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Breastfeeding/breastfed baby not gaining much weight.


Hello, my baby was born five months ago and since then I have been exclusive breast feeding but my concern is that baby hasn't been gaining much weight. Since my daughter's first check up her doctor has suggested I switch to formula because of her low gain of weight.

She was born 23 inches 7 pounds 11 ounces and was 7 pounds 2 ounces when she came home. At this time I was breastfeeding her 30 to 40 minutes every 2.5 to 3 hours.

At 2 weeks, we went in for a check up to see if she regained her birth weight. At this weigh in she only gained 4 ounces. They suggested I start supplementing with formula but I said that I wanted to continue breastfeeding because it was better. So they sent me to see a lactation specialist. They concluded that she was sucking properly.

At 1 month, we returned to get her weight done. At this time she only gained 3 ounces and she was only 7 pounds 9 ounces. The doctor was concerned about her weight so she suggested me offering her 2 ounces of formula after I breast-feed her and to try to offer her the breast every 2 hours. I wasn't quite ready to try formula because I didn't want to risk the chance of her not breast feeding so instead I tried to offer the breast every 1 1/2 during the day and at night time let her wake up when she was hungry.

We went back to the doctor at 2 months and it seemed she has gained a bit more weight. She gained 9 ounces and was 24.5 inches 8 pounds 3 ounces. As a precaution, the doctor decided to get some blood tests done to see if she had any issues to explain why she wasn't gaining much weight. All the test came back normal.

We came back at 3 months and this time she weighed 9 pounds 1 oz. The doctor was pleased with this weigh in and sent us on our weigh.

At her last weigh in they became really concerned because she was 26 inches and only weighed 9 pounds 5oz. They gave her the diagnosed of failure to thrive and at this time said I had to stop all breastfeeding and go to a high calorie formula. Not wanting to fully give up on breastfeeding I decided to breast feed her only at night from 10ish to 7amish. During the day I offer her 2ounces of the formula with 1 ounce of the breast milk I express after each of her feedings.

I got in for a weigh in tomorrow for her and I am worried she is not going to gain that much weight. Do you have any advice or should I just switch her over to the high calorie formula. I just don't want to switch her over fully because she hasn't been sick she has been born, smiled at 8 weeks and rolled over both weighs by 4 months so she is defientaly reaching her milestones on time.

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Dear Ali,

First, congratulations on starting your daughter out with breastfeeding, so that she received important antibodies from you, along with your good breast milk.

I'm so sorry to hear about the problems she has been having in terms of not gaining enough weight. It sounds as if your pediatrician is very much involved with your baby's care, and I would strongly suggest that you follow the doctor's recommendations. The most important thing, of course, is your baby's health -- and if formula will achieve that, that's what you want to give her.

Meanwhile, you might be able to continue with some breastfeeding. Consider asking your doctor whether she thinks you could:

* continue nursing at night as you have been doing, while giving the high-calorie formula at all other feedings;

* add a little expressed breast milk to the formula feedings, as you have been doing; and/or

* nurse your baby for a few minutes at some or all of her feedings, before or after giving her formula, as long as she takes as much formula as your doctor recommends.

Good luck!

Sally Wendkos Olds
Author, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING: Olds & Marks, 4th edition, September 2010, published by Workman Publishing, and available in most public libraries, bookstores & La Leche League chapters.  


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Sally Wendkos Olds


What do you want to know about breastfeeding? I can tell you what`s good for the baby, what`s good for the mother -- and the father, how it`s related to a woman`s sexuality, how working moms can nurse, how to overcome obstacles, and lots more. As the author of THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING and author or coauthor of 8 other books and more than 200 articles about child and adult development, I can offer sound, sensible advice on breastfeeding, child care and family issues.


I nursed my 3 daughters and am the grandmother of 5 breastfed children. My book THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING (written in consultation with pediatrician Marvin S. Eiger, M.D.) was first published in 1972, and in 1999 came out in an updated 3rd Edition by Workman Publishing & Bantam Books. It is now a classic, with over 2 million copies in print. I am now revising this book for a fourth edition, consulting with pediatrician Laura M. Marks, M.D. This new edition will be published September 2009. I welcome any and all suggestions for the new edition. I coauthored college textbooks A CHILD'S WORLD: INFANCY THROUGH ADOLESCENCE, and HUMAN DEVELOPMENT; both are leading texts in their fields and have been read by 2 million students. I am the coauthor of HELPING YOUR CHILD FIND VALUES TO LIVE BY and RAISING A HYPERACTIVE CHILD, and author of THE WORKING PARENTS' SURVIVAL GUIDE & THE ETERNAL GARDEN: SEASONS OF OUR SEXUALITY. My newest book, A BALCONY IN NEPAL: GLIMPSES OF A HIMALAYAN VILLAGE, published in 2002, tells the story of the way of life in a remote village in Nepal, where all the women breastfeed! My book, SUPER GRANNY: COOL PROJECTS, ACTIVITIES, AND OTHER GREAT STUFF TO DO WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS, will be published March 2009. I speak often to professional, parent and general audiences and make many radio and TV appearances.

Credentials I received my B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where I minored in Psychology, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude.

Other points of interest I have received national awards for my writing, and am a former president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. I am listed in the World Who's Who of Women, International Authors & Writers Who's Who, and Contemporary Authors, and am a member of several professional and civic organizations. I believe: that all parents are working parents; that parents employed outside the home need special support; that mothers' well-being is crucial to their children's welfare; and that the family is the best institution in the world and the one for which we are least prepared. My thrills come when parents or kids tell me they were helped by my writing or speaking or just understanding. To find out more about me, go to

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