All babies grow at different rates. For the most part, growth after birth is quick and easy. But some babies don’t gain weight as quickly as expected, even though they may have a healthy appetite. We are concerned about the lack of weight gain as it can lead to issues such as developmental delays, behavioral issues, and difficulty fighting infections. As a parent, when should you start worrying about your baby’s weight?
If growth problems persist over time, it is referred to as “lack of growth”. Your pediatrician will monitor your weight at all appointments with healthy children and let you know if this is a concern for your child. There are three reasons babies don’t gain weight: not eating enough calories, not absorbing calories, or burning too many calories.
Understanding the causes of failure to grow
Full-term infants should drink about 1.5 to 2 ounces of breast milk or formula every 3 hours. Premature babies need more calories than term babies. Some babies have difficulty breastfeeding, have reflux or vomit during feedings, have difficulty staying awake to breastfeed or swallowing.
Other children consume enough calories, but still struggle to gain weight as expected. These children may have difficulty absorbing the food and using the calories they receive. Some bowel problems, such as celiac disease, food allergies, and diarrhea, can prevent babies from using the foods they are given to grow taller.
Finally, some children with a growth deficit use calories very quickly because they have a greater need for calories. This includes children who have to work harder to breathe, who were born early, or who have certain heart abnormalities. These children need the extra calories for proper weight gain.
Ideally, babies should be breast-fed for the first six months for nutrition and energy. The thick, yellow milk of the mother is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that boost immunity, protect them from disease and help them grow taller. In some cases, even when babies are well fed, they gain weight slowly or irregularly. It worries most parents if their child is malnourished. We’ll walk you through what’s causing this slow growth and when you should seek professional help.
Normal growth of the baby
The truth is, there is no set standard for weight gain. All babies gain weight in different ways, but in a consistent pattern that can help you keep track of your development. After birth, babies lose 10% of their weight in the first week, which they regain after a week or two. For the next three months, they gain about 30 grams per day when they are breastfed well. Every baby is different and the weight they will gain is difficult to estimate. But slow or irregular growth is a clear sign that they are not getting enough nutrients.
Reason for slow growth
Newborns should be well fed every 2 to 3 hours. Over time, your belly gets bigger and your eating time decreases. In general, in order to gain weight, your baby’s total calorie intake should be greater than the calorie expenditure. There are several reasons why your baby may not gain weight regularly and the three most important are:
1. Not eating enough calories
The main source of calories for babies is breast milk, and when they don’t get enough calories, their development slows down. This can happen for reasons such as poor adhesion, infrequent breastfeeding, a short breastfeeding session, and insufficient breast milk supply. Feed your baby at regular intervals and keep in mind that over time the breastfeeding session will decrease. If you are not producing enough breast milk, or if you are not getting it properly, see your doctor. They can help you overcome these complications.
2. Not absorbing nutrients
In some cases, even when babies are well fed, their progress is slow. This can happen when they are unable to absorb nutrients from milk due to underlying health issues. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a food allergy or food sensitivity can cause a barrier to nutrient absorption. They may vomit right after breastfeeding. In these cases, do not delay and consult your pediatrician immediately.
3. Burn too many calories
All the calories babies consume are used to support vital body functions or are stored as fat. They don’t do anything specific that can help them burn a lot of calories. But some babies need calories because they quickly metabolize the calories they eat. With premature births, heart disease, or breathing problems, babies need more calories than normal.
When to ask for help
In case of slow growth, see your doctor. They can assess the situation and recommend its effective action to overcome the problem. There are several things you can do to help your baby gain weight.