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My Baby is Underweight. What Should I Do?

13 June 2023

When it comes to looking after your baby, ensuring that your baby’s weight is adequate is a key indicator of health. That means keeping a close eye on all their measurements and addressing any issues they might have. One common concern among parents when it comes to their baby is their weight. 

Many factors come into play when talking about a baby's weight. All babies have different appetites, medication schedules, genetics, sleeping schedules, and environments - all of which play a part in determining a baby's weight. If you’re concerned about your little one’s weight, read on as we talk more about what you should do if your baby is underweight. 

Get medical advice first

When it comes to weight concerns about your baby, the first thing you should do is consult your paediatrician or GP. Your child’s doctor will check their growth chart and see if your child’s weight is indeed below the expected amount for their height and age. The doctor will then make an informed decision about whether your baby should be considered underweight. In addition, maternity nurses can also be consulted. In the UK, you will likely be sent details of health visits to see you and your baby.

If your baby is underweight, it’s crucial that you consult a doctor first in order to rule out any possible diseases that might be related to weight loss. Also, if you are breastfeeding your baby, you want to make that clear to the doctor or a lactation specialist if you wish. You want to make sure that what you are doing is right, and that your feeding methods are in line with your baby’s needs. 

There is no set rule around how much breast milk a baby should consume, but babies will often cry when hungry and that’s an indication to feed them. If your baby is underweight, aside from increasing the volume of milk consumption with the doctor's approval, you can also introduce pureed foods. Again, this must be done with guidance. 

At around 8 months - to train your baby’s eating skills - your baby should transition to eating solid foods, around 1-2 times a day. 

Common problems

Now, let's look at some common problems that can occur when it comes to feeding babies:

Not processing milk properly

This can certainly be the case with formula fed babies, especially if there is an allergy present. We know from research that breast is best, and although formula can be a good substitute if breastfeeding is not possible, some children can show allergies to it. Seek advice from your healthcare worker if this might apply to you. Typical signs could be rashes on the skin. Seek medical advice if you see rashes on your little one. 

Using electronic gadgets 

Many parents use gadgets to entertain their babies or to have them stay put while eating. This is not a good practice since it encourages babies not to focus on eating. This means that they will not improve their eating skills, and their eating habits will not develop as they should.

Fruit juices

Young babies really don’t need fruit juices at all. Too much fruit in the form of fruit juices will not be very nutritious and will be high in sugar. These juices will also fill them up so much that they don't want to eat any more food. Also, these fruit juices generally contain low levels of beneficial nutrients. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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