Slow weight gain | breastfedbabies

Some babies tend to gain weight more slowly than others. However, slow weight gain can mean that your baby is unwell or baby isn’t getting enough milk to grow. Most newborn babies to lose weight at first and then go back to birth weight when baby is around two weeks old. The rate of weight gain you can expect varies depending on the baby’s age:

  • 2 weeks to 4 months - 125-200g (5-8oz)per week
  • 4 to 6 months - 50-150g (2-6oz)per week
  • 6 to 12 months - 25-75g (1-3oz)per week

Signs that your baby may not be getting enough milk are:

  • poor or slow weight gain
  • less than six wet nappies a day
  • dirty nappies that are dark and dry (after the first four days, breastfed babies usually have at least two mustard coloured soft, runny stools each day)

Solving the problem

  • Ask your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding counsellor to carry out a feeding assessment and check your baby’s positioning and attachment.
  • Offer your baby breastfeeds frequently (at least 8-10 times a day) and let him feed for as long as he wants. If your baby tends to fall asleep at the breast, feed him in skin-to-skin contact and switch breasts during the feed to keep him awake and to encourage your milk supply.
  • If your baby is not able to feed well from the breast, he will need to be fed expressed breastmilk. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding counsellor about expressing (also see our section on expressing milk). Expressing will help stimulate your milk supply and will help your baby get the energy he needs to breastfeed well and get back on track. You may only need to express for a few days and then return to full breastfeeding.

Things to avoid

  • Giving your baby a dummy. This will mean that he is spending time sucking a dummy when he should be at the breast receiving milk and stimulating your milk supply
  • Trying to limit the number of feeds your baby gets and how long they last. This will mean that your milk supply is not well stimulated.
  • Feeding from one breast only at each feed. Your milk supply will be stimulated better if you feed from both breasts. Your breastmilk changes during the course of a feed but as long as you always let the baby decide when he's had enough he'll get what he needs.