Most infants lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first week.
A baby's weight decreases from the normal loss of fluid, urine, and stool.
Babies also get few calories from early breastfeeding patterns. Their bodies
have special fat stores for this early time. Normally, feeding sessions in the
first few days, although frequent, are short. Feedings gradually get longer and
the baby gets more calorie-rich milk. After 2 weeks, most infants have gained
back the lost weight and continue to gain weight steadily.
Poor weight gain is when a baby:
Loses more than 10% of his or her birth weight in
the first week.
Hasn't reached his or her birth weight by 2 weeks
The mother's limited milk
supply because of tobacco use, moderate to heavy alcohol use, or certain types
of medicines or birth control pills.
Keeping a strict
breastfeeding schedule rather than feeding on demand.
Typically, more frequent breastfeeding (every 1½ to 2 hours) usually
solves the problem. If it does not, ask your doctor or a lactation consultant
for help. Sometimes extra feedings with formula are recommended. Formula
feedings for breastfed infants are often given through a specially designed,
thin plastic tube (supplemental nursing system). The tube is placed next to the
nipple during breastfeeding. If supplementation is necessary, it is best to
use methods other than bottle-feeding. Also, pump your breasts several times a
day to help keep up and increase milk production.
A baby usually only needs to be hospitalized for poor weight gain if
he or she is severely undernourished, is dehydrated, or has other health
Other Places To Get Help
La Leche League International
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Women's Health
Furman L, Schanler RJ (2012). Breastfeeding. In CA Gleason, SU Devaskar, eds., Avery's Diseases of the Newborn, 9th ed., pp. 937-951. Philadelphia: Saunders.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology