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Why is my baby not gaining weight as expected?

Is your baby not gaining weight? Of course you are worried and you are not alone!

babi not gaining weight

Quite a few parents are anxious when their baby does not gain weight as much as they should do.

Often there is no real need for concern. Young infants grow faster than any other period in their life.

There are several reasons your baby may not be growing as fast as other babies. For instance when your baby is prematurely born, does not get enough milk or has a problem digesting the milk.



Make sure you measure the correct weight

But let us first make sure you are not needlessly worried due to some common mistakes. First of all it is important that you use the same scale each time you measure the baby's weight?

  • If a baby weight scale is not regularly maintained, you may not get the correct result. Other factors that may influence the results are, for example, if baby wears different clothing at the time of weighing.
  • Avoid false alarms from clothing, it is better to weigh the infant each time without his clothes.
  • But also the fluctuations in body fluids like a full /empty tummy or bladder may slightly influence the measurements.


If your baby seems perfectly healthy and alert and develops normally, you will probably have nothing to worry about. If your baby does not get enough milk (nutrition) while nursing or bottle feeding, the problem can often easily be solved.

You can quickly check your baby's ideal weight using the charts on our page: How an infant weight chart can help to calculate baby's ideal weight.


Baby not gaining weight when breast feeding

Your baby may not be able to get sufficient milk from your breast if he does not latch-on properly.

You can see in the following video how to get a proper latch.


Avoid strict feeding times and let your baby feed on demand.

It is normal for babies less than 4 months feed 8 to 12 times a day. Frequent feedings will also stimulate your breasts to make more milk.

When babies grow older they are usually satisfied with 6 feedings a day.

If your inverted nipples cause problems with latching-on a breast shell, breast pump or nipple stimulation may help to draw out those flat or inverted nipples. Click here to read more about breastfeeding difficulties.

Some signs your baby may not get enough milk are:

  1. Fewer than 5 wet diapers per day
  2. Less stools
  3. Irritability or listlessness
  4. Unsettled sleep
  5. Sunken fontanel  

Signs a mother may not have enough milk

  1. Baby never seems satisfied after feeding
  2. Baby cries a lot
  3. When expressing there is no milk coming out of her breast
  4. Frustration and refusal to breastfeed


If you think the reason for baby not gaining weight is that you do not have enough breast milk try to get help from a certified lactation consultant.


A great place to find help and reassurance, and a comprehensive resource for all your breast feeding questions, is the book from La Leche Leage International The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 



Baby not gaining weight when bottle feeding

When you don not use the right amount of formula when you prepare baby's milk, and you dilute the milk too much, your baby will not get enough nutrition to grow properly.

A guideline from the American Academy of Pediatrics, is that for every pound of body weight a child should take in approximately 2 1/2 ounces of formula a day.

Poor feeding may also be a result of a bottle nipple that is not the right size for his age or that the hole in the nipple is too small.


Baby not gaining weight eating solids

One of the reasons babies are not gaining weight is when parents start replacing breast or bottle milk with too much fruit juice. Don't let your baby drink more than 8 ounces of juice per day otherwise he will not get enough valuable nutrition to gain weight.

Babies often refuse certain foods when they try it for the first time. They may not like the taste or texture at that time but a few weeks later happily accept it. Do not give up trying to offer healthy foods that are so crucial for your child's development. A baby should learn to eat WHOLESOME BABY FOOD with a variety of foods from all food groups.


Failure to thrive

Doctors refer to failure to thrive when a child's weight or weight gain is notably lower than that of other children of the same age and sex. Read more about using an infant weight chart to track a baby's growth and development.

Conditions that may result in failure to thrive, poor weight gain or weight loss are heart defects, gastroesophageal reflux, hyperthyroidism, cleft lip and metabolic diseases.



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