Things to Try When Your Baby Isn’t Gaining Weight
In general, babies should begin gaining weight almost immediately, and at a steady pace. You will notice that in their first few days of life they might lose some weight, but then gain it back quickly over the coming weeks, eventually resembling a tiny Michelin man. Of course, the rate for every baby is different; but it’s important that every infant puts on the pounds at a satisfactory rate.
If you have reason to believe that your baby is not gaining the right amount of weight, speak with your doctor immediately. They will give them a physical exam and ask you some questions to determine if there is something wrong. There are many factors to take into consideration aside from their growth to have an accurate assessment of their health.
Reasons Your Baby Isn’t Gaining Weight
The more common reason that your child is not gaining weight is that they are not eating properly or absorbing nutrients as they should. This can happen when there are feeding issues present; such as your baby not getting enough milk before they get tired or fall asleep, not latching correctly, or not enough breastmilk is being produced.
If they are formula-fed, make sure each bottle is prepared exactly as the label directs. Sometimes, failure to make the formula correctly can mean the baby loses some nutritional value. If you have a set schedule when your child eats, perhaps its time to only feed them when they are hungry. Whenever they indicate that they are hungry, they receive more nutrition. Nurse or bottle feed them when they want and for as long as they want.
It’s also important to remember that if your child is sick, this affects their appetite. It also means that their body needs more nutrients and calories than normal. If none of the reasons mentioned above pertain to your baby, visit your doctor to ensure everything is okay.
3 Ways to Solve This Problem
Before you make any changes to your baby’s diet, speak with their pediatritian to get a second opinion as to whether the approach you’re taking is the right one for your child. They can also advise other ways you can try to help your baby put on some chub!
Here are some strategies to help infants gain weight:
- Supplement Breastfeeding with Formula
Despite mothers’ best efforts, sometimes breastfeeding isn’t a walk in the park. Feeding your baby formula alongside breastmilk will give them the nutrients that they need and make it easier for them to retain the weight gained. This way, they get the best of both worlds – all the benefits of breastmilk as well as enough sustenance to fill them up.
If they are already eating solid foods, give them foods higher in calories such as whole milk products (yogurt, cheese, pudding). Of course, only give solids if the baby is ready – this is because solids contain have fewer calories than breastmilk (or formula) and less baby-essential nutrients.
- Keep Your Child Close
Prolactin increases when you sleep close to your baby. Carrying your little one throughout the day in a baby carrier will also help them gain weight. Experts have shown that this skin to skin contact increases the frequency of nursing and improves weight gain. Also, learn how to give your baby a massage to improve digestion.
- Get the Most From Breastfeeding
Sometimes, a lack of weight gain in an infant can be down to the lack of fat content of the mother’s milk. This isn’t down to anything she’s done wrong; it’s just how her body makes it. However, there has been a few identified ways to change your feeding routine to ensure your baby gets the most fat. This includes:
- Feeding when the breasts are most full. If this occurs during inconvenient times to feed the child, try expressing machines to pump the fatty milk for later.
- A strange fact: breastmilk contains more fat when it’s running in short supply. This means you should ensure your baby drinks until you feel almost empty. If they get tired or full before this happens, get a breast pump to capture the fatty ‘hind milk’ for a bottle feed.
- Feed frequently – this means the breasts don’t have time to fully ‘fill up’ again, meaning the milk will be fattier.
For more information on helping babies gain weight, you can find a great reference here. But remember – if in any doubt – always see a doctor.