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Breast Feeding

Weight Gain, Slow

This article is an excerpt from "The Nursing Mother's Problem Solver" by Claire Martin.

Q: Should I be concerned about my daughter's weight gain? She weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces at birth. Now she's 8 months old and weighs about 13-1/2 pounds. My doctor is concerned that she's not gaining enough weight, even though she nurses 3 or 4 times a night and eats 3 jars of baby food a day.

A: Some babies are slow to gain weight. The weight charts used at pediatricians' offices are based on formula-fed babies. Several studies have shown that breastfed babies don't follow the same growth curve-their growth and weight gain starts tapering off, relative to the charts' growth curve, at about 6 months.

Part of the reason for your baby's relatively slow weight gain could be her increasing level of activity. She's crawling, cruising, and starting to be interested in pulling herself up. As long as she is producing enough wet and poopy diapers, is alert, and has energy, she's probably fine. A baby is supposed to triples its birth weight at the first year, and she's got a few months to go.

Is your doctor aware that she's primarily breastfed? Is your doctor aware that breastfed and formula-fed babies tend to grow at different rates? (Remember, the cliché is that breastfed babies are long and lean.)

Ask us if she's being weighed on the same scale each time you take her to the office. Different scales can read heavy or light.

Ask us about her growth and weight gain relative to her parents' size and physique. (Does your family, or your husband's, sway toward the small and light?)

And consider the bright side: Small babies use small diapers, which have more to the package, for the same price, as larger-size diapers.


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About the Author

Claire Martin is a parenting writer at the Denver Post. Her writing has won national and regional awards, and has appeared in publications such as the St. Petersburg Times, Good Housekeeping, and Sunset magazine. She lives in Denver with her husband and two daughters, both of whom were breastfed.

From THE NURSING MOTHER'S PROBLEM SOLVER by Claire Martin. Copyright © 2000 by Claire Martin. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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