Tips to increase intake and weight gain of breastfed baby

By | October 25, 2009

My son, as you all know is underweight and breastfed. Like any concerned mother, I want to see him put on weight consistently. This led me to really look for ways to up his intake and make the best of what he will eat. These insights were priceless and difficult to find on the net – took a lot of careful observation and experimenting.

  1. The milk you feed him. Excess of foremilk and not enough hindmilk will cause gassiness. We know that – lactose overload or foremilk hindmilk imbalance. But why does getting enough hindmilk resolve this? Because hindmilk contains fats in addition to all that the regular stuff in the foremilk and the more the breast is empty, the more fats the milk will contain, making it travel slower through the intestines and get more time to be digested. So, if you have a good milk supply, pump off foremilk and then put the baby to breast. This way, what little quantity the baby drinks will have more calories in it, in addition to saving energy spent in gas pain, fussiness, etc.
  2. Feed at first cues of hunger. Okay, so we can’t always recognize them… Really, when in doubt, offer. When your baby starts following you with his eyes, offer. When baby has been awake for a while since previous feed, offer. If its hot weather and he could be thirsty…. Whatever. Offer. I was really surprised to see how much more than “every two hours” my baby would want to eat. If you catch the hunger before it reaches desperation and fussiness levels, your baby will be that much calmer and eat more.
  3. Don’t stop feeding when your baby takes a break. Often my son will stop drinking because he wants to burp or poop or pee. Getting that done will see him drinking again, if I offer, but he’s not hungry enough to fuss. (He will look at me constantly or stare at my breast though). After burping always offer to continue feeding if baby wants. If you miss this, he’ll just end up asking that much sooner, or god forbid, if you are a time table mom or don’t figure out he’s hungry, he’ll go partially hungry.
  4. Sometimes the baby plays with the nipple, rubs head against breast, arches back alternating with mouthing the nipple, cries, etc. He is NOT refusing milk. He is hungry, but is uncomfortable and can’t focus on it. Most of the time, burping will do the trick, or try calming him, waiting for a poop, helping him release gas. Whether it works to resolve the discomfort or not, sometimes you manage to help enough that he can now drink comfortably.
  5. Don’t soothe a hungry baby when you could feed him. Won’t work for long anyway, and aren’t you trying to increase his growth? Hunger is an opportunity. Even if it means he is eating all the time. If he is constantly asking to feed, obviously he is constantly feeling hungry. Don’t analyse it – “how could he be hungry again so fast?” etc – obviously he is. How doesn’t matter. Could be because he didn’t feed enough last time, or burped after that and now has more space or a growth spurt, or whim/weather…? Sometimes Nisarg will eat almost all the time, and when he settles again, his meals will have increased in size – a growth spurt in appetite?

These tips together probably doubled my son’s intake within a couple of weeks and kept the good doctor beaming in approval though his weight is still off the charts low.

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