Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Breast-Feeding: Baby's Poor Weight Gain - Topic Overview

Most infants lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first week. A baby's weight decreases from the normal loss of fluid, urine, and stool. Babies also get few calories from early breast-feeding patterns. Their bodies have special fat stores for this early time. Normally, feeding sessions in the first few days, although frequent, are short. Feedings gradually get longer and the baby gets more calorie-rich milk. After 2 weeks, most infants have gained back the lost weight and continue to gain weight steadily.

Poor weight gain is when a baby:

  • Loses more than 10% of his or her birth weight in the first week.
  • Hasn't reached his or her birth weight by 2 weeks of age.
  • Gains weight too slowly after 2 weeks of age.

Poor weight gain in an infant may be due to:

  • Poor breast-feeding technique.
  • Not breast-feeding often enough.
  • Not breast-feeding long enough.
  • Not breast-feeding from both breasts.
  • Poor let-down reflex.
  • The mother's limited milk supply because of tobacco use, moderate to heavy alcohol use, or certain types of medicines or birth control pills.
  • Keeping a strict breast-feeding schedule rather than feeding on demand.

Typically, more frequent breast-feeding (every 1½ to 2 hours) usually solves the problem. If it does not, ask your doctor or a lactation consultant for help. Sometimes extra feedings with formula are recommended. Formula feedings for breast-fed infants are often given through a specially designed, thin plastic tube (supplemental nursing system). The tube is placed next to the nipple during breast-feeding. If supplementation is necessary, it is best to use methods other than bottle-feeding. Also, pump your breasts several times a day to help keep up and increase milk production.

A baby usually only needs to be hospitalized for poor weight gain if he or she is severely undernourished, is dehydrated, or has other health problems.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 12, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Breast-Feeding: Baby's Poor Weight Gain Topics

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
Article
look at my hand
Slideshow
 
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
young boy with fever
Article
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections