Maternal gestational weight gain (GWG) is an important determinant of infant birth weight, and having adequate total GWG has been widely recommended. However, the association of timing of GWG with birth weight remains controversial. We aimed to evaluate this association, especially among women with adequate total GWG. In a prospective cohort study, pregnant women’s weight was routinely measured during pregnancy, and their GWG was calculated for the ten intervals: the first 13, 14–18, 19–23, 24–28, 29–30, 31–32, 33–34, 35–36, 37–38 and 39–40 weeks. Birth weight was measured, and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) and large-for-gestational-age were assessed. Generalized linear and Poisson models were used to evaluate the associations of GWG with birth weight and its outcomes after multivariate adjustment, respectively. Of the 5049 women, increased GWG in the first 30 weeks was associated with increased birth weight for male infants, and increased GWG in the first 28 weeks was associated with increased birth weight for females. Among 1713 women with adequate total GWG, increased GWG percent between 14 and 23 weeks was associated with increased birth weight. Moreover, inadequate GWG between 14 and 23 weeks, compared with the adequate GWG, was associated with an increased risk of SGA (43 (13·7 %) v. 42 (7·2 %); relative risk 1·83, 95 % CI 1·21, 2·76). Timing of GWG may influence infant birth weight differentially, and women with inadequate GWG between 14 and 23 weeks may be at higher risk of delivering SGA infants, despite having adequate total GWG.