My sweet angel was born on December 27th, 2016. I was scheduled to be induced on December 30th, so it was a very sudden surprise. I plan on writing my baby’s birth story very soon, and when I do, I’ll be sure to link to it in case you’re interested. But what I want to talk about today is how my baby initially struggled with gaining weight. And the surprising bits of information I learned along the way.
My baby was born at 7 lbs 7 oz but lost 8% of his body weight in the hospital. This put him at about 6 lbs 13 oz (if my math is correct, they actually only told us the 8%, not his weight upon discharge). Being first-time parents, my husband and I were extremely worried. We didn’t really know if this was a lot of weight, but it seemed like it. I knew babies lost some weight in the hospital, but didn’t know how much. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, I really wish I would have asked the doctors in the hospital if this was something to be worried about. But, alas.
Two weeks after his birth, he was just barely 7 lbs. Our doctor had us come weigh in again, and he was 7.31 lbs. I kept reading on forums about babies reaching their birth weight by 1-3 weeks. What was I doing wrong? He had plenty of wet and dirty diapers. Would he be labeled “failure to thrive”? Would I need to supplement? Then, about a month after his birth, he hit 8 lbs. You better believe I sent out a text to my family, ecstatic that he had gained. But, of course, nerd that I am, I decided to dig deeper. I wanted to know why my little one was a bit slow to regain his weight.
I found out that the World Health Organization actually released a separate growth chart for breastfed babies. You see, the growth charts most commonly used are based on formula fed babies. Now, this probably wouldn’t have affected us much because the biggest change comes when breastfed babies are in the 3-4 month range. But a lot of parents ditch breastfeeding or introduce solids early simply because they think their baby is not getting enough. A large part of this is because around 3-4 months, breastfed babies tend to gain more slowly than their formula-fed counterparts. So while a formula fed baby looks to be right on track, a breastfed baby looks as though they are no longer showing proper growth.
Even the CDC has verified these claims and says that it’s common for breastfed babies to weigh less than formula fed babies, particularly around the 3-6 month mark. They encourage doctors to use the chart developed by WHO, but not all doctors do. The CDC says “the CDC growth charts are references; they identify how typical children in the US did grow during a specific time period. Typical growth patterns may not be ideal growth patterns. The WHO growth charts are standards; they identify how children should grow when provided optimal conditions.” (SOURCE) It could be useful, if you’re worried, to ask your doctor which growth chart they’re using. Many breastfed babies seem to follow a curve better on the WHO chart.
If you’d like some more sources, check these out:
Did your baby ever drop off of his or her growth curve? Do you know if your doctor uses the updated WHO growth charts? Please share this with all of your parental friends!!