Breastfeeding is the gold standard of infant nutrition, and a woman’s body is naturally designed to make enough milk for her baby. However, if altering the natural hormonal process of breastfeeding by ingesting pregnancy hormones, it will be necessary to accurately monitor a baby’s weight gain to ensure his or her adequate growth. For a healthy full-term baby, the WHO growth charts are an excellent tool for tracking infant growth. Here are some general guidelines on infant growth, according to the WHO growth charts: Babies should have less than 10% weight loss at Day 3-5 of life, and they should be back to birth weight by Day 10 – Day 14. After getting back to birth weight, babies should be gaining about 1 oz. per day, until 3 months. “If a baby is gaining weight well below the 50th percentile, this is a sign breastfeeding needs closer attention. For example, a weight gain of 4.5 oz. per week during the first 3 months is at the 1st percentile for a breastfeeding girl” (Mohrbacher p 204). Babies should double birth weight by 3-4 months. Babies should stay on a steady curve on the growth charts throughout infancy. For example, if at 2 weeks a baby is at 70% on the growth chart, and then at 2 months he has dropped to 10%, this would indicate insufficient intake, assuming the baby is healthy. There are many causes for slow weight gain in the breastfed baby, so a thorough evaluation by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is warranted. In the situation of an infant presenting with poor weight gain, automatic supplementation of formula is not the solution. However, that infant’s slow weight gain warrants further investigation, both to protect the maternal milk supply as well as to prevent a worsening problem. As stated by Susan Burger (IBCLC), an international nutrition expert and lactation consultant, “The process of monitoring growth is only likely to be useful if the underlying causes of any deviations are determined and appropriate actions are taken to promote healthy growth.” (Burger, 2011)
Many families are being incorrectly told that very slow weight gain and even weight loss after Day 4 of life are normal. In an attempt to justify the numerous cases of babies with very slow weight gain that have resulted from maternal placenta ingestion, it appears that an effort is being made to redefine what normal weight gain is. The validity of these recent assertions is called into question as there is no evidence to support the claim that it is healthy for babies to grow at a rate that is categorized as failure-to-thrive. In fact, the WHO growth charts are widely accepted throughout the world as the standard for breastfed babies (WHO 2018).