Losing the Baby Weight: 7 Mistakes to Avoid

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on April 19, 2023
3 min read

As a new mom, getting back in shape takes time. Most women need about 6 weeks to lose half of their baby weight followed by a slower rate over the next 6-12 months to shed the rest.

When you're ready to get started, eat at least 1,800 calories daily. If you’re nursing, add 500 more calories to that. With exercise, you may lose up to 1 pound a week.

You can also help yourself by avoiding these common pitfalls that make it harder to lose that pregnancy weight.

Wanting to lose the weight fast sets you up to make decisions that favor quick results over lasting results.

For instance, you may be tempted by a fad, like eating nothing but grapefruit. You'll lose weight, but drastic diets backfire. You're likely to gain it all back when you start eating normally again.

The fix: Insist on a plan that will deliver lasting results, even if it takes longer than you'd like. Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you pick a weight loss plan that will be worth the time it takes.

Ignore celebrity moms who seem to lose their baby weight overnight. They often hire trainers and chefs to help them along. Also, there's a good chance that some of their weight loss efforts weren't healthy.

The fix: Focus only on your own body. Don't put pressure on yourself to look like someone else. It's about health and what's right for you, not keeping pace with a starlet whose life is very different than yours.

Getting some shut-eye is tough when your little one relies on you day and night. Sleep and weight are linked, though.

Among new moms studied, those who slept 5 hours a night or less were more likely to have at least 11 more pounds to lose by the time their babies were a year old than moms who slept 7 hours a night.

The fix: Take every opportunity to sleep. You'll feel better, and it helps you lose weight. Ask your pediatrician or a sleep coach for advice.

Your baby's bag has everything they need, but did you forget someone?

The fix: Pack food for yourself. Try healthy snacks like part-skim cheese sticks, kale chips, and pouch tuna.

You're busy with your new baby. So it's understandable if it seems easier to skip lunch or dinner.

Don’t make it a habit. Severely limiting calories on a routine basis tricks your body into starvation mode. As a result, your body stores fat instead of burning it -- the opposite of what you want.

The fix: Eat regularly, even if it's not the sort of meal you had time for before you had your baby. Short and simple -- reheated leftovers, a sandwich, a bowl of soup -- is better than nothing at all.

You're going to get frustrated if your goal is too ambitious. Have you given yourself enough time to shed the baby weight?

The fix: Cut yourself some slack. It takes 6 to 12 months to safely get your body back in shape after delivery. And even then, your weight might be distributed differently than it was before your pregnancy.

You're trying to get your chores done, nibbling while you work. It's not your best choice. It's easy to overeat if you're picking from bowls or bags of food.

The fix: Even if your meal is very quick, do your best to sit down and focus on your food during mealtime. Plate your food. Turn off TVs and cell phones. Distracted eaters tend to eat more food in one sitting than people who are paying attention to their food.