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Baby Growth Problems: What Should Parents Do?

The typical newborn growth rate is about 1 1/2 pounds and 1 to 1 1/2 inches a month. Every baby grows at a slightly different pace, but babies who lag far behind or who are at the highest end on the growth chart curve will need close follow-up with a pediatrician.

Your pediatrician will evaluate a low-weight baby by asking about the baby's eating habits and general health. "You look at both what comes into the baby, and what comes out of the baby," Cox says.

Your pediatrician might ask you:

  • If you're breastfeeding, how much milk are you producing?
  • How often are you feeding your baby?
  • If you’re breastfeeding, is your baby latching on correctly?
  • Does your baby seem satisfied after each feeding?
  • Has your baby been sick with diarrhea or a fever?

The doctor will check for any medical conditions that might be preventing your baby from eating enough. If your baby isn't growing because you're not producing enough milk, the pediatrician might recommend ways to increase your milk production, or have you supplement with formula.

Babies who are more than six months old can be started on solid foods. Brown recommends calorie-rich foods like eggs and whole-milk yogurt to improve weight gain.

It's rare for a breastfed baby to gain too much weight. Formula-fed babies who are putting on weight too quickly might need to have some adjustments made to their feeding schedule.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you're keeping up with all of your well-baby visits, your pediatrician will make sure that your baby's growth is staying on track. In between visits, call the doctor if your baby:

  • Is refusing to eat or has trouble latching on if you're breastfeeding
  • Always seems hungry, even after feeding
  • Seems unusually sleepy or fussy
  • Throws up large amounts of milk or has diarrhea
  • Produces fewer than six wet diapers a day

Common Baby Feeding Problems

Diet too spicy? Baby spitting up too much? Find out what's normal.
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