Skip to Content
Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Breast-Feeding: Baby's Poor Weight Gain
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 breast-feeding 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:
Poor weight gain in an infant may be due to:
Typically, more frequent breast-feeding (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 breast-fed infants are often given through a specially designed,
thin plastic tube (supplemental nursing system). The tube is placed next to the
nipple during breast-feeding. 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 Works Consulted
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.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Learn how to prevent heart disease and maintain a healthy heart.
Tips, Videos & More »