Slow growth caused by infrequent breastfeeding

Is my baby’s slow growth caused by not breastfeeding often enough?

Sometimes babies grow slowly because they don’t breastfeed often enough. They may be able to breastfeed effectively and their mothers may have a full milk supply, but if babies don’t breastfeed 7 to 10 times a day, they may not get enough milk. It may be that these babies are allowed to sleep more than five hours at a time, are swaddled, or use a pacifier regularly. They may be forced to breastfeed on a four-hour schedule or forced to stay on one breast for an entire feed. Correcting these problems may be all that is needed to ensure the baby gets enough milk without the need for supplements. The baby will, however, need to be supplemented if the mother does not have a full milk supply or if these problems are corrected and the baby does not immediately show signs of getting enough milk.

A) Slow growth caused by not breastfeeding often enough

There are many possible reasons for a baby to not grow well.

Some babies grow slowly because they don’t breastfeed often enough. That means they are not breastfeeding 7 to 10 times a day. As a result, the baby doesn’t get enough milk even though the mother may have a full milk supply.

Not breastfeeding often enough can be caused by:

Infrequent breastfeeding may cause a decrease in milk supply. It is often possible to increase the milk supply in this situation.

These babies should be seen by their health-care providers and closely supervised until they are growing well.

A small number of normal babies may breastfeed six times each day when their mother has a large milk supply and they take both breasts at each feed. These babies grow well and their mothers need not be concerned about their baby’s infrequent feeds.

C) Solutions for breastfeeding management problems

1) Fix the problem

The above patterns should be changed so that:

  • The baby does not sleep for longer than five hours.
  • The baby is not swaddled.
  • The pacifier is never used or is only used for emergencies or for very short periods.
  • The baby is breastfed whenever the baby shows hunger signs and for a total of 7 to 10 breastfeeds a day.
  • The baby is offered both breasts at each feed.
  • The side on which the baby starts breastfeeding changes at each feed.
  • The baby is given replacement feeds of milk when the mother and baby are separated.

2) When the baby may not need milk supplements

Sometimes, a change in breastfeeding practices is all that is needed to ensure the baby gets enough milk. Supplements of milk may not be necessary if:

  • The baby now has 7 to 10 breastfeeds a day.
  • The baby breastfeeds normally.
  • The mother has a full milk supply.
  • The baby is otherwise healthy.
  • The baby shows all the signs of getting enough milk and grows well.
  • The baby’s health-care providers are satisfied with the baby’s growth.

3) When the baby needs milk supplements

The baby will need to be supplemented if:

It is more likely that the baby will need to be supplemented if the baby is premature, a sleepy newborn, or sick. These babies are also more likely to breastfeed ineffectively.