25 answers

Newborn Weight Loss

My 3 day old daughter just had her first check-up. She was 10 lbs at birth, but weighed in at 8lbs 14oz today. I know some weight loss is normal, but this was apparently too much. The nurse asked me to monitor my breastfeeding for the night and come back in tomorrow morning. If my little girl has not gained at least a little by then, she wants to supplement my breastfeeding with formula. I'm very worried about my little girl. Hs anyone else had this happen? What could cause this?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all your advice! It was all incredibly reassuring.

We took the little girl into the doctor's office this morning after spending yesterday closely monitoring how long and how often she ate, as well as how many wet and poopy diapers she had. Sure enough, her weight this morning was 9lbs 3 oz! I think a large part of this was that my milk came in sometime last night...my breasts were nice and full this morning.

Thank you all again!

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Hi E.! I have a 5 mo old daughter and she went through something very similar (not as much weight though). She lost weight and then didn't gain any. I think it was due to my breast feeding struggle (very painful!). Anyway I supplimented with formula and breast milk and we had an appointment on monday and friday of the same week to keep a close watch on her weight and she also had a slight case of jaundice. In those few days she gained 8 oz more than they wanted her to. Also formula is heavier than breastmilk and babies get full faster. Formula is good but breast in my opinion is best. I still use both. So I think its just a learning process as long as nothing else is wrong and she has wet/soiled diapers and seems content the weight will come. Hang in there!!

My little one lost more weight than the doctors wanted as well. I supplemented with a premmie formula. It had a little "extra" than regular formula. It just took a week or so to bulk her up.

She had absolutely no problem breastfeeding and formula feeding. No problem going from bf to a bottle.

It is an anxious time for you. I remember it verry well. It will pass.

Consider the formula. BF should go just fine as well.

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Hi E.! I have a 5 mo old daughter and she went through something very similar (not as much weight though). She lost weight and then didn't gain any. I think it was due to my breast feeding struggle (very painful!). Anyway I supplimented with formula and breast milk and we had an appointment on monday and friday of the same week to keep a close watch on her weight and she also had a slight case of jaundice. In those few days she gained 8 oz more than they wanted her to. Also formula is heavier than breastmilk and babies get full faster. Formula is good but breast in my opinion is best. I still use both. So I think its just a learning process as long as nothing else is wrong and she has wet/soiled diapers and seems content the weight will come. Hang in there!!

I had the same issue, I tried to breastfeed in the hospital and my supply was not flowing good at all and I felt so bad. When my daughter was born, she weighed 8 pounds and then once we left, she was 7 pounds and the doctor had me bring her in every week until she gained more than her birth weight but my problem was I did not have enough milk to support her appetite. We worked out just fine with formula and she's been gaining every since. Like the other mother said, as long as she has normal bowel and urination, then she is getting enough milk.

I would not worry though, as long as you are feeding her as often as she'd like and you are taking her to the doctor and there are no other issues, I would not worry about it but if it continues to bother you, try supplementing with some formula. Talk with your doctor first to see what is the best for you and your daughter.

This happened to us as well. my little didn't gain enough weight by 2 weeks and the dr determined I wasn't making a enough milk. I had to supplement with formula. So I nursed first and then have her 2 to 4 ounces a formula, that did the trick for us. She weaned herself at 3 months, we think because she had a cold. But doing both worked ok til then. Good luck. My daughter was extremely fussy, and screamed and cried the first two weeks, I thought she was just fussy/colicky but it turned out she was being underfed. As soon as we started supplementing she was like a different baby...

My first son, now 2 years old, lost "too much" too, going from 5.10 down to 4.12, but he came through it fine. I was SOO worried too since it really didn't seem like he had much to lose with already being tiny and just with it being your baby, your natural mother instinct is to worry of course. The reason for him was that he was too sleepy to eat. He was 5 weeks early and had jaundice that made him extra sleepy, but even with that, we just plugged away trying to keep him awake to eat and he came back up. 3 days IS way too early to talk about supplementing I agree. 3-4 days I think was when my son bottomed out with his weight and then it came back up without supplementing. It helped my piece of mind tremendously to pump and bottle feed some to be sure he was taking in ounces. Supplementing is such a slippery slope sometimes. Sticking with the breastfeeding when it's tough in the beginning makes it so much easier later on. I hope you are getting some sleep. I clearly remember how terrified I was when they told me my son was losing too much weight, so I can definitely empathize with you. Best wishes to you with your growing family! :)

I think if you decide not to supplement, someone (probably a LC) should see the baby every few days until you're sure she's gaining. Is she showing any signs of jaundice?

I think breastfeeding exclusively is great, and I agree that supplementing can interfere with supply if you don't cut back on the supplement, but formula is not poison either. I wouldn't supplement with every feed, but if a once-a-day supplement keeps things moving along until your milk supply is completely in, it's an easy-enough way to make sure baby is healthy and put your mind at ease. I agree with the advice to talk to an LC right away.

My firstborn was showing signs of jaundice on day 3 when we called in an LC, who helped us to get breastfeeding going - and she recommended a supplement. Without the supplement, he probably would have ended up in the hospital under lights for the jaundice. Watch for the wet/dirty diapers (tip - put a kleenex in the diaper, which will help you to tell if the diaper was used - the newborn pee is so tiny.) Watch for her pee getting more yellow/orange. And definitely watch for little crystals in the pee - that would indicate dehydration.

WOW- what an overwhelming amount of responses you have!

I, too, was in the same situation as you. I actually had an "on-call" pediatrician in the hospital tell me I could not breastfeed my daughter on the second day of her life because she had lost weight and that I should definitely formula feed her. Luckily, I had done nothing but read about babies while I was pregnant and knew that babies lost weight after they were born. This doesn't mean that he didn't undermine my self-confidence though!

After taking her home (still exclusively breastfeeding her!) I found a pediatrician who was pro-breastfeeding and would let me bring her in anytime I wanted to weigh her, which really helped. I was also pretty obsessive about counting her diapers, which helped my peace of mind on a day-to-day basis!

My 8lb 9oz baby is now 6 years old, she was breastfed for 5 months exclusively, nursed until she was 3.5 yrs old, and eats like a horse now, but guess what? She is still only in the 10% percentile according to the pediatrician's office and weighs in at a whopping 37 lbs- that's right. I know some 3 yr olds who outweigh her! But she is healthy as can be!

The moral of the story: Trust your instincts! If you want to exclusively breastfeed, visit a LLL meeting, call the hospital and ask to speak with a lactation consultant or find one online. One visit is expensive, but it is WORTH IT! Feed your baby on demand- this might mean every 2 hours, or every 10 minutes for awhile!

Also, something that helped me- I had a very sleepy baby who was so comforted by the breast that she would just "sip" and then fall asleep there (but nowhere else! LOL) and the LC told me to gently massage her shoulder to get her to reflexively suck- it worked! I would just very gently rotate or "shrug" her shoulder and she would rouse just enough to begin nursing again.

Don't give up! Don't let one person's comment make you feel like you are starving your baby or not doing the best thing in the world by nursing! I know how fragile we can be in our self-confidence when we have just given birth, and you need to find encouragement right now, not DIScouragement!

Best of wishes to you and CONGRATULATIONS on your new baby!!!
A. R.
-I'm also an aspiring lactation consultant if you couldn't tell! :)
(you can feel free to email me anytime at ____@____.com)

I agree with the previous message 100%. I have a 2 month old and the first 2-3 days he slept sooo much more than he ate (that whole "coming down the birth canal") was a little much for him and he was TIRED.

I think 3 days is wayyyyy wayyyy too early to talk about supplementing. Definately talk to a LaLeche League mom. Plus, if your daughter was 10lbs at birth its different to loose over a pound versus a 5lb baby losing a pound, you know?

And remember, your pediatrician works for YOU, not the other way around. He or she can certainly recommend that you supplement, but you are under no obligation to follow those recommendations. I just re-read your message . . .it was the NURSE that said this???

Also, being the mom of a 3 year old who had severe weight gain issues (my first was a preemie), they may fluctuate up and down each day, doctors normally only look at the week to week gain or loss - not 3 days and certainly not the FIRST 3 days of life.

Count those diaps and poops, I would bet that after a week, you will see some gaining.

I scanned through some of the other posting and it looks like you have a lot of good information. I don't know if anyone has talked about how much the weight can fluxuate just based on if the NB just wet or pooped. Our little one as premature and in the hospital for 3 weeks in the NICU. That meant lots of being weighed and me stressing about every little ounce. My little guy was given breastmilk and they fortified my milk for a bit to help him gain weight. I did not want him to have formula, so the compromise was for them to boost my milk with formula. I was pumping while he was in the hospital, so that is the only thing, you would need to pump and give him a feeding through a bottle. We had absoluately no problem with him going from bottle to breast, and he was even given a pacifier pretty much the whole time he was in the hospital to stimulate his sucking reflex. So anyway, that might be a way to not have to do a full formula supplement.

But I would agree, if the nurse is pushing you to start to supplement, first talk to your doctor, and if you are still feeling pushed see if there is a LC in their practice or one they recommend. I don't know if I would feel comfortable with a nurse telling me to start to supplement based on 2 weigh-ins (because of the poop and wet diaper thing I mentioned before). Our son seriously would loose a big amount of weight at his weigh-in if he had just had a poop or a really full wet diaper. We had wonderful doctors and nurses at the hospital who were telling us to not be so concerned about the weight from weigh-in to weigh-in, but to look at it for a 1 day period. Oh!!!! I just remembered how once we went home from the hospital, our Ped told us if the office uses a different scale, you can seriously be off a a good number ounces, even digital scales. So make sure they are using the same scale, and remember you will have a difference in scales based on when weighed at the hospital and your doctor's office.

Hope that helps some.

Hi E.:

I'm a board certified lactation consultant. Your daughter has a little more than a 10% weight loss. We generally don't want it to drop less than that. What you need to do before beginning the whole supplementation thing with formula is to see a lactation consultant asap. I'm not sure where you live, however, if you go to www.medela.com, they list many lactation consultants by zip code. Very often a lactation consultant has to check how you're positioning and latching the baby, how she's transferring milk at the breast (They carry digital scales that measure milk intake)and the number of feeds in 24 hours, as well as wet and dirty diapers. You can also call Prentice's breastfeeding helpline at ###-###-####. It's free for everyone. I hope that helps. Who is your pediatrician? They should have someone to refer you to as well.


My bigger babies lost more then my smaller babies. They have a little extra to spare and as some one else mentioned some might be water weight esp common in bigger babies. As long as you are nursing on demand, and you can hear her swallowing I would wait. Of course unless there are other symptoms of dehydration. I never knew with two of mine when my milk came in till I started getting forceful let downs, but you should hear baby swallowing with just colostum too.

My daughter was born at 8 lbs 6 oz, and before we even left the hospital she lost one pound. I breastfed, so they had me supplement with formula after each time I nursed. After I nursed I gave her 1 to 2 oz of formula, and that was enough. Within a week she started gaining her weight back and I was able to stop supplementing and breastfeed full time. She is 10 weeks old and still breastfeeding. Supplementing is a means to an end, and when your daughter starts gaining again, you won't have to give it to her anymore. Hang in there!

Hi E.,
Congratulations on the baby girl!! My son also lost more than the 10%. I had via C-section and I personally think he lost more because his fluid wasn't squeezed out of him like a vaginal delivery does to other babies. Sadly the first thing they recommended was to supplement with formula. I was very determined not to do this and told the ped that I would talk to the lactation consultant at the hospital. She and I talked and I pumped colostrum the first 2 days until my milk came in. We gave it to my son with a medicine dropper/syringe. He gained some grams and they let him go home (they threatened to keep him in the hospital if he didn't gain weight). From this point on he started gaining 1 lb per week!! He did great. I breastfed on demand, watched his wet diapers, and when he cluster fed I stuck with it (even though that was a very tough period). If you are determined to do this then go with your instinct. Mine was to breastfeed exclusively, not give formula (unless there was a serious problem of course), and to not give a bottle for the first few weeks. Loosing weight is SO NORMAL. It is a shame that they scare new parents with this very common aspect of a newborns first few days. Good luck and tell us how things go.

PS The pediatricians etc did not pressure me. I said I would talk to the lactation consultant and take care of it and they let me do my thing. So be confident if you feel that you do not want to supplement.

My little one lost more weight than the doctors wanted as well. I supplemented with a premmie formula. It had a little "extra" than regular formula. It just took a week or so to bulk her up.

She had absolutely no problem breastfeeding and formula feeding. No problem going from bf to a bottle.

It is an anxious time for you. I remember it verry well. It will pass.

Consider the formula. BF should go just fine as well.

it could be very small. Babies do lose wieght, and that don't worry so much about it when my daughter was born they said she had a oversized bladder and they will have to do surgery right after she comes out. well they were wrong. Just let them check her over. she should be just fine

It's totally normal for a baby to lose weight following birth. Up to 10% of body weight is considered the healthy range. If your baby was 10 lbs then weighing 9 lbs now would be totally expected, so she has lost only very slightly more than one would expect. If you had a lot of IV fluids when you were in labor it can sometimes have the baby carry more water weight and therefore lose more. If you had gestational diabetes or gained a lot of weight with your pregnancy a little more weight loss would also be normal.

Three days may even be a little early for your milk to have come in. Do you feel engorged? Are you feeling let-down when you are nursing? Your milk should really just be coming in around now.

You can tell if your daughter is getting enough to eat if she is peeing (1 time the first day, 2 times the second day, etc and after 4 days at least 4-6 times a day) and having stools (at least one a day os good for now). If her soft spots do not seem sunken in and her mouth is moist she is not dehydrated.

I would recommend scheduling an appointment with a lactation consultant right away. Definitely before supplementing. The lactation consultant will be able to weigh the baby to see if she is getting an adequate amount of milk and if her latch is okay.

Starting to supplement now can negatively affect your supply for later. I say that from personal experience:( as well as being a doula, student nurse and lactation educator. It's better to find out why the baby is losing weight and if there even is a problem or not. You will probably find that her weight will stabilize within a day or so as your milk matures.

PS- Also make sure they use the same scale the next time they weigh her. If it is even an ounce or so off it will make a huge difference. Please do see a lactation consultant or call a La Leche League leader in your area (www.laleche.org). Keep us posted!

Please don't despair! This is OK. I have three children and one due in Feb. This happened to me and the baby will be fine. If you supplement with formula your milk production will suffer. As long as she is nursing regularly, having wet and soiled diapers there really is nothing to worry about. I ended up switching doctors because they were treating me so badly about my daughter's weight gain. She was very alert, active, and healthy in every way, and I decided it wasn't worth it to keep coming in and checking her weight constantly. I would nurse her right til they weighed her, and then sometimes she would have a wet diaper right before the weight check and I was in torment. I just decided to follow my insticts, knowing that she was healthy, and waited a while. Then when she was more than a few months old, I found a doctor that would respect me. They had also prescribed drinking Fenugreek tea and taking Fenugreek tablets to increase milk production. All that did was give my baby green stools that were constantly disturbing her sleep because she was always pooping, and it was making her fussy and hard to console. I stopped that and stopped going to the doctor for a while and everything was fine. I am in no ways against the medical profession. My brother is a doctor. I just felt that they were not helping me in any way, and I needed to be the mother that I knew I was without all that angst. I hope you can trust yourself. You are a powerful woman and a mother. You know more than you think and you are taking great care of your baby. Our bodies were made for this. Have faith in yourself, and don't doubt your ability to nurture your baby without supplements!


You may want to contact a lactation consultant before you consider supplementing. Your baby is SO brand new & you don't want to do anything to interfere with your breastfeeding relationship if you can help it.

You can find LCs by visiting: www.birthlink.com - a great resource!

Good luck to you!

- A.

I think that it is fairly normal for a nb to lose this much. However, to boost your milk supply and get dd to eat more, why don't you do what they call a "lay-in". Basically just stay in bed with baby and drink lots of water and nurse for extended periods of time. If staying in bed is not practical, the put baby in a front carrier and nurse very frequently while you carry her around all day. Both just being close to baby and nursing frequently will help. Also, you can pump after every feeding or first thing in the morning to build supply.

That said, if baby continues to lose weight, do see a lactation consultant rather than a nurse and call LLL. NW community and the Alexian network hospitals both have great lactation consultants...they'll weigh baby before and after you nurse her to see just how much milk she is getting. Should be covered under your insurance, too. My pediatricians are a little trigger-happy on the formula. I always do better seeking help with the LCs or an experienced LLL leader.

Like others said, I would not be concerned. You probably haven't gotten your milk in yet, just the colostrum. It is waaaaaayyyyy to early to be talking about supplementing. a newborn should eat 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. As long as she is doing this, and has the appropriate number of soiled diapers and doesn't have signs of dehydration, I would pay no attention to that nurse. Most drs and nurses in actuality know VERY little about breastfeeding. If your milk has come in...you will KNOW it cause you will be very uncomfortable. If that hasn't happened yet, I wouldn't be concerned, as long as it happens in the next couple days. If you continue to have weight issues I would go to a LC and have them check your latch and do the weighing thing.

That is weird that the doctor would or nurse would say that. I think that is normal she lost like 1 pound and 2 ounces my daughter lost around or maybe a little more. If you are breastfeeding what seems like all the time then I wouldn't worry too much. I am sure you probably know but just make sure you are waking to feed every so many hours, don't let them sleep through and I am sure she will be fine.

Hi there. The same thing happened to my first daughter. She was losing weight very rapidly and the doctors were concerned. They had me go to formula which didn't seem to work. They then prescribed her a liquid medicine that we inserted into her bottles at every feeding. This was effective (somewhat) but very costly. Once I talked to my doctor about the issues and concerns he said he wanted to try something that might also work that was much cheaper and more convienient. He said vegetable oil also works as a fatty liquid that might cause her to gain weight! We started taking a capful of vegetable oil at each feeding and placing it in the bottle. Shake it and feed it to her. Surprisingly, she loved it! I know, yuck...but it worked! She started gaining weight like crazy.
Although, this doesn't sound very appetizing, it did work.
She was later diagnosed with extremly high metabolism and still is very skinny at 11years old. Hope this helps!

I really don't think that you should or need to supplement. Breastfeed on demand and make sure that she is nursing at least every 3-4 hours and wake her up if you have to. Please look into the the Baby Book by Dr Sears. Its a wonderful book that helped me with my "fussy baby" as he puts it. I don't know where I would be right now without his incredible wisdom. I was fortunate to find this book right after my son was born and it gave me the confidence to trust my motherly instinct over some of the doctors silly advice. Your daughter will be just find. Trust yourself and trust your gut feeling.

My daighter was 9.14 at birth and went down to 8.12 in the hospital. My doctor said not to worry, she was such a big baby the weight loss would not hurt her. I would not supplement yet. I didn't and my baby started to gain weight in a few days. You may want to pump and try giving her your breastmilk in a bottle. Maybe she is not nursing as good as she should. Supplementing with formula this early will hurt your milk suppy. If you decide to give her formula, make sure to pump while she is having the bottle so you milk supply is increasing. Good luck!

I had the same thing happen with my son. 4 days after he was born, he had lost a full pound. You're right, some weight loss is normal (about 10% of their birth weight), but a pound (or more in your daughter's case) is too much. In my case, I was not producing enough breastmilk. I had to supplement with formula. It was SO hard on me because formula was never an option to me - I was planning to breastfeed and that was it. But because my body just did not produce enough (and it turned out that I never did produce much and had to eventually stop even trying), formula was the way to go to keep from starving my beautiful child. Your nurse did the right thing. If your daughter hasn't gained weight, supplementing with formula is the best thing to do. Good luck to you!

I wouldn't be so fast to supplement, there is a great latasion group at Sweetpeas Studio in Chicago that worked wonders for me in the first couple of weeks. My son had a hard time getting latched properly, so wasn't getting enough milk for a few days. But once I got help he continued being a breast only baby for 6 months, and nursed until after his second birthday.

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