Baby Care

Slow weight gain in babies: When to be concerned

As mothers, women have several concerns. One of them is wanting the baby to gain weight. Seeing your baby put on some weight is important as it one of the several markers of a breastfed baby’s excellent health. However, not all babies put on weight quickly even if breastfeeding is part of your daily activities. When you notice that your baby is still tiny, you start having many questions. You wonder why your baby is not gaining weight or if slow weight gain in newborns is normal. Read on to find out why poor weight gain in babies happens.

As a new mom, you must be taking hospital trips often. Whether it is check your baby’s health in general or to see if your newborn is gaining weight. HealthShots consulted Dr Santosh Kumar, consultant – pediatrician and neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Banashankari, Bengaluru, to find out why a breastfed baby gains weight slowly at times.

Slow weight gain in babies can happen due to many reasons. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Reasons for slow weight gain in babies

A perfectly healthy newborn might gain weight slowly because of his or her individual and distinct growth pattern, says Dr Kumar. In other cases, there is an issue that may or may not be obvious.

1. Lack of regular feeding

It is recommended that babies, especially those younger than one month, be fed at least two to three times a day.

2. Your baby is not latching correctly during breastfeeding

During breastfeeding, if your baby is not latching in the correct manner, it means that the attachment isn’t proper. Without a good latch, your baby won’t be able to take the feed properly (signs of a good latch).

3. Discomfort during breastfeeding

If your baby experiences any form of discomfort during the breastfeeding session, the little one might develop an aversion toward it.

4. Delay in onset of breastfeeding milk production

Diet during breastfeeding plays a significant role in making sure you and your baby are healthy. It can also be one of the reasons why you experience a delay in the onset of breastfeeding milk production. This obviously impacts how well the baby can be fed when required.

5. Short breastfeeding sessions

Short breastfeeding sessions can lead to the loss of important nutrients. So make sure that one breastfeeding session lasts for 15 to 20 minutes.

How much weight should babies gain?

All mothers want to know that their child is growing normally. One way to be certain is to compare your baby’s weight gain to the average weight gain of newborns his or her age. But the expert says that the answer to the question “What is typical weight gain?” is complicated. The average growth varies between baby girls and boys, breastfed and formula-fed newborns, different ethnic groups, the time during which the increase occurred, and the baby’s age. When a baby is growing properly, World Health Organization charts suggest that weight gains of 30 to 40 grams per day can be expected in the first three months. This slows to an average growth rate of 20 grams per day after three to six months.

baby slow weight gain
A good latch plays an important role in baby’s weight gain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What happens if your baby has poor weight gain?

If everything else is in order and your baby is still not gaining weight at the recommended rate, doctors might recommend formula feeding. If your newborn is unable to consume enough breast milk or formula, the number of calories in his or her meal might be increased through other means. If there are additional health issues causing your baby’s slow growth, a professional will work immediately to identify a diagnosis and provide your child with the appropriate therapy. So, make it a point to consult a pediatrician.

Tips to make your baby gain weight

1. Ensure good latching

Latching properly doesn’t come naturally to all babies. They should be made comfortable around the hour of breastfeeding and eased into the process with help from the mother. For this, you can move to a calm and quiet environment. Do remember that a good and effective latch should not be painful for your otherwise that’s not good for the breastfeeding process.

2. Don’t over-stress yourself

You will be most concerned if your baby is not gaining weight at a normal rate. If this happens then you should first not stress yourself too much. Many mothers find that if they give up duties and activities for two or three days, their milk supply improves and in turn the baby gains weight.

3. Increase skin-to-skin contact

When your baby is not nursing, you should hold your little one to your chest, which is called skin-to-skin contact. This will assist you in being more responsive to your baby’s feeding cues. According to the expert, full-term newborns should consume 40 to 60 mil of breast milk or formula every three hours or so.

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