If you have a newborn in your home and you are breastfeeding your little one, you no doubt have wondered about whether you are supplying sufficient milk for the baby – is he growing properly, is he putting on enough weight? Am I overfeeding my baby, is he underfed?
Newborn babies are naturally weighed at birth and measured, and at further check-ups as well. In fact, weight is the one aspect that will check whether your baby is growing or faltering in growth.
Table of Contents
- Pay More Attention to The baby’s Weight and Breastfeeding
- Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start
- Bottom line – breast is best
- Baby formulas have sufficient nutrients too
- But what if I am breastfeeding and Baby is not gaining sufficient weight – maybe I am over feeding him!
- So what does cause a baby to gain weight faster than what is normal in a baby that is breastfed exclusively?
- How I can help to prevent my child from becoming overweight?
- Monitor your baby’s intake of feeds by the following signs
- Look at these AVERAGE weight gain tables
- When all is said and done, look at the baby and not the scale
- Be content that your baby is content
Pay More Attention to The baby’s Weight and Breastfeeding
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start
Baby at 2-4 days old
At this time, it will be perfectly natural for a baby who is breastfed to lose some weight. Often this is because a new mother’s milk only appears or ‘comes in’ after a baby is a few days old already. But nature is wonderful and prepared and has equipped a baby well for this. You might find a baby loses weight from around 5-7% in his weight. Some weight loss is acceptable and further research would be required. But say now Baby has lost bodyweight higher than 5-7% of his bodyweight, and is showing signs of not gaining any further weight after those 2, 3 or 4 days, then you could be in contact with your treating doctor or a specialist in breastfeeding. He will discuss your breastfeeding schedule with you.
After some days have passed and there appears that Baby’s milk has arrived
You can expect Baby’s weight to gain by around 30-40 g every day in his first 3 months. This means your baby is developing well and growing. From between 3 and 6 months, this will slow down a bit again where you can expect to see average gains of around 20 g per day.
At around 2-weeks old, the accepted norm would be that your baby should have regained his birth weight. If a baby has lost a bit of weight and has been sick or even premature, it can take about 3 weeks for him or her to catch up and to be back to his birth weight.
At around 4 months old
Your baby’s weight gain will start to look a little different between babies that are breastfed and the formula fed ones. Research today shows that there is a difference between breastfed babies and formula-fed babies. So many charts show a babies growth only for the formula-fed babies and sometimes the breast feeding moms are left wondering about their babies growth. WHO – the World Health Organization have developed growth charts for breast fed babies as well but not all doctors use these when they make their assessments. You need to make it clear to your doctor which feeding method you use so when the charts come out, your baby’s weight is assessed according to which feeding method you are using.
Bottom line – breast is best
It is up to you as a mother which method you are choosing to feed your baby – breastfeed or formula feed – it’s a big decision parents will make, and it will depend on many factors – health, career, and lifestyle.
Many health organizations do recommend that breastfeeding is best for a baby; it helps defend him from allergies, infections and protects him against many chronic conditions.
It is recommended that a baby is breastfed for his first 6 months and beyond that, it is encouraged to at least 12 months and longer if it is at all possible. Experts believe that nature’s breast milk is the best choice when it comes to nutrition. Premature babies certainly benefit from being breastfed. Breast milk is often called the “perfect food” for babies; it supports their digestive system, helping them much better with problems such as diarrhea or constipation.
Baby formulas have sufficient nutrients too
However, the FDA – U.S. Food and Drug Administration does regulate the baby formula companies to also ensure that baby formulas have all the required nutrients which include vitamin D in the formulas. But still, the commercial formulas don’t ever match the composition of natural breast milk. Why so? Because breast milk is a living substance provided by each mother for her infant – it’s impossible to duplicate this in a factory.
But what if I am breastfeeding and Baby is not gaining sufficient weight – maybe I am over feeding him!
Sometimes the breastfed babies do gain weight faster than the formula fed babies in the first 2-3 months. But then it tapers off, usually between the ages of 9-12 months. Mothers of breastfed babies don’t have to worry that big breastfed babies mean big adults. There is actually research which indicates that the breast fed babies are the ones that are less likely to be obese as children or adults than the formula-fed ones. Those babies who gain a bit of extra weight do actually start to slim down once they start getting really active, like as in crawling, pulling themselves up, running, walking, etc. – that in fact the fat provided for them in their infancy years is there to provide them with plenty of energy when they are so active in the toddler years.
Remember, breast milk is the perfect food. Remember too that with breast milk, there are no just empty fillers or calories. Fat and calories from breast milk is not affected by mom’s diet either, although mom can maybe change what type of fats will be in her breast milk. She can change what she eats. See if relate it to this. An important note here is that as a mom, you should never limit your baby’s feeds if you think he is putting on too much weight. It is simply that your baby needs those very important nutrients for proper growth and certainly his brain development.
So what does cause a baby to gain weight faster than what is normal in a baby that is breastfed exclusively?
There are a couple of factors that can determine this:
. Genetics: If you have older children, did they also gain weight quicker when they infants? And what about your mother and father? Are you and your husband both large in size? What about the other family members?
. Plenty of breast milk: Having an over-abundant supply of milk might well result in a baby gaining weight more rapidly than the norm. But over-supply is not such a concern unless it proves to be a problem for mom or the baby.
You should also be aware that it is rare that breast fed babies who have gained more than their normal weight are connected to health conditions such as heart failure, endocrine disorders or renal problems. Breast feeding is even more important then.
The best thing that you can do is to lessen his chances of becoming overweight as a toddler, a teenager and an adult is to breastfeed for as long as you possibly can.
- It is advised in breastfeeding moms to avoid solids for Baby for his first 6 monthes. This is helpful for those babies who have families where there is obesity and even allergies. Once you do start your baby on solid foods, add them in slowly. Breast feed the baby first, before offering him solids. Make sure that most of his calorie intake comes from breastmilk right through to the end of his first year.
- Don’t force your baby to continue eating when he isn’t hungry.
- When Baby starts becoming active, give him plenty of opportunity to be active; to play and move around.
- As he becomes older, set your baby good examples of eating healthily and exercising.
Monitor your baby’s intake of feeds by the following signs
Should a baby have any health problems, then weight checks might be scheduled more frequently by the doctor. If you don’t have a scale at home, you can monitor baby’s intake of food in these ways:
- After baby’s first week, a newborn should have at least 5-7 wet nappies a day with about 3-4 dirty nappies (this can change also with time with formula fed babies having fewer bowel movements than the breastfed babies).
- Monitor Baby’s intake of milk by observing if he seems satisfied after feeding for some time (also bearing in mind that some babies seem to just want to feed all the time!)
Look at these AVERAGE weight gain tables
|Age of baby||APPROXIMATE AVERAGE weight gain|
|0-4 months||5.5-8.5 ounces per week|
|4-6 months||3.25-4.5 ounces per week|
|6-12 months||1.75-2.75 ounces per week|
When all is said and done, look at the baby and not the scale
So many moms whose babies look healthy and happy and who have nursed well and met their developmental milestones, still lose confidence in their breastfeeding abilities. They seem to believe that everything revolves around looking at the weight charts and not looking at how content baby is.
There is not a general agreement on what normal weight gain for a baby is. Some babies are just destined to be smaller or larger than others. For example, if someone asked you what you would expect a 33-year old man to weigh, you might laugh because the range of possibilities would be so huge. You would straight away look at height, ethnicity, bone structure, genes, etc. And yet we expect babies to fit and measure up to the growth charts distributed around the country. We seem to have no regard to a baby’s genetics or the feeding choices a mom has opted for.
Yes, there can be breastfeeding problems which might slow down weight gain such as “latching on” which can be a problem and one which can cause slow weight gain. Your pediatrician will help you with this. Fact is, too many babies and their moms lose out on the breastfeeding experience and all its benefits just because doctors are more looking at the scale than the baby.
Many times, mothers are urged to supplement because they believe they don’t have sufficient milk – that baby is hungry and losing weight. But there is no need to do anything but to try and nurse more often. A thirsty baby will eventually nurse strongly.
Generally speaking, those babies who are breastfeeding, who have clear urine, who produce wet and dirty diapers in their first weeks of life are on the right track. The older babies from around 4-12 months will grow at varying rates and weight gain shouldn’t be used as the major criteria for determining good or bad health.
Don’t be persuaded just to supplement babies who are doing well. Rather, get help with your breastfeeding, and try other things beside baby’s weight to guide you. Then you can be assured that it won’t be such a weighty problem for you.