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Thread: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

  1. #1
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    Mar 2014
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    Default Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    My 5 month old baby seems to be having even more problems now. He was born 7.5 lbs but is only 13 lbs 2 oz now. We've tried to introduce bottles to him for the longest time but he won't budge. Recently, he's been eating less and less, and only eats when nursed to sleep. I try to feed him whenever I could but he screams and cries as soon as he is lowered onto my arm. We're giving him Zantac now to see if it's silent reflux but I suspect that it's not because he doesn't always scream and has no problems lying flat.

    In the last few days, I'm not seeing a lot of wet diapers. He would have an extremely wet one first thing in the morning, but would only have 3 additional wet diapers for the rest of the day. I'm thinking if his fussiness is because my supply is low. Isn't it going to be a vicious cycle, where he doesn't want to nurse and my supply get lower?

    He will only nurse when being nursed to sleep. If I try to feed him at other times, he will scream at me and get really mad. I also have to hold him for all his naps so I can't try to squeeze in any pump sessions either.

    He won't take a bottle. I don't know what else I can do to get him to take more milk. He has only gained 3 oz in 3 weeks. I'm worried to death!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    How is his output? When was the last time he pooped? Has he had any solids? Could he be constipated? Is he congested? How many days has this been going on?

    IMO, it's not his weight that is the issue so much as his low output.

    It might be time for a "nursing holiday." Get comfortable in bed together, set up a laptop nearby, or a stack of good books, and just nurse every chance you get. If he uses a pacifier, get rid of it for a few days until you're more satisfied with his output. Strip him down and yourself as well (make sure the room is warm), for lots of skin-to-skin contact. And don't worry about pumping-- direct nursing will yield a better output than pumping. And RELAX. Babies can "smell" anxiety, and will respond with their own.
    ~Sylvia~

    Wife to Nick, m. May 2005

    Mommy to Gabriel (b. January 2007, 8lbs. 15oz.), nursed 18 months.

    Isaac (b. August 2009, 9lbs. 1oz- naturally), nursed 22 months, through PPD/PPA and emergency gallbladder surgery.

    and Corban (b. March 2012, 11lbs. 6Oz.- naturally in the water), my NICU baby, still nursing strong at age 2!


    Daughter of God

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*pianosinger View Post
    IMO, it's not his weight that is the issue so much as his low output.
    A nursing holiday would be my first choice, too. But I'd also love for you to take him in to the pediatrician and have hem look at his ears- a stealth ear infection could explain everything- and also his gums. My guess is that some of the fussiness is related to teething.

    If baby is really refusing to nurse at all and you think low supply is part of the problem, I'd also throw some pump sessions in to make up for the missed nursing sessions. Ordinarily I wouldn't recommend that approach, because with most babies a nursing vacation would be enough. But given your baby's extreme reluctance to nurse and the slow weight gain, I think some pumping in addition to nursing is a conservative course of action.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    He usually has one poop a day. He has one extremely wet diaper first thing in the morning, then about 3-4 slightly-moderately wet diapers for the rest of the day.

    We started him on solids a few weeks ago but he would only take at max a tablespoon a day.

    When he was about 8 weeks old, he suddenly refused to nurse one night. We did skin to skin every night up until then. I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't nurse and was ready to put his clothes back on and just put him to bed. We gave it one last try after putting on his clothes and he came back to nurse! So from then on, we figured that he didn't like to be naked. Sometimes he would refuse to nurse if his feet are cold so I would have to put socks on him. One time he refused to nurse because I didn't put on his bib. Many times, he will refuse to nurse until I burp the tiniest little bubble out is him. Sometimes he will refuse to nurse unless I keep singing him different songs. If I repeated a song, he will stop nursing. Sometimes he will stop nursing unless I held on to his hand. It's all a guessing game for me and I just don't know what he wants next and have to keep trying until he comes back to nurse. All of this behaviour is before he turned 3 months old.

    I don't think a nursing vacation will work. I tried a "semi" nursing vacation with him yesterday. Took off all his and did skin to skin with him in my bed. He didn't want to nurse. So I thought maybe he's not hungry yet. Let's just hang out and spend some naked time in bed. When it was time for his nap and I tried to nurse him to sleep, he refused to nurse. He has NEVER refused to nurse for his naps. He screamed, cried, kicked - this is only the second time I have seen him cry so furiously. He usually doesn't cry other than when I nurse him outside of his naps. I was so stressed and didn't know what to do. I was about to cry myself. As soon as I stood him up and climbed out of my bed, he stopped crying. So I don't think a nursing is going to work. (Turns out that he wants to go downstairs to play, but we spent his wake time upstairs instead).

    He might be teething because I always see him rubbing his fingers on his upper gums. But he has been doing this for a few weeks now. If he is teething, is there anything I can do? I give him teethers to chew on but doesn't chew on it for long.

    I don't know what more I can do to please him and get him to eat more. Obviously this little guy is very stubborn. I'm so tempted to start weaning him and give him formula because it's fatter but I don't know where to start because he won't take a bottle.
    Last edited by @llli*csmf; March 20th, 2014 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Typo

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    Formula isn't fattier than breastmilk. In fact, according to the very reliable Kellymom.com (http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/milkcalories/), breastmilk actually has slightly more calories per oz than formula. And if your baby has some sort of aversion to eating, that doesn't change just because his food is coming out of a bottle.

    It sounds like you have a very high-needs baby. Have you tried nursing positions other than the classic cradle hold? Like having mom flat on her back or reclined in a chair, and baby on top? Or side-lying, with mom and baby lying in bed? I'm also curious about the Zantac- maybe it would help to try a different medication or different dosage?
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    So, I know this gain is on the slow side, but how alarming is this overall? Is baby healthy and meeting milestones otherwise? Growing in height and head circumference? Is the doctor concerned? Was gain always slow? Gain is typically faster in the first 2-3 months and then slows down.

    Presumably your baby would eat more if baby is hungry. You say your supply is low, but that does not explain a hungry baby not taking a bottle. (What about a cup?) If baby has a poor appetite, perhaps there is an iron or B12 deficiency. Certainly the Iron, at least, could be tested? If baby is eating enough but not gaining normally, perhaps there is some underlying medical issue.

    You say in your first post that you suspect your supply is low. Have you tried to increase your production? Galactagogues?

    baby sleeps in your arms. Does baby also nurse during naps?

    A good book I always suggest when a baby seems to not want to eat enough (Whether baby is eating solids, nursing or bottlefed) is My Child Won't Eat by Carlos Gonzalez.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; March 22nd, 2014 at 01:32 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    We've tried the side lying position but he eats very slowly in that position and gets a lot of air in cos his latch is shallow in that position.

    His head circumference is in the 40+ percentile, his height is also on the low end as well. He is meeting all his milestones and is very smart and happy. His weight gain had always been consistently 4 oz per week from birth to about 3-4 months.

    I continue to take prenatal vitamins, omega 3, calcium magnesium, vitamin C, and eat oatmeal everyday. Should I take iron supplements as well?

    I've started to take fenugreek this week as well to increase supply.

    He would nurse for about 10 mins for his naps then would be deep asleep and unlatch. On the odd occasion when he does continue to suck, he usually chokes mid sleep and sometimes would vomit due to the choking.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    40 percentile is not low. 40 percent of all HEALTHY children have a head circumference that is in the 40th percentile or less. It's not about what percentile a given child is. its not even about baby staying on the same percentile as it is normal for shifts in percentile to occur. It's about whether the individual baby is growing normally overall. Again I suggest My Child Won't Eat for a clear explanation of the very confusing subject of growth charts.

    I am not going to suggest you to take iron or any other supplements. First off, if baby is that low in iron that it is causing a health issue, baby should probably be getting the supplement directly. second, you have no idea if baby is low in iron. That is just one possibility that might cause poor appetite. and we don't even know if baby has a poor appetite.

    could you have a very fast letdown? that can cause nursing adversion.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; March 22nd, 2014 at 01:54 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    Sorry, should have been clearer in my earlier post. Yes, I agree. His head is not small. His head is in the 40th percentile at his 4 month appointment. His length was 7th percentile, and his weight was 1st percentile. At his 3 month appointment, his head and height were in the 30+ percentile, but weight was around 5th percentile. His weight at birth was in the 36th percentile, then gradually dropped at every month to now 1st percentile.

    I'm pretty sure it's not the letdown because when he was 3 months old, he did refuse the left side entirely for a week because of a fast letdown. He would scream at the sight of the left side back then, but has overcome that by now.

    So for the past 4 days, we had him take Zantac and I also took fenugreek three times a day. My supply went up a lot because my breasts no longer feel entirely empty in the afternoons. He has been feeding better (pls don't jinx it). He wouldn't entirely refuse to nurse during the day when outside of his nap times. Now I can't determine if it's the Zantac helping him or if he's willing to nurse because my supply has increased. Thoughts?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Help! How to get underweight fussy baby to eat more?

    I think I'd bet on the Zantac. When EBF babies are hungry and the breast isn't delivering the quantity of milk they want/need, the response is to nurse more often and nurse for longer time periods. Hurting babies, on the other hand, don't care about milk quantity as much as they care about the pain of using their digestive system. The hurting babies are the ones who are tough to nurse, not the hungry ones.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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