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Caring for your underweight baby

One of the most depressing moments for a new mother is when their baby is born underweight. Low birth weight babies weigh less than 2.5 kilogrammes at birth. In contrast, the average newborn weighs about 3.6 kilogrammes.

According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, over 10 per cent of babies born in Kenya are underweight. A child’s birth weight or size at birth is an important indicator of the child’s vulnerability to the risk of childhood illnesses and chances of survival.

“In Kenya, 200,000 of the 1.6 million children born annually are under 2.5 kilogrammes, therefore this percentage of children is too big to be ignored,” said Rosemarie Lopokoiyit, the National Secretary Kenya Pediatric Association.

Speaking during the launch of Newborn Size One Pampers, Lopokoiyit attributed low birth weight to lifestyle changes, alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking and short spacing of children adopted by mothers.

“I encourage women to be wary of these factors and seek help on how to take care of their pregnancies through the antenatal clinics,” she said. Newborns who are born underweight have low oxygen levels at birth, are unable to maintain body temperature, experience difficulty gaining weight if poorly fed and are at high risk of infection and can have difficulty breathing.

Consolata Kalasa, a pediatric nurse at Aga Khan Hospital said newborns who are born underweight are delicate in nature and are more prone to getting sick easily. “Breastfeeding is the best way of nourishing your baby.

Breastfeed him at regular intervals and exclusively for the first six months after birth,” she said. Kalasa further noted that while taking care of an underweight baby, parents should be cautious when it comes to their baby’s sleep patterns.

“Babies who are underweight are more prone to developing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, hence should never be made to sleep on their stomach,” she offered. She told parents to take their underweight baby for postnatal checks every four weeks.

Underweight newborns also have another challenge of getting a diaper that fits. The event saw the launch of size one diaper by Pampers, which contains a super gel that absorbs and locks away up to 30 times its own weight.

For a great fit on the small baby, the stretchy sides and overlapping tapes are in place. It also has a unique wetness indicator, which makes it easy for a caregiver to detect when a baby is wet and is time for a change

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