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Weight gain in breastfed babies

Advice for breastfeeding and what to expect as your baby gains weight and goes through growth spurts.

In the first few days, it is normal for a baby to lose up to 10% of their birth weight. If your baby’s weight loss is over 10%, your midwife or public health nurse will check their feeding pattern.

They will look at:

  • how well they are attaching to the breast
  • how they are transferring milk
  • how many dirty nappies they have

By day 5, when feeding is going well, your baby will start to gain weight. It can take up to 2 weeks for a baby to get back to their birth weight. Some babies gain weight faster than this.

In the first 3 months, breastfed babies usually gain around 150 to 200 grams a week. Your public health nurse will record and track your baby’s growth patterns.

Growth spurts

Some days, your baby will feed more often than usual. This may last for 2 to 3 days and then your baby will settle back into a similar pattern to before. This is called a growth spurt. It doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk. Feeding your baby more often will help increase your milk supply to meet their growing appetite.

Related topic

Concern about your breast milk supply

During a growth spurt, your baby may seem hungry all the time and your breasts can feel empty. This is because your baby is taking the milk as it is made and not allowing time for your breasts to feel full. Your milk supply will soon respond to the frequent feeds. You might find that your breasts feel too full after a growth spurt but this will settle down in a few days.

Growth spurts may happen when your baby reaches:

  • 2 to 3 weeks
  • 6 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 5 to 6 months

As these times approach, prepare to spend 2 to 3 days feeding more often than usual. You may find it a good time to rest and relax.

Feeding changes

As your baby grows, so does their tummy. Offer both breasts at each feed. Your baby will feed for longer from the first breast and for a shorter time from the second breast. Some babies may only need to feed from one breast per feed.

Your baby’s stomach is only the size of a cherry in the first few days. Small regular amounts of milk will be more than enough to fill their tiny tummy. Expect to feed 10 to 12 times in 24 hours at this stage.

Related topic

Overfeeding breastfed babies

Page last reviewed: 15/03/2019
Next review due: 15/03/2022