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Breastfeeding Baby - Slow Weight Gain

Weight gain is one of many signs of good health in the breastfeeding baby. Sometimes, a perfectly healthy baby simply gains weight slowly because it is just his/her own, unique growth pattern. Listed below are some hints that may help.

  1. Make sure your baby is latching on correctly. His/her chin and nose should be far apart and touching your breast. Baby’s lips should be flanged outward (like a trumpet) and not rolled in. The baby's tongue should also “cup” your nipple and areola. A shallow latch can decrease the amount of milk your baby is able to drink and cause soreness.
  2. Listen for swallowing. You should hear a “huh-ah” sound. You should NOT hear a clicking or smacking sound. If you do not hear swallowing, or you do hear clicking or smacking sounds, contact your lactation consultant.
  3. Watch your baby’s jaw. You should see movement in the muscle which runs from the lower jaw to the ear when he is sucking deeply. You should NOT see deep dimpling of his cheeks.
  4. Help your baby maintain a deep latch by supporting your breast from underneath with your hand throughout the feeding. A “C” hold, with your thumb on top and your fingers underneath your breast, gives good support. Use a support pillow so the baby is even with your breasts.
  5. Watch for signs that your baby is ready to feed or suckle. Put your baby to your breast when he/she wants to suck and limit or stop pacifier use.
  6. Once your milk has come in, and any engorgement has lessened, attempt to keep your baby nursing at the first breast for 15 minutes before switching sides. This will increase the amount of high fat/high calorie milk (“hindmilk”) your baby takes in. Avoid nursing on one side for a few minutes, then the other and back again.
  7. Feed frequently – at least every 2-3 hours during daytime and evening hours and at least every 4 hours at night until weight gain improves. If your baby does not breastfeed well, use a breast pump.
  8. Offer a supplement after, or with, feedings using the method recommended by your lactation consultant. This could be by a cup, a supplemental nursing system, a syringe, an eyedropper, a spoon, a bottle, or other method. Many of these methods require that a professional teach you how to use them correctly. Depending on your baby, some will work better than others.
  9. YOUR BABY NEEDS TO BE WEIGHED ON A FREQUENT AND REGULAR BASIS UNTIL HE/SHE IS GAINING WEIGHT AT A SATISFACTORY RATE DETERMINED BY HIS DOCTOR.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2012