Test Weighing Your Newborn


Sister Susan is back with another story, she recounts, "During my days working in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), I have built a strong rapport with the parents of babies admitted to the unit. Some of these "friendships" are still ongoing today.

When their babies are admitted to NICU, the parents often feel helpless and “guilty”, which can bring out hostility towards those of us working in NICU. I once encountered a father, who was dissatisfied with whatever we were trying to do for the baby, even when we were trying to help the mother with breastfeeding. Everything was “wrong” in his eyes, so much so that the staff avoided him. I tried to assist in whatever ways I could and with perseverance and patience, I was able to “win” him over. I used this rapport to teach him what he needed to know and do, especially when helping his wife with breastfeeding.

Being a “first-time dad”, he was not prepared for fatherhood especially when his little one was a “late preterm” that was born between 34 – 36 weeks of gestation. Furthermore, in a month's time, he was going to relocate to China for a new assignment with his new family. I can imagine his anxiety about moving to a completely unfamiliar location with his new family.

He was not convinced that his baby was putting on weight and at home, he continually monitored the output and the baby’s cues to ensure sufficient milk intake. Eventually, I had to resort to teaching him the old-fashioned method of test-weighing the baby. I loaned him a digital scale and taught him how to use it. Using the test-weight, he can directly verify that the baby is growing, which it did."

The simplest method for assessing milk intake in breast-fed infants is test-weighing (weighing before and after feeding). This method is commonly used in the first few weeks of life, during the breastfeeding buildup phase, and when newborn infants are ill, both at home and in the hospital. It is assumed that the increase in the baby's weight after feeding (in grams) reflects the amount of milk consumed by the infant (in millilitres).

Although the test-weighing method is the most straightforward method of measurement. You may encounter a study (100 babies) titled "Accuracy and precision of test weighing to assess milk intake in newborn infants" in 2006. According to the study, test weighing is an imprecise method of assessing milk intake in young infants. This is due to the fact that infant weighing scales are not sensitive enough to detect minor changes in an infant's weight after feeding. Test weighing should not be used in clinical practice due to its unreliability. This explains why many hospitals do not use test weighing.

However, for daily usage, test-weighing is the most practical method for parents to track their child's growth.