle habits are about what the child eats and drinks and how much they move. The energy that the body needs to grow and develop comes from food and drink. The body needs to lose as much energy as it gets in itself, so as not to gain or lose too much weight. Energy is burned both when the child is moving and when the body is at rest.
What the child weighs also depends to some extent on what the child’s genetic parents weigh and what they weighed as a child, but it can vary widely. Heredity can affect various things such as appetite, satiety and body shape. Some people are basically long and narrow, others are shorter and a little rounder.
Newborns can quickly lose weight if they do not gain enough nutrition. Here you can read about how it can be labeled and what you should do then.
- 0.1 When the weight goes up or down
- 0.2 Does the child’s weight play any role in health?
- 0.3 0-1 years
- 0.4 1-6 years
- 0.5 7-13 years
- 0.6 You need to show how it should be
- 0.7 Do not start with diets or special foods
- 0.8 Then you can talk to the child
- 1 Do I need to seek care?
When the weight goes up or down
Here are some things that can make the child lose weight:
- The child often has infections. For example, it can be cold or stomach upset. The appetite usually gets worse, while the body needs extra calories to fight the infection.
- The child has a long-term or lifelong illness. For example, there may be food allergies, celiac disease, also called gluten intolerance, congenital heart defects, brain damage or inflammatory bowel disease.
- The child eats very little or refuses to eat. Very active children can sometimes eat too little based on how much they move.
- The child is feeling mentally ill. For example, they may have been through a difficult change or not get enough closeness and security. Young children need close contact with at least one adult. Children are affected by how the family feels, even when they are newborn.
- The baby is born prematurely. It is more common with food problems and poor weight gain in premature babies.
- Here are some things that can cause the child to gain too much weight:
The child gets too much food and drink. This is especially true if they eat and drink things that contain a lot of energy, such as cookies, sweets and soft drinks. This also applies if the baby eats frequently. It is also bad for the teeth.
The child is moving too little.
It is important to understand the cause of the weight change and to do something about it. You need to understand if, for example, it is because the child has a disease that prevents them from getting nutrition, or if it is due to lifestyle habits in the family.
Does the child’s weight play any role in health?
It is unusual for the child to have major health problems because the weight changes too much in some way. Usually the child needs to have weighed too little or too much for a longer period, or that there has been a rapid and clear change in weight.
There is research showing that children who are overweight can have health problems as adults, for example, that they more easily have diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The risks apply especially if they continue to be overweight as adults. But the risks do not arise directly but for a long time. By changing habits, the child’s weight development can change, and then the risks are reduced.
The child’s weight at different ages
First, children gain the most weight, then they lose weight and grow more in length.
In the first year of life, the child gains much weight. At one year of age, the child has become three times as heavy as at birth.
How much the child weighs at birth depends primarily on the week in which she is born. The weight is also affected by how the baby is feeling and how the one who gave birth to the child felt during pregnancy, if for example she had some illness. Subsequently, weight is more affected by heredity and lifestyle habits.
Premature babies usually catch up with other peers over time.
In the first few days after birth, most children lose weight. This is due to the redistribution of fluid in the body, that the baby is pooping and that they have not started eating properly. Weight usually increases when breastfeeding or feeding is started. It can sometimes take up to two weeks before the baby weighs as much as at birth.
Children who receive breast milk replacement during their first year of life can sometimes gain more weight than children who are breastfeeding.
It is common for children to vomit when eating, and it does not usually cause the child to lose weight. Contact the child if the child is much vomited, and does not appear to feel well otherwise.
When children are older than six months, they usually do not need to eat at night. When the child wakes up, it does not always mean that they are hungry but may as well mean that the child needs to feel closeness, warmth and security.
After the child’s first year, the foundation is laid for how his weight will be in the future.
Here you can read about when the child starts eating regular food.
From about a year of age, children start to move and move much more. Then they do away with a lot of energy. Children are now also starting to eat more ordinary food. Many children breastfeed less or have stopped breastfeeding. Weight does not increase at the same rate as before. Children increase in length and slowly become narrower. When the child is five to six years old, the ribs sometimes start to appear.
It is common for children to eat slowly and this can affect weight. Now the child also understands that they can decide for themselves how to eat. This can mean that the weight does not increase as much as expected.
Research shows that the craving for sweets and the eating needs that the child has at about two years of age are likely to remain if not broken.
Children of this age need to be physically active for at least three hours each day, and activity should be spread throughout the day. Children should not be sedentary for more than an hour at a time, except for sleeping.
Read more about what children should eat at this age.
Read and get tips on why children do not want to eat and what you can do to increase your child’s appetite.
Now children are getting new habits that can cause some to gain weight and some lose weight. Some children may exercise a lot and need to eat more to cope. Some children sit very still, and may gain too much weight due to too little movement.
As children grow older, they are given more responsibility and, for example, make their own snacks or meals at home. Many children may also have money to trade with.
Children who attend school need to move at least an hour a day. It should be such that the pulse is raised and they become breathless. For example, it may be to cycle to school and to play on the breaks. They also need to exercise or move more intensively so that they are breathless and sweaty at least three hours a week. For example, you can practice some sports, work out dance, play more intensively outdoors or play soccer with your friends. Try to get exercise and exercise in everyday life by cycling or going to preschool or school. Go out into nature sometime during the weekend. Be with the child and play and move, children enjoy when adults are active and playing.
The growing child is at its narrowest this period. It is common for ribs to appear.
Read more on the American Food Agency’s website about good food for children of this age.
The child’s own weight curves and length curves
How the child grows in care is often called growth. Growth curves are used at the childcare center, hospital, and student health. Each child has its own length curve and its own weight curve. The child is measured and weighed regularly, and a nurse writes the child’s height and weight into a table. Care begins to fill in the curves as the baby is born.
The child’s curves show to a certain extent how they are feeling and if they are getting enough nutrition. Based on the curves, care is seen if the child grows as expected, and if they follow their own curves. Following the child’s curves is a good sign.
The child may need to be examined and investigated if for a longer period they deviate too much from their own curves or if the child deviates very much from the average for children of the same age. It may be a sign of, for example, a disease or that the child is getting too little nutrition. hospital and student health control the child’s weight and height.
The growth curves can be used until the child is 18 years.
The staff can show and explain your child’s weight curves and length curves.
What can you do for yourself?
Here are mentioned things that you can try yourself for the child to have a healthy weight.
You need to show how it should be
The child’s weight is affected by what the family and others that the child encounters eat and move.
Here are some tips on food and habits:
- Show how it should be. Lead by example. Eat at regular times and provide food that has good nutrition. Eat the same food as the baby.
- You decide what you eat. For example, it is about what food is served, how much the child is allowed to eat and what kind of food you eat. As an adult, you are responsible for the child getting good food.
- Often it is easier if the child can change habits with the family and other relatives. It is easier if you support the child in their own new habits.
- Feel free to cook food together. Being involved makes the child feel more positive about food and eating, and gets to learn things that are good to know in the future.
- Move with the child, play and exercise.
Here’s how you can do when your child’s weight is lower than expected:
- Use more fat in the food, such as oil or butter.
- Make sure the child is allowed to eat often if they have difficulty eating larger quantities at the same time, or if they do not want to eat at all.
- Follow up on hospital. There you can also talk about how the child is feeling and how the family is feeling. Even things like stress, worry and sleep problems in the child can affect how they eat and also affect weight.
Here’s how you can do when your child’s weight is higher than expected:
- Give smaller portions. Place the child’s portion, and do not place pans or carrots at the dining area.
- Give less fat and less sugar. Give only some sweets and other things that do not contain good nutrition. Do not sneak like this myself, children often discover it.
- Avoid having cookies and sweets at home.
- Make sure there is good food at home for the child as they get older and take more responsibility at home, for example when making their own snack or dinner.
- Think about how and why the child eats. Food can sometimes be a comfort when something is difficult or difficult.
Read in the text Obesity and obesity in children. There are more tips on what to eat and what to think about.
Do not start with diets or special foods
Do not start with diets or any special foods without talking to, for example, hospital or student health. Growing children need nourishment and it is not good to exclude what they need.
If you eat any special foods, you need to have a good look at what nutrition your child needs. Otherwise, the child may get too little nutrition, sometimes it can also lead to nutritional deficiencies. Talk to staff at the childcare center, hospital, or student health if you eat special food or if you plan to let children eat such food. Special food means, for example, vegetarian and vegan food. Read more on the American Food Agency’s website about children and vegetarian food, and about children and vegan food.
Then you can talk to the child
Avoid talking about the child’s weight and how the child looks. Instead, talk about how you need to eat in order for your body to feel good, for example to be able to play, be in school, exercise and grow just fine. Talk about what makes you feel good. Try to change the habits without the child noticing it too much. For example, you can tell the child that you want the family to eat healthy, and that you want you to find things and be active.
Think about how you talk about food. Don’t lose weight yourself or talk about losing weight. It can lead to eating disorders in the child.
Say that everyone looks different and grows in different ways, that everyone is good and good as they are. Never say that the child is “too big”, “thick” or “too narrow”, “skinny”. Don’t talk badly about someone who is slim or big.
Try to talk about food as something you need and that can be good and fun. Make no assumption that someone is “good” who eats a lot or “not good” who doesn’t eat much. Also, never compete at meals for who can eat up fastest.
Contact the hospital or student health for tips on how to talk about it at home and with the child.
Here you can read about what is good food for children up to 6 years. For older children there is information on the American Food Agency’s website.
Do I need to seek care?
Children grow differently and it can be difficult to know how much your child should weigh.
How the child grows and how the weight changes is regularly monitored during visits to hospital and in student health. There you can get advice and support. For example, you can talk about eating habits, how the child grows and about movement.
The staff usually detect if the child’s weight does not develop as expected. You and the staff talk then and the staff make an assessment of whether the child needs to be examined by a doctor, or if it is enough that you make your own tests at home. If the child weighs too little, for example, it may be about breastfeeding more often or having more fat in the food. For example, if the child weighs too much, it may be about being more physically active or replacing buns and cakes with fruit during snacking. The child can also come to hospital and student health on a regular basis, to see how the weight changes.
Contact hospital or student health if you have any thoughts or concerns about your child’s weight, what the child’s eating habits are, or if what you have done yourself does not help.
If you have any questions about your child’s health, you should contact BB for the first week of life. For example, the child may not want to eat or breastfeeding will not work.
You can always call and receive medical advice at telephone number 911.
It can be difficult for the child
Sometimes it may feel good for the child to talk to someone. If your child is feeling unwell, you or the child can contact the health center or student health. If the child is younger than six years, you can contact the health care center or hospital.
Children should be involved
There is no age limit for when a child should be involved or allowed to participate in a care situation. The child should always be able to express his needs and thoughts. The child should be able to participate and decide on his or her age and maturity. For example, the child should be able to talk to the staff himself without you, if the child wants. The older the child, the more important it is for them to be involved in their care.
In order to be active in health care and to make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from health care personnel. You have the right to receive all the information you need from the healthcare staff.
Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed to read it peacefully. If interpretation is needed in other languages, you may have the right to have it. You may also have the right to receive interpreting assistance in the event of hearing loss.
Investigation and treatment
It is unusual for the child to need treatment for his or her weight.
The child may need to be investigated and examined if the weight is lower than expected or if the child stops completely in his weight development, and the measures you yourself do not help. Then the child is examined to find out if they have any disease. For example, the child may undergo an X-ray examination.
The child may also need to be investigated and examined if the weight is higher than expected. Read more about what to do if the child has obesity or obesity.