35 answers

Breast-fed Baby Dropping on the Weight/height Charts

We just took our son in for his 9-month well-baby dr. visit. We were surprised to see that he has dropped from being in the 75th-85th percentile on height and weight to the 30th percentile. Our doctor says that he is very healthy and that we should not worry about for this two reasons: 1. His height and weight are still proportionate to each other and 2. It's common for breast-fed babies to drop like this in the 2nd half of the the first year. (He is eating solid foods 3 times/day, and nursing 4 times/day.) Has anyone else experienced this?

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Thank you, everyone, for your responses! I wasn't too worried since my son is active, healthy, and most importantly, happy, but I really appreciate hearing that this is, indeed, a common situation. Thank you so much for all the advice and comments!

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I experienced a very similar thing with my exclusively breast fed, now very healthy 9 year old. Doctors in general tend to be a bit alarmist about these thing so if the doc isn't worried I would say it's a pretty normal pattern.

K.

I recall that my son also had a slight drop in his weight/height chart at around nine months. My doctor told me the same thing you did. He went on to grow at a normal rate and within the average percentile. I hope this helps you.

E.,
I know you've already gotten a million responses, but I had to respond because I am going through the exact same thing! At about the time my daughter started walking, she dropped in the charts. She's now 15 months and only at the 12th percentile. She still breastfeeds three times a day, and I was a bit concerned because the Dr. started talking about her not absorbing her food correctly and all that nonsense, but after reading all the responses you got from other mothers who said this was normal, I feel much better. My daughter is in the 90th percentile for height, so she is absorbing her food. She's just a skinny little thing. Both my husband and I are tall and thin too, so she's taking after us. I'm so glad you asked this question!

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The same thing happened with my bfed son and I worried. But the other ladies are correct: the percentiles are based on formula-fed babies, not bfed. If you want to see the charts for bfed babies, go to http://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/growth/growthcharts....

Relax, everything's fine - even your doc confirmed that he is healthy! :)

1 mom found this helpful

Your Dr. is right. It is totally normal. You can be rest-assured that breastfed babies (especially after the initial few weeks) will eat as much as they need. Also he is getting baby food. We all have to take into consideration our genetics (ie. height, frame size etc). I am sure your son would let you know that he is not getting enough food/milk by waking up more in the night. It will all even out in the end. Just keep nursing:)

Hey E.,
Make sure your Dr. is using the NEW growth charts put out by the CDC that are for breastfeeding babies. The old growth charts are for formula fed babies who tend to stay chunky, whereas breastfed babies grow quickly in the first six months, then they tend to not gain/grow at the same rate at the first six months. If you're comparing your child to a formula fed baby it will seem like he has stopped growing, but since babies were born to be breastfed, the "normal" growth pattern would be the way breastfed babies grow! My daughter is 21 months and still wearing the same clothes she wore last summer (at 6-9 months) since she was so chunky then, but is taller and skinnier now. As long as your son seems healthy and is eating well, he is fine.

I'm not a doctor, so I don't know, but it sounds concerning. I would check with another doctor. Why would breast-fed babies stop growing in height? I breast fed my daughter and she maintained her height and weight. Anyway, I'm not a doctor -- so I don't know -- and please ask a doctor...

Just throwing it out there... could there have been a mistake made in the measurements?

I experienced a very similar thing with my exclusively breast fed, now very healthy 9 year old. Doctors in general tend to be a bit alarmist about these thing so if the doc isn't worried I would say it's a pretty normal pattern.

K.

The same thing happened with my daughter, who just turned a year. She started out in the 90th percentile, and around 9 months she stopped growing so much, and she's now in about the 50th percentile. The doctor told me the same thing, that it is very common for breastfed babies. He's not concerned at all. As long as your son eating fine, then I'm sure there's no need to worry. Now don't worry, though, if someone tells you that didn't happen with thier child. This is my fourth child and she is the only one that dropped percentiles like this. So don't worry, every child is different. If your doctor says he's very healthy and you feel his development is where it should be then I wouldn't worry.

Hi E., this is nothing to worry about. My daughter was on top of the charts (bf) and when she started crawling and then walking, from 9-13 mths, she did not gain even 4 ozs. She slimmed down and got tall. When the doctor saw her at 18 mths, she was 85% height and 30% weight and he said that was perfect. She's suddenly putting on weight again (close to 2), so I believe another growth spurt is coming. My doctor said that it is extremely normal for them to thin down when they get active...in fact that's what they are supposed to do. Just keep up the good work bfing and you don't have to worry. You'll always get the best nutrition into him!

H.

My daugther's weight dropped a bit between 9 and 12 months. I think it was because she was taking in more solids and nursing less. Once she turned 12 mos and was able to eat more solids I increased some fats in her diet. She's 3 now and is back in the 50%ile for her weight.

Your son sounds like he is doing fine! My 17 month old has consistently been in the 10% for weight and 75% for height and he was breastfed. You have to remember those charts are a general guideline, plus they lump breast and formula fed babies together.

Sad thing is those charts, I have heard, are based off children who eat formula. Occasionally they are not really the accurate for breast fed babies (who gain weight differently and more naturally). Your doc is right. I wouldn't be concerned unless he stops growing, seems contantly hungry, or isn't reaching milestones.

My kids were all breastfed and this is common for them to do that. They are more active at 9 months and don't breastfeed as often as before. Nothing to worry about.

E.,
My breast-fed son started dropping weight around his 6 month check-up. We let ourselves get worried and ended up taking him to a pediatric gastrointerologist and having all sorts of tests done, only to come to the conclusion that he was fine. Just skinny. At the lowest, he was down to the 5th percentile, now at 19 months he's back up to the 25th. My regular pediatrician said all along that if he looked healthy and his height and head circumference kept going up, that he was fine. We should have just listened to him in the first place. So, as long as your son seems healthy and your doctor isn't worried, don't stress yourself out. It's not worth it.
good luck

If height/weight are still in proportion and he is otherwise healthy, I'd say he is doing great. I also agree with those that reminded you that those charts don't distinguish between bf/ff babies. Since there are more ff babies, especially at that age, and ff babies tend to chunk up a bit more, this is normal. Not that there aren't super chunky bf babies. Some moms just produce fattier milk which makes for chubbier babies. If you have ever been able to compare 2 or more bottles of b/milk from different moms (like at daycare) you can see this difference as the milk seperates into it's parts. It's pretty interesting. Also milk changes as the baby ages (even within a single feeding, though that is irrelevant to this question.) Because we can see how much is in a bottle and we have a pre-conceived idea in our heads about how much baby should be eating at any given time, bottle fed babies are more likely to be encouraged to take on a little extra, even after they really aren't hungry anymore - just to pacify themselves. Bf babies definitely grow differently. Don't worry about him tripling his birthweight by age 1 either. My 3 oldest were 8-1, 8-3, and 8-10 and breastfed and at 1 yr,they were only in the 19-20lb range but healthy. My 5 month old seems to be following the same track.

Hi E.,
I wouldn't worry. If your dr. says he's doing fine and is healthy, I'm sure he is. I can understand your concern however as the same thing happened to my daughter. She started in the 85th percentile for weight, then dropped to 60 and finally leveled out around the 40th and has stayed there since. Our dr. said it was due to weaning and to her learning to roll, crawl and walk. All this activity caused her to drop in the charts. As long as you see normal developmental milestones being achieved, I wouldn't pay too much attention to the charts - they're just another tool to measure growth anyway. We parents take them way too literally.
Good luck!
MC

Same thing happened with my daughter. She actually dropped to between the 10th and 25th percentile at a year and has stayed there ever since. I continued to nurse her until she was almost 3 at nap and bed time. She will be 8 years-old on Sunday and is a very healthy child. I am also only 5'2" and my family is short.

My kids did the same thing...no worries!

Hi. I found your post am in the same position. How is your child now? This is my second breastfeed son and my first was and is in the 90th percentile especially for height. Mt son has not grown in 3 months and the doctors are not worried but I am panicking.

Thanks!

Your 9-month old has probably become increasingly physically active...right? Babies tend to get "leaner" once they learn how to crawl and spend the most of their day moving about as opposed to eating and sleeping as newborns. In addition, your doctor may be using an outdated growth chart. In our society's recent history (in the late 50's and 60's), there was a huge shift towards formula feeding our babies. It was a societal reaction to the Space Race era and the need for everything to be scientific. The formula campaign was simple - baby formula is "scientifically" terrific for your baby, let us help you engineer big strong babies that can grow up to be astronauts. Anyway, pediatricians needed to adapt their growth charts to fit this trend of a nation switching to formula. As you know, formula fed babies experience more weight gain than breastfed babies. You can ask your doctor if your baby's weight is being charted on a growth chart designed for formula-fed infants.

I recall that my son also had a slight drop in his weight/height chart at around nine months. My doctor told me the same thing you did. He went on to grow at a normal rate and within the average percentile. I hope this helps you.

This happened to my daughter and my doctor questioned my milk supply, I got worried and began supplementing only for the afternoon feeds, then it was a very gradual weaning from there. My daughter's weight dropped from the 25th to 15th percentile, but her height was still constant. I wish I had not supplemented though. I was given a homemade formula recipe that after she turned a year that I wish I had then. I give it to her now before her one nap and before bed. It is very easy if you are want to supplement, but I totally support b-feeding first. Have you tried any teas or supplements like fenugreek or More Milk Plus? I would give those a try, but if your doctor is not worried, then I would not either. Many doctors come from different schools of thought, so I find the previous response reassuring and your doctor's advice to fine. But I completely understand where you are coming from.

Everything your doctor said is true. I wouldn't worry at all if I were you. Their percentiles will fluctuate as they grow. My guy was always in the 25% and at around 6 months finally made it to the 50% but since then has remained in the 25%-30% (also breastfed). Your doctor would definitely tell you if they were concerned!!

It's important to remember those charts are based on formula fed babies which tend to be heavier. I'm sure your little one is perfectly healthy. Our daughter was in the 5th percentile up until she was a year old and chubby as ever (breastfed), while our son was always off the charts (formula fed).

Hi E.,
Don't worry. Both of my sons (3 yrs and 1 yr) did the same thing. I breastfed my eldest till he was 11 months and my 1 yr old is still nursing. Both of my boys are healthy and strong. Breastmilk is extremely good for them, but it is not as dense as formula. My 6 moth old nephew has only been on formula and he is HUGE in comparison to my 1 year old (not so much in height, but in weight). But, there are so many advantages to breastmilk, that this little drop in the charts is really no biggie. I am not worried because my 3 yr old is back up in the 90th percentile.

You may want to consider nursing him 5 times. I believe that each feed is generally 5 oz and that they need 18-24ish ounces a day. Just a thought. But you'll tell if he's hungry. www.kellymom.com is a great site for breastfeeding support.

Hi E.,
It is great that you are still breastfeeding. Yes, breastfeed babies do not have as much baby fat in general and will drop on the %percentile. My daughter who is 13 months and breastfeeds 6/day went from 23% at 9 months to 10% at 12 months. She gained 1 lb 4 oz and is so healthy and active. Her height is 50th percentile. The ped's state keep up the good work. She is great.

My daughter started dropping weight around 6 mos too. In fact, she started out 90th percentile for weight and now at 20 months is only 25th percentile. She's healthy and eats a ton, just is very active. Pediatrician is not worried and said it's completely normal. Don't worry if your doctor isn't worried and your son is eating well!

A couple things to consider:

-Has his activity level increased? As in, is he moving around more, crawling, pulling up, walking? More activity = more calories burned.

-What do you and your husband look like. Small or large framed?

-People get so stoked about their baby 'winning' the percentiles race when they're infants. However, when they get older it basically means they're overweight or obese. I wouldn't worry about your child not topping the charts.

Thank goodness your doctor has a thinking brain in his/her head! My children"(4 of them) are all very thin and barely on the weight charts for the most part, but for a couple of my children the doctors I had didn't look at anything but the numbers. If your baby is happy and active and healthy just go with the flow. Some children just aren't going to be heavyweights!

E.,
I know you've already gotten a million responses, but I had to respond because I am going through the exact same thing! At about the time my daughter started walking, she dropped in the charts. She's now 15 months and only at the 12th percentile. She still breastfeeds three times a day, and I was a bit concerned because the Dr. started talking about her not absorbing her food correctly and all that nonsense, but after reading all the responses you got from other mothers who said this was normal, I feel much better. My daughter is in the 90th percentile for height, so she is absorbing her food. She's just a skinny little thing. Both my husband and I are tall and thin too, so she's taking after us. I'm so glad you asked this question!

VERY common and normal....if your ped is OK with it, you should be also. normally breast fed babies drop at six months....HATS off to you to continuing to breast feed!

Hi E., I agree with the others who say not to worry, which can be easier said than done. My daughter now 14 years old was 100% breast fed and super small. Guess what, she didn't even "get on" their goofy charts until she was about 17-18 months. People commented all the time how "tiny" she was. She was and is today the most normal 14 year old child. Your family genetics take a part in your sons body size. My father was 1 of 10 kids and his sisters were all 5 foot nothing and 100 lbs, so my daughter was simply following those genetics and still does to this day, she has not hit 5 foot yet! Maybe she will maybe she won't I wouldn't change a thing about her! You will know if your baby boy needs "extra" or "more" of something in foods or vitamins. Try not to worry.
God Bless!

That is exactly what my 1 year old son did at both his 9m and 1year (he used to be 90-75 and is now 25-50). My doctor also told me that is normal for a breastfed child. My husband is also a big guy and I was concerned that our son was not eating enough. My doctor said not to worry. Also, always remember in those charts 1 pound or 1 inch can make all the difference. They can be skewed because you aren't working with much.

Hi, E.. It is perfectly normal for your son not to gain weight like he did during the six months of his life. I, too, was concerned about that with my daughter who is now 3 years old. I breastfed her six months exclusively before I introducted her to baby food and table food.

She's tall for her age and she weighs 35 pounds now, and she is a healthy eater. Just keep up with what you are doing and remember the more active a child is the more calories he or she will burn.

I am a single mother of a 3 yr toddler who is now in preschool.

just watch this, i too think iit is fine but when it is failure to thrive it could be celiac or EE, does he have a heart murmur? but this is so comoom at this age it is when they are 4 and still not growing you need to remember this.
J.

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