Explain baby weight to me

Okay, seems like the first thing everyone asks when someone has a baby, right after “what did you name him/her” is “how much does it weigh?” which is always followed up by a xx lbs, xx oz answer.

Okay, so…what kind of information is really being given out here? I mean, what’s the different between a 5lb baby and a 10lb baby, or a 5lb2oz baby (aside from one being twice as heavy)?

No sarcasm intended, I just know very little about babies and I’m just curious as to what those weights translate to, and does birth weight give a scientific prediction as to the upcoming health of a human?

Very low birth weight can be indicative of health problems, and very high birth weight means you should be a little extra sympathetic to the mother.

whatever size the baby is, the majority of women had to push a baby of that size out of their vagina, ergo, it is an item of curiosity how big that baby was. 10 lbs would be a pretty huge baby, 5lbs would be small, maybe premature. I think 6-9 lbs is the typical range, of course within “normal” there is much variation.

Low birthweight (under 5lb 8 oz) is correlated with medical problems down the line, but I don’t think that’s why people are asking. They are just a bit interested in the process – plus newborn babies really don’t have many attributes so it’s just a polite question you can ask to show interest.

As an aside, my family tends to very high birth weights. One of my cousins was 11 pounds, 15 ounces, and when another aunt had triplets, the lightest of them was 6 pounds, 1 ounce. So the first time I heard that a family friend had had a baby, and that the kid was 6 pounds even, I asked “Oh, no! What’s wrong with her?”.

I agree it is a question that goes way back to the days when it wasn’t unusual for women to die in childbirth or for babies to die while being born. Even low weight babies can be helped now. So it’s an indicaton of baby health. a 8 pound baby is a round-a-bout way of saying, that is a good weight and since it has a good weight, it must also be healthy and will grow up to be healthy.

It also provides a common ground for woman, who share the childbirth experience and often talk by relating to each others pain. Though this is somewhat relative, a bigger baby is harder (in general) to give birth to, and though it doesn’t automatically mean more pain, it provides a rough guidline.

Think of it like when a mother is talking about her little boy and says “He was the brave little soldier, he got cut and the doctor stitched him up and he didn’t cry once.” Being able to hold your own with pain is a symbol of strength

So a baby’s weight will indicate health and give the mothers a common topic

Same way in my family. When my friends started having 6 and 7 lb. kids, I was worried until I looked up what “normal” birthweights are. Thankfully, my niece was a healthy 10 lbs :wink:

I have often wondered about the birth weight and other issues which I have assumed I was never socialized to recognize the significance of because I am not a woman. But I thought it would be handy to have perhaps one of those sliding card devices to tell the uninitiated such as myself how we are supposed to respond to the reported numbers for birth weight, labor times, contraction intervals, dilation metrics and so on. Of course, these days it would perhaps be better to have it as an iPhone app. I have considered starting a thread to gather data for just such a thing.

How weird would that be?

Woman:“My son weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces…”

Man: pulls out iPhone with BabyWeightApp or info card “Oh, what a normal sized baby!”

I’m cracking myself up picturing people walking around with cheat-sheets for everything.

Paper or plastic? IPhone App!
Fries or baked potato? IPhone App!

I’ve always assumed it was just conversation making about the baby, perhaps as as a subconscious expression of genuine interest in a matter of great importance in someone’s life. I can’t imagine that the actual answer is usually all that interesting (neglecting the outliers), but what else are you going to ask about the baby? The baby hasn’t spoken yet; it doesn’t have hobbies; it doesn’t have job or relationship concerns… It’s pretty much got two parameters, a height and weight, and otherwise it’s a baby.

(If you know the person well enough, maybe you can get into the details of the delivery and whatnot, but that’s seems like a different situation.)

I think it’s mostly a convention of small talk. When someone says they had a baby, for politeness you can’t say what you really think, i.e.“Why the hell do I care? Did you catch the Red Wings game?”

You are required to feign interest,But since you are dealing with something who’s greatest qualities are basically those of modeling clay and a leaky trash bag, you are forced to resort to the basics of existence. “What is the mass of the object” “What are it’s spatial dimensions?”,“What is it’s volumetric displacement?”

I did, actually. They lost. And if the baby happens to be Canadian or European, he might just end up playing for them one day, so you should care!

I think this is even funnier than the cheat sheets!

Pretty much what others have said. It’s a newborn baby - it doesn’t have a lot of individual qualities. It’s got a gender, a name, and a birthweight.

This is why you should always try to be one of the first three people to comment on a birth announcement. The fourth person is really stuck for something to say.

Well, without a cheat sheet, how are you supposed to know what to do with these statistics? “Five pounds? Well, um, what was the target mass, and what might you do to improve your attenuation next time?”

Hmm, never even occurred to me that weight is being used to visualize the birth. Then again, I’m from a family that sticks exclusively to c-sections and adoptions.

I agree and I’m pissed that ultrasound tests have taken two-thirds of what we can ask away from us! The parents (and therefore everyone else) already know the gender and often the name. I hate that rather than the father getting on the phone or running to the waiting room all excited with “It’s a girl!” now they just say, “Heather’s here.” Kind of leaves the rest of us like, “Um, okay. Did you catch that Red Wings game?” All we have left is the kid’s weight.

Not everyone wants to know the sex, my wife did not ask for our 2 kids. The Dr. won’t tell you if you don’t want to know.

I love this. I am going to be asking my friend this when she has her baby this summer. We’re dorks.

I really hope you’re joking here… If god forbid I ever had a kid on the way, I would want to know as much as possible about its development, and all the better that these tests can provide more answers.

That’s something I still don’t get. I started a IMHO thread about that a couple years ago and nobody was able to explain the reasoning of not wanting to know.

The SDMB has proven to me once again that I am totally out of touch with current social conventions of meaningless conversation. Damn AS.

An unusually high weight can also signify that The Mother Was Right about when she got pregnant.

Nowadays with ultrasounds you’re unlikely to get such a huge discrepancy, but my mother’s first ObGyn swore up and down that she couldn’t have gotten pregnant when she thought she did, it must have been at least 6 weeks later (by which time she’d been having morning sickness for more than a month); same for one of my father’s cousins. Both pregnancies involved contractions which the ObGyn claimed were “early” being stopped medically, both ended up producing overlarge babies after very-complicated deliveries (24h in my case, cesarean after 20h in my cousin’s case, in both cases the birthwaters were “past their use-by date”).

I ask because I am genuinely interested in babies and their attributes, the main one at birth being their size. I may be the only one.