Q: Good day Doc. Please I have a 5months and 3 weeks old baby. I went to the hospital and checked her weight and she weighs 6.8 kg. The doc said dat she is not gaining enough weight because as at 4 months, she weighs 6kg. I am confused on what to do because she weighed 3.6kg at birth. I expected her to be big by now but she is not. What should I do? Thank you
A: Thanks for writing in.
Well, this will be a cause for concern for any mother. However, it all depends on what the doctor found on examination. Healthy babies may go through periods when they are not adding weight or doing so minimally. The doctor will be more worried about the trend, for instance what is happening to the baby’s growth from one clinic attendance to the next.
The issues could be feeding issues. The doctor would want to know how many wet diapers your baby makes per day to determine if she’s getting enough. Is your baby ill? When babies are ill, they lose weight or may stop adding any. Other causes of weight loss or not gaining weight could be infections (ear, urinary tract etc), tongue tie, anaemia etc. Your doctor will examine your baby to make a proper diagnosis.
To help out with the feeding, here are some tips:
From birth to 6 months, please focus on exclusive breastfeeding with not even a drop of water. Try feeding your baby more often, ensuring that you feed from both breasts for each meal or even using both breasts several times during the same feed.
Your baby is almost at the point of weaning and so, the following is also useful.
From six months, baby is ready to be introduced to some other food.
For a long time, the standard teaching had been to go for rice cereal as the first add-on meal because it is bland and babies tolerate this well. Other studies question this wisdom now and suggest that foods like meats with lots of essential nutrients like iron may be a good place to start. What should you do? You can boil beef/chicken very soft and blend it up for baby. If baby tolerates this, then by the next week, you could try adding some rice cereal. Try not to introduce more than one food per week so that you have time to study how your baby adapts to it and of course, look out for/isolate food allergy. And, to start off, only one meal of the complementary feed should be given daily. The rest should be the usual…breast milk 😀 This will, of course, as baby tolerates.
Generally, foods to start off weaning should be just slightly thicker than milk and so, if it retains its shape on a spoon, it may be too thick.
From 9 months, baby can be allowed to start experimenting with regular family meals…minus the spices, of course 😀
From one year of age, you can add the cereals mentioned in the question and it’s also okay to introduce cow milk at this time. Full cream cow milk is advocated at this time for proper brain development. Thereafter, please switch to skimmed/1%/2% milk as full cream milk has a lot of saturated fat which may contribute to poor heart health. Grains, green leafy vegetables, cow milk, honey, whole eggs can generally be introduced after the baby turns 1 year old.
Generally, other weaning foods that can be introduced include:
Boiled egg yolk (egg whites contain substances that baby may react to), sweet potatoes, fish, chicken, beef, fruits like banana, avocados, boiled beans (with skin removed if possible etc
Simple recipes include, blend some chicken or beef with the stock or mash a banana and add to baby’s cereal.
Our local cereals can also be used and fortified with some breast milk or formula.
As baby tolerates these meals, you can get a little more adventurous.
Boiled carrots mashed with some coconut oil or a little yoghurt with mashed banana may not go amiss too.
An example of a recipe I make for my children is boil potatoes in a pot and place a stainless plate on top of the pot. Add your egg yolk and a drop Olive oil and when the yolk is cooked and potatoes soft, mash all together and feed baby.
Now I know we are all very busy, but weaning is no easy task and so we must commit to trying as much as to prepare these meals ourselves. Packaged meals usually contain additives that may trigger problems/allergies etc in the baby. Hygiene is also critical!
I hope y’all had a great day?
Good night 😀