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Too Rapid Weight Gain With Breastfeeding Only
By Anne Smith, IBCLC
Q. I was wondering if you could give me some idea of the number of breastfeedings that your baby needed when two months old? I know all babies are individuals but I would like some comparison. Our baby is entirely breastfed, and I did not think he wanted to eat that often or ate that much but at his 2-month checkup, he is very heavy compared to his height and the doctor told us to limit how much/many times he eats a day. I have not supplemented at all; he has been eating 6-8 times a day (about every 3 hours, and he sleeps about 7 hours straight at night) depending on how hot it has been, for about 12-15 minutes a time, and mostly on one side only. Maybe my milk is too heavy or there is too much of it, and he gets too much when he sucks really strongly. I have no idea what happened, as everything I have been reading said that you can breastfeed ad libitum and that is fine. Yet, our baby is already far too heavy and I am afraid he will be fat!! Obviously, he is not very happy eating only 5 times a day and won't drink the tea I offer him. I hope he gets used to this as otherwise it will drive me nuts in the long term and I think I will wean him if things will not get better soon.
A. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your baby, his nursing schedule, or his weight gain. Breastfed babies gain weight on their own timetable, and regulate their intake quite nicely. There is no such thing as milk that is "too rich" or a breastfed baby that gains weight "too quickly".
The schedule he is on is perfectly normal for a baby this age. The only cause for concern in terms of feeding schedule would be if he was nursing every hour on the hour, day and night, and not gaining weight.
Breastfeeding is one of the very best ways to prevent obesity in adults. Just because your baby is gaining weight quickly in the early weeks, there is no reason to assume that he will become an overweight adult.
Weight charts simply tell you what the "average" baby is going to gain in a certain period of time. The problem is that there is no such thing as an "average" baby in real life. All babies are individuals, and develop at their own pace. Some babies are going to be off the charts, some at the 90th percentile, some at the 50th, and some at the 10th. As long as your baby is happy and thriving, it doesn't matter how often he nurses, how long he stays on the breast, or whether he takes one breast or two at a feeding.
While the "average" baby will double his birth weight by 5-6 months, some will do this sooner, and some later. I had one baby who weighed nearly nine pounds at birth, and weighed only 17 pounds at a year. The doctors were worried about her and told me my milk wasn't 'rich enough'. She turned out just fine, but is still has a very slender build.
You can't overfeed a breastfed baby. He will regulate his intake, and if he takes in too much milk, he will simply spit the excess back up.
Don't worry about a thing. Your son is doing just fine, and will probably slow down his pattern of weight gain over the next few months. You are doing the best thing possible by continuing to breastfeed on demand, and giving him the valuable benefits of breastmilk that formula (and tea!) can't begin to duplicate.
It sounds like your doctor needs a course in Breastfeeding 101. I get so frustrated when moms who are doing a great job with nursing get misinformation from their doctors that makes them doubt that what they are doing is right. You need to enjoy your baby and stop stressing about his weight gain and limiting his feedings, because there is nothing wrong with your baby or your milk, in spite of what your doctor has told you.
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