How do I know if my baby is not gaining enough weight?
Your doctor or nurse will tell you if your baby is not gaining enough weight. At each visit, he or she will weigh your baby. Then he or she will compare your baby’s weight to the weight your baby was at the last visit. Your doctor or nurse will also compare your baby’s weight to the weight of other babies who are the same age and sex. Babies who weigh much less than most other babies of the same age and sex are not gaining enough weight.
Some babies do not gain enough weight starting at birth. Other babies gain enough weight for a while, but then slow down or stop gaining weight.
If your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, your doctor or nurse will want to figure out why. He or she will treat the cause and work with you to help your baby gain more weight. Babies need to gain enough weight so that they can grow and develop normally. Babies who do not gain enough weight can have problems later in life, such as learning problems or problems with the body’s infection-fighting system.
What are reasons that a baby might not gain enough weight?
Reasons that a baby might not gain enough weight can include:
- Being born too early
- Not getting enough food – For example, some babies have trouble sucking at the breast or bottle. Or parents might not feed their baby often enough.
- Having a medical problem that affects the stomach, mouth, throat, or heart
- Changes or stress in the home or family
- Having things around that take attention away from eating
How can my doctor figure out why my child isn’t gaining weight?
Your doctor or nurse will do an exam and ask you questions about your child’s eating habits. He or she might ask you to keep track of all the food that your child eats . Let your doctor or nurse know if your child:
- Has vomiting or diarrhoea
- Does not eat certain foods
- Drinks much more than he or she eats
Your doctor might also order a test.
Who do I work with to help my child gain weight?
Your doctor or nurse will work with you to make a plan to help your child to gain weight. He or she might recommend that you also work with other experts, such as a dietitian. A dietitian is an expert on food and eating.
Most children can be treated at home. But some children need to stay in the hospital for a short time. In the hospital, doctors can treat children and watch them closely.
What can I do to help my child gain enough weight?
You can do different things to help your child gain enough weight. You can change:
- What your child eats – You can help your child gain weight by feeding him or her foods with a lot of calories. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or dietitian about the right way to do this. He or she might recommend that you add extra calories to your baby’s feedings. Or you might need to add cheese, butter, or sour cream to foods that your older child eats. Your doctor or nurse might also recommend that your child take a vitamin every day.
- How often your child eats – Babies might need more feedings each day to gain weight. Older children might need to eat every 2 to 3 hours, and have 3 meals and 3 snacks a day.
- Where and how your child eats – Making changes to the area where your child eats might help your child eat more. For example, some children eat more when the whole family eats together or when meals are fun.
What other treatments might help my child gain enough weight?
Sometimes, other types of treatments can help. These can include:
- Medical treatments – Some children need to be treated for medical problems that can keep them from gaining enough weight.
- Physical or occupational therapy – Some children have problems with their body or behaviour that can make it hard for them to eat enough food. People called “physical therapists” or “occupational therapists” can work with children to improve these types of problems.
- Family help – Some children do not eat enough because of problems at home. A family might not have enough food, or a parent might be too sick to take care of a child. Your doctor or nurse can work with you to find programs or people who can help with these types of problems.
When do I follow up with my doctor or nurse?
Your doctor or nurse will follow up with you on a regular basis. On each visit, he or she will weigh your baby and talk with you. Let your doctor or nurse know if you are having any problems with treatment.