Our babies first few years of growth are documented on charts and graphs. While these can be helpful for monitoring healthy growth patterns, when used alone they can also add unnecessary stress and pressure on a breastfeeding family. A baby that doesn’t gain an ounce per day, or is low in the percentiles are often starting bottle supplementation early on and often cut breastfeeding short. There are a few things to consider before getting nervous about your baby’s weight gain.
First, and most importantly, we must consider how we are all different. Humans come in a variety of shapes and sizes, we recognize and appreciate these differences in adults, but when it comes to our infants, we expect them to all fall comfortably in the “average” range. But like adults, some may be shorter, longer, thinner, slow gainers, or rapid gainers. Some babies like small, frequent feeds, some take in large quantities just a few times per day.
Second, many moms are told that their baby should gain 5 to 7 ounces a week, 1 ounce per day, or half and ounce to an ounce per day…there is a lot of “should” out there. But again, these are what the medical community have deemed as average or normal range. (It is interesting that we show no concern about the kiddos in the 95thpercentile, we don’t tell those moms to reduce breastfeeding, nor should we). We can’t all be normal or average!
Third, it not just about weight. Before supplementing, triple feeding, or other interventions, look at the whole picture.
- Does your baby have some alert, wakeful times and wake for feeds?
- Does your baby have frequent wet diapers and stools throughout the day?
- Is your baby hitting developmental milestones?
- Does your baby seem mostly content after and between feeds?
- Does your baby look otherwise healthy?
- Is your baby growing in length and head circumference?
- Is your baby’s weight going up?
If ‘yes’ to these, then you can probably relax, and continue to monitor weight to make sure that it continues to go up. If you are still not sure, get a second evaluation from a provider you trust.