Slow or Poor Infant Weight Gain
Determining slow or poor infant weight gain
Weight gain is one of many signs of good health in the breastfeeding baby. Sometimes, a perfectly healthy baby simply gains weight slowly because it's just his or her own unique growth pattern. In other situations, there's a problem that may or may not be easy to identify. If your baby isn't gaining weight according to certain patterns, you and your baby should be checked by your health care provider and a certified lactation consultant. To find out whether slow weight gain is your baby's natural growth pattern or the result of something else, your provider will ask you a lot of questions about both you and your baby.
Don't panic if your baby's weight gain is ever a concern. Whether slow weight gain is related to your baby's natural pattern or some other factor, it's almost always best for your baby to continue to breastfeed.
The difference between a "natural" slow gainer and a slow-weight-gain problem
A baby who is a "natural" slow gainer still gains weight steadily, though slowly:
Stays on a particular growth curve
Grows in length and head circumference according to typical rates of growth
Wakes on his or her own and is alert and wants to breastfeed about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. As infants get a little older, they may breastfeed less often.
Has about the same number of wet and dirty diapers as a faster-growing baby
Other factors should be considered when a full-term baby:
Doesn't gain about an ounce per day (30g/day) until 3 months of age
Doesn't gain about 0.67 ounces per day (20g/day) between 3 and 6 months of age
Doesn't regain birth weight by 10 to 14 days after birth
Has a dramatic drop in rate of growth (weight, length, or head circumference) from his or her previous curve
Always talk with your baby's doctor if you need more information.
- Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
- MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician