Baby Symptoms & Conditions

Slow Weight Gain Or Weight Loss In Babies

It can be scary if baby’s losing weight or not gaining enough! Here’s how to deal.

What is considered slow weight gain or weight loss for a baby?

You may weigh exactly what you did when you were in high school (or not!), but babies don’t maintain their weight for long. The vast majority of the time, it’s simply a part of the whole growing process. But you may be concerned that your baby, who once practically grew a clothing size overnight, seems to suddenly be slowing down his weight gain or even losing some ounces or pounds.

What could be causing my baby’s slow weight gain or weight loss?

Weight gain begins to slow when babies learn to crawl (and eventually start tearing through the house), since their metabolism is shifting to a higher gear. Going down a few ounces or even a couple of pounds is fairly normal if he’s been under the weather, since he just may not be eating as much. But there’s also a small chance there’s some kind of metabolic or digestive problem going on that may need a doctor’s attention.

When should I take my baby to the doctor with slow weight gain or weight loss?

If you’re concerned about how he looks or feels and his weight keeps slipping, it’s worth calling your doctor, who may ask you to come in for weekly weight checks. Babies are expected to lose some ounces their first few days of life, but after that, they have less of a buffer than toddlers when it comes to weight loss (after all, when you only weigh 10 pounds, losing 1 pound is a pretty big deal), so don’t let his weight loss go on too long without seeking medical advice.
 
What should I do to treat my baby’s slow weight gain or weight loss?

If you feel your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, try increasing the size of his feedings or the frequency, especially if he seems hungry. (Same idea for your toddler.) For babies who are eating solid foods, offer nutritional, high-calorie foods (like whole milk, cheese and yogurt). Just remember: Kids have a finely tuned hunger mechanism, so they’ll generally only eat until they are satisfied.

By Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician with Children’s Medical Group P.C. in Atlanta and author of <em>Heading Home With Your Newborn</em> (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010)