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Thread: 4 mo not eating long or gaining weight

  1. #1

    Default 4 mo not eating long or gaining weight

    Hi all. This is my first time posting on the board and am hoping I can find some encouragement and advice. I apologize right off the bat for this being long! Trying to be concise but include as much helpful info as possible.

    My 4 mo (he'll be 4 mo this Sat) has been exclusively breastfed with no problems since he was born. He has never been one to stay on the breast for long periods of time (except when I nurse him at night) but in the past few weeks he's really shortened his nursing times to 4 mins on the dot. Sometimes I can get him to go back on and he may eat for a couple more mins and sometimes he'll eat for a couple more mins on the other side, but he hasn't taken any good feedings in weeks. He just gets so distracted and wants to smile and talk and chew on his hand, etc.

    His "schedule" was feeding about every 3 to 3.5 hours or if he ever acted hungry before then, but he rarely did. He's a very happy baby - only fusses when he's tired, smiles all the time, is about a month or two ahead developmentally. He sleeps well during the day (usually two one-hour+ naps and a catnap) and only wakes up once at night after I give him a dreamfeed around 11. His output is great - at least 6 soaked and 1-2 dirty diapers a day.

    So I just assumed that maybe he eats so efficiently that he fills his tummy in 5 mins but wanted to get him weighed to be sure so 2 weeks ago I weighed him at our pediatrician's office and he only weighed in at 12lb 14oz (and he weighed 12lb even at his 2 mo appt). Over the course of the last two weeks he's only gained 4 oz.

    Here are his weights:
    Birth - 8lb 9oz
    1 week - 8lb 12oz
    1 mo - 10lb 4oz
    2 mo - 12lb
    3 mo 2 wk - 12lb 14oz
    3 mo 4 wk - 13lb 2oz

    Here's what I've tried:
    I tried shortening the times between feedings to squeeze in an extra nursing session but then he only eats for a couple minutes. I've tried lengthening them to close to 4 hours apart and maybe helped a bit but that's what I did last week and obviously it didn't show on the scales. I nurse him without tv/radio/computer and have tried it in total darkness and that helps sometimes but most of the time he just simply won't eat anymore. Oh and I'm very confident that it's not a problem with my supply because my breasts still feel full after he eats (and I know how they should fill as drained). (Although just in the past day I've noticed my supply dropping since he isn't demanding as much so now i'm working to get it back up).

    I haven't tried pumping and offering him the bottle yet for a couple reasons. One is that he hates the bottle. We tried getting him to take it from 3 weeks to when I was going back to work when he was 12 weeks old and he finally took it at 11 weeks when we discovered he has to have the nipple warm too (and rewarmed several times during the feeding!). Even when he did take it, though, he wouldn't take more than 3-4 oz while I was at work for 7 days (I'm at home now full time). Another reason is I'm afraid that maybe he prefers a faster flow (like the first 4 mins of my initial letdown) and then doesn't want to work to get more so stops eating, so I don't want to reinforce that preference with a bottle. I also haven't tried it because I think my milk has too much lipase- as it smells sour shortly after pumping (even if I freeze it immediately, when I warm it back up it smells sour). If I scald it so that it isn't sour anymore well then the taste is different so he doesn't like it that way, either.

    So, where should we go from here? Try to fit in more feedings (even though he hasn't responded well to that already and just eats less at each feeding)? Supplement with a few ounces of formula after each feeding? Rice cereal? As I'm sure many of you can understand, the thought of supplementing with formula terrifies and devastates me - what if he prefers it and then doesn't want the breast anymore? But of course if that's what it takes to get him the calories he needs.

    Btw, his dr. is not much help - she's referring him on to a clinic specializing in growth issues but we won't be able to get in until late next week. Also, our lactation consultant said she hasn't seen this case before so she didn't have any recommendations either. So I greatly appreciate any help you all can give!!

    Not sure if I captured all of the pertinent info just ask if I'm missing anything.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 4 mo not eating long or gaining weig

    Welcome to the forum, mama!

    Based on the weights you've posted, I am thinking that there's no problem here. Baby is developing normally, seems happy and healthy, has been gaining weight (as opposed to losing it) and has more or less been cruising up the middle of the weight-for-age chart (see http://kellymom.com/babyconcerns/growth/chart2.html). It's very normal for a breastfed baby to gain weight relatively rapidly in the first few months and then slow down as he approaches the middle of his first year. As a baby becomes more mobile, he starts putting his calories into action instead of packing them on as fat. Active babies, who reach motor milestones early, may begin to "lean out" faster than their more passive peers. So if your baby is now reaching/rolling/rocking, that could explain some of the slow-down in weight gain.

    Another thing that could explain the slow-down in weight gain is that growth is not smooth, despite what the curves on the chart may make you believe. Some months a baby will spurt up in height and pause in weight, or vice versa. As long as growth is continuing in some dimension, it's still very much in the normal realm. You always want to see continued growth on head circumference, and then weight or height, to some extent.

    When you want a brestfed baby to gain weight, the best thing you can do is to nurse more frequently. Feed him every 2-3 hours, or more frequently if he wants it. Stretching feedings out is not good for weight gain, even though the baby may seem to take in a larger "meal" when he goes a long time between feedings. Frequent feedings generally lead to increased milk intake- if baby takes 2 oz every 2 hours, it may seem like he's not eating much but it beats taking 3 oz every 4 hours, IYKWIM.

    In your shoes, I would not worry overmuch. I would just nurse more, stay away from formula, and maybe seek some second opinions from pediatricians and lactation consultants.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 4 mo not eating long or gaining weig

    Thanks for the reassurance, mommal! I am trying not to worry but my husband and his family and wanting us to put him on formula ASAP so I'm getting a lot of pressure and little encouragement. They're worried that if we "mess around" too long then we could be hurting his brain development. Do you not think that only gaining 4 oz in 2 weeks is worrisome? I'm with you on the charts and slowing of weight gain (esp since he's been rolling over since 10.5 weeks) but I would think his weekly weight gain still needs to be in the recommended range of 3-6 or 4-8 (I've seen both).

    Going to feed him more frequently and give another lactation consultant a call today. Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: 4 mo not eating long or gaining weig

    Good advice from PP .

    Sorry your family isn't very supportive. My DH is from a family that FF -- so I know where you are coming from. For us, it's reassuring to watch for the wet/dirty diaper count. That means the LO is getting enough intake... even if his nursing sessions are short. And, remember, as babies get more practice at nursing...they do become more efficient at draining the breast quickly .

    If it makes you feel better -- stop weighing the LO so frequently! I worried when I checked and there was no change or minimal increase -- so rather than checking every week... I just compared it every month or two (see my LO's gain below)

    Birth 7lb 8oz
    1 mo 10lb 5oz
    2 mo 12lb 12oz
    4 mo 15lb 4oz
    6 mo 17lb
    9 mo 18lb 12oz
    3/2011 {EBF to 6mos, now BF and BLS, CD, EC'ing since 5mos - in underwear at 11mos, and babywearing}
    Babywearing International has chapters - see if there's one near you... most have lending libraries!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Fortine, MT

    Default Re: 4 mo not eating long or gaining weig

    It seems as if your getting a good diaper output. It also seems that your baby is pretty active. Some babies are just petite. I have a friend who has a nine month old and he weighs about 16lbs. and another friend whose six month old weighs 12lbs.. They are just petite little things. Does he nurse longer when he dream feeds at nap time? I think your doing fine and I also think that you in-laws should try and be more supportive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 4 mo not eating long or gaining weig

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*elisabetsey View Post
    If it makes you feel better -- stop weighing the LO so frequently! I worried when I checked and there was no change or minimal increase -- so rather than checking every week... I just compared it every month or two (see my LO's gain below)
    People- and this includes doctors, who should know better- often expect growth to proceed at a steady pace in all directions. But that's not necessarily how it works. You get periods of time where your kid will spurt up in height and become slimmer, or plateau in height and chub out- and that doesn't stop with babies. It happens throughout childhood and adolescence. If you zoom in too closely on the data, you can miss the overall trend of normal growth.

    It sounds like your doctor is concerned, though I have no idea why. Highly active happy baby who is producing normal diaper output and meeting all developmental milestones on schedule or ahead of same should = healthy baby, regardless of what the charts say about his weight. Which doesn't seem low, FTR! It's not like your baby has dropped off the chart or something, he's just in the lower half of the chart. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's not like a test, where everyone who scores below 50 fails.

    I'd really want a second opinion on this one. Maybe call your local LLL and ask for a recommendation for a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician in your area?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: 4 mo not eating long or gaining weig

    Hey mama, as usual great advice from Mommal. I just wanted to share with you that my Ds2 gained 5 oz in TWO MONTHS! it was shocking to me and my pedi suggested a million weird solutions. I ended up switching docs and now have an amazing doc whom we . Anyway he has a tendency to spout off, but in essence what he says is, watch diaper output and milestones. Why do we get so obsessed with fat babies and a year later are obsessed with being too fat? Babies come in all sizes and can all be healthy. Watching other cues is a much better indicator as to the health of your child than simply the scale.
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

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