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Baby’s Failure to Thrive Due to Slow Weight Gain


Is Your Baby’s Slow Weight Gain a Failure to Thrive?

Having a baby is an exhausting, but exhilarating experience. After you have given birth to that tiny creature, your priorities immediately change. You are suddenly consumed with caring for your new baby. You want to see them healthy, growing, and thriving. Being told your baby has a failure to thrive is very concerning.

When your baby isn’t growing, don’t feel like a failure. You’ll want to do everything you can to get your baby back on track and gaining weight.

If you’re worried about your new baby’s weight gain, read below for some tips to help. We want to help you determine if there actually is a problem. Rest assured, most babies will get healthier and gain weight. You should also reach out to your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned about their weight gain.

What is Normal Baby Growth?

It is important to know that every baby grows and develops differently.

Just because your baby isn’t gaining as much weight as other babies you know, isn’t necessarily a reason to be concerned. Also, many babies lose weight within their first few days of life. Therefore, they’ll need to gain it back to get back to their birth weight. Here are some typical milestones most healthy, growing babies meet. But, again, remember that every baby is different.

  • Most pediatricians like to see a baby back at their birth weight within 10 to 14 days after delivery.
  • Many healthy babies double their birth weight by the time they are six months.
  • If your baby isn’t meeting their growth and weight gain milestones, they may be labeled with failure to thrive.
  • Most healthy babies triple their birth weight by one-year-old.

This name definitely sounds worrisome. Many parents who have a baby who is labeled with failure to thrive are rightfully very concerned. But, there are numerous tips and strategies you can try to help if your baby isn’t growing and gaining enough weight.

Reasons Baby Isn’t Gaining Weight

There are various reasons why your baby isn’t growing and gaining enough weight. Again, every baby is different. You’ll need to do some work, observations, and discussions with medical personnel. Determining the exact reason your baby isn’t growing or gaining weight is a process.

Below are some possible causes that you can investigate and discuss with a pediatrician or lactation consultant to help you pinpoint the reason your baby isn’t growing. Below each possible cause for lack of weight gain, we have offered you some suggestions for what you can try to help.

Your Baby isn’t Eating Enough From Each Feeding

A reason your baby isn’t growing could be due to the fact that they aren’t getting enough milk from each feeding.

If you are breastfeeding, this could mean that they aren’t staying latched on long enough to transfer a sufficient amount of milk. It could also be an indication that you may have a low supply of milk and aren’t producing enough milk to give them sufficient calories throughout the day.

If your baby isn’t bottle-fed, you may not be offering them enough at each feeding.

What Can I Do to Help My Baby?

If you are worried that your baby isn’t getting enough milk at each feeding, there are a few things you can try. Don’t immediately assume your baby has a failure to thrive.

First, check with your pediatrician about the amount of food your baby should be getting throughout the day. Then, divide that by the number of times your baby is eating each day. This should give you an idea of how much milk your baby should be getting from each feeding.

Typically, pediatricians recommend that your baby be fed between 2 and 3 ounces of milk for each pound they weigh. However, don’t exceed 32 ounces of milk a day.

So, if your baby weighs six pounds, they should eat between 12 and 18 ounces a day.

If your baby weighs 8 pounds, they should eat between 16 and 24 ounces a day. Most pediatricians recommend that your baby get between 24 and 32 ounces of milk a day once they are a few months old.

Low Breastmilk Supply

If you are worried that low breastmilk supply may be the reason your baby isn’t getting enough milk, first work with a lactation consultant to perform a weighted feed. They can weigh your baby before and after a breastfeeding session to see how much milk they were able to transfer.

If it doesn’t look like they are getting enough milk, there are different things you can try to increase your milk supply. There are supplements that are designed to help increase milk production. Additionally, you can search online for some lactation cookie recipes. Use recipes that are made with ingredients that can lead to more milk being produced.

If your baby isn’t getting enough milk from each feeding and you are breastfeeding, you may need to consider supplementing with some formula. You want to make sure that your baby gets enough milk to be healthy. Once you are able to up your milk supply some, you may be able to cut back on the amount of formula your baby gets each day if you want to try to exclusively breastfeed.

You Aren’t Feeding Your Baby Frequently Enough

If you aren’t feeding your baby enough times during the day, this could also contribute to your baby not gaining enough weight. Babies, especially newborns, have a very tiny stomach and can only hold a little bit of milk at a time. So, they need to eat very frequently, especially during those first few days and months of their lives.

What Can I Do to Help My Baby?

Again, remember that a baby needs somewhere between 2 and 3 ounces of milk for each pound they weigh per day. If you’ve realized that your baby isn’t reaching this total by the end of the day, you’ll want to increase the number of times you a feeding him or her.

Many newborn and very young babies need to eat every 2 hours, often during the night as well. Once your baby is a little older and their stomach can hold more at each feeding, you may be able to spread feedings out a bit more.

Soon, your baby may be able to get enough milk during the day to be able to sleep through the night, or at least sleep for a longer stretch. But, again, every baby is different, and some may need to continue the night feedings for longer than others.

Your Baby Isn’t Latching to Your Breast Well

If your baby isn’t getting a good latch onto your breast, they may not be transferring enough milk. This applies even if it appears they are nursing for a long time. A tongue or lip tie could be a possible reason your baby isn’t able to latch on to your breast.

What Can I Do to Help My Baby?

If you’re not sure if your baby has a good, efficient latch, the best thing to do is to consult with a lactation consultant. They can observe your babies latch and give you suggestions for improvement. As mentioned above, a lactation consultant can also do a weighted feed with your baby. This will determine how much milk they are actually transferring from each session.

If you think your baby’s poor latch may be due to a tongue or lip tie, a pediatrician or lactation consultant should be able to examine your baby’s mouth to determine if there is an issue. If your baby has a tongue or lip tie, it is important to get it fixed as soon as you can. The process for fixing a tongue or lip tie is relatively simple and quick. It will take your baby some time to re-learn how to nurse after having the procedure done.

Your Baby Has a Food Intolerance or Allergy

A reason your baby isn’t growing could be because they have an allergy or intolerance to milk. Some babies have a milk protein intolerance, which means their body can’t absorb the proteins from milk, which could lead to them not gaining enough weight.

What Can I Do to Help My Baby?

If you suspect that a milk intolerance could be the reason your baby isn’t growing, definitely speak to your pediatrician. They can ask you more specific questions to help determine if an intolerance is to blame for your baby not gaining enough weight. Your pediatrician may refer you to an allergist if they suspect there is a food allergy.

An Illness or Other Medical Condition is Causing the Lack of Weight Gain

It is possible that an illness or underlying medical condition could be the reason why your baby isn’t growing. Some possible conditions include acid reflux, chronic diarrhea, celiac disease, metabolic disorders, or problems with your baby’s heart or lungs.

What Can I Do to Help My Baby?

You should always see your baby if you suspect anything is wrong with them. Be sure to keep up with the frequent pediatric visits during the first year of their life. Vaccinating your child following the recommended CDC schedule is also important to prevent your baby from becoming sick.

It can be very concerning when your baby isn’t growing and gaining weight. You are naturally very concerned about their health and want to do whatever you can to help them thrive. Pediatricians and lactation consultants can also be excellent resources to help get your baby on the right track towards reaching a healthy weight and thriving!

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