Weight Gain in the Breastfed Baby

Do you know what is average weight gain for a breastfed baby?

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Quite often many new mum’s are met with misinformation when it comes to normal growth and development. With the misinformation comes advice that often suggests the mums body is failing her and to either take medication to boost milk production or to give baby formula.

Normal growth for a breastfed baby includes a baby who gain quite rapidly in the first 4 months followed by a slowing down of weight gain as the baby starts to become more active. 

It is important to remember that the assessment of wellbeing is not based on just weight gains though. Along side weight gains, health professionals should be looking at:

  • Nappy output
  • Digestion patterns
  • Gross motor skills
  • Skin tone/fat coverage
  • Baby’s demeanour

IF there is a concern about a baby’s weight pattern then first line management should include a comprehensive oral exam exam and an observation of a complete breastfeed.

Then an investigation into:

  • Gut health (ie: has baby had antibiotic exposure)
  • Food intolerances
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Gross motor milestones
  • General overall behaviour
  • Feeding history (ie: has baby been fussing or biting at the breast, has mum had nipple damage or recurring mastitis).

Only once a baby has had a thorough assessment can a recommendation be made.  The answer to increasing weight gain does not have to be the introduction of artificial baby milk. When we can find the route cause of the reason why a baby is not gaining weight appropriately, then a solution can be found.

There are a number of techniques that can be used to both increase a mother’s milk production and also ensure that the baby is receiving enough milk.  Some of these techniques include:

  • Improving latching technique
  • Breast compressions
  • Super switching
  • Pumping or power pumping
  • Using a supply line at the breast with EBM or donor milk
  • Finger feeding/cup feeding to improve latching and removing the risk of bottle preference.

If you are having concerns regarding your baby’s growth I would encourage you to have a thorough assessment with an IBCLC.

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