Weight loss is expected shortly after a baby is born. However, if it continues for a long period, it is important to find out its cause and do something to stop it. Here are 5 reasons your baby is not gaining weight and suggestions on how to stop it.
1. Underfeeding. This is considered to be the most common cause of poor weight gain in babies. Babies, especially newborn babies, need to eat every two and a half hours, or roughly eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period. But when a baby does not eat so regularly, the mother’s body is not stimulated to increase supply, which may result in the baby not getting enough nutrients. This in turn may leave the baby too tired to eat.
Experts suggest that the best way to prevent underfeeding is to make sure the baby feeds frequently enough. The mother should rub her baby’s feet to rouse him from sleep rather than letting him drift off too soon on her breasts or she can remove him from her breasts to wake him and latch him back on.
2. Tongue-tie. When a baby suffers from tongue-tie it means that the piece of skin that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth (the lingual frenulum) is abnormally thick or short, thereby restricting the movement of the tip of the tongue and making it difficult for the baby to feed.
Research shows that the problem of tongue-tie can be remedied during an outpatient procedure, where the pediatrician or specialist clips the frenulum.
3. Poor formula mixing. Some mothers are unaware of the fact that diluting a baby’s formula with too much water can deprive the baby of the adequate amount of calories or the right combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates he needs.
Mothers have thus been advised to correctly follow instructions when preparing formula for their babies.
4. Premature babies. Experts say babies born between 34 and 37 weeks, known as “late preterm,” may find it difficult to breastfeed because they are not as developed as full-term babies. This inevitably results in weight loss.
The best way to prevent weight loss in “late preterm” babies is to combine nursing, pumping, and supplementing with formula at least until the baby gets used to sucking and swallowing. There are also lactation consultants who specialize in premature babies that can help you plan how best to feed your baby.
5. Reflux or allergies. Excessive reflux may result in your baby spitting up food and fussing too much after nursing and this may interfere with a baby’s breast-or bottle-feeding. Similarly, when a baby has allergies, including coughing, sneezing, difficulty in breathing, it results in weight loss. The baby becomes fussy, uncomfortable and reluctant to eat.
Although most babies outgrow reflux on their own between ages 1 and 18 months, experts say that feeding your baby in an upright position and burping him more frequently can prevent weight loss in this kind of situation. Also, having a talk with your pediatrician can help.