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Does it matter if an ebf baby is not fed very much?

(16 Posts)
snowgum Wed 12-Aug-09 12:47:23

I have two friends whose ebf babies were normal birth weight, but after a few months they were quite small and skinny.

Friend 1) Baby was bfed to a routine every four hours and in between only allowed
to drink fennel tea. He was very small and skinny. Now he is around 18 months old
and seems to be catching up to his peers in size.

Friend 2) Very quiet baby, given dummy straight away and spent a lot of time in a
pram (i.e. not close to her mum). Slept in own room after a few weeks. Never cries
only whimpers quietly on occasion, and consequently only gets fed every 3 - 4 hours.
She is 5mo now and also very small and skinny.

I am inclined to think both these babies would have fed a lot more often given the
opportunity. For some reason this upsets me a bit as I feel like they missed out.
But I am wondering .... does it matter? Does it make any difference in the long run
to their health or wellbeing?

tiktok Wed 12-Aug-09 12:53:30

Hmm....I think I'd agree with you that these babies have missed out, not just on the opportunity to have more breastmilk and to grow a bit better, but on the opportunity to have a lovely, communicative, intimate and responsive relationship with their mothers.

They will get over the health effects of being slightly-underfed in the first months more easily than that.....IMO.

But imposs. to be sure or to measure.

snowgum Wed 12-Aug-09 12:59:12

Yes you're right (of course tiktok!) they have missed out on a lot of cuddling which is
sad. But it's also interesting that being a bit underfed doesn't really matter for their
physical health.

Grammaticus Wed 12-Aug-09 13:05:55

Hmm. I had two ebf babies. The first was also very quiet (though he didn't have a dummy). I fed him every 4 hours or so after the first two weeks when it was more frequent. He was born on the 50th centile and went up to the 91st after about 5 months.

The second was a bit more vocal but still fed every 4 hours or so as described above, still no dummy. Also went up the charts but can't remember how far as he wasn't my pfb!

I didnt give anything else and they went in their own rooms after 6 weeks. I did feed to a routine.

Not sure what that tells you really - except that they can get plenty of milk on the bf routine that you describe.

snowgum Wed 12-Aug-09 13:18:04

I'm sure it depends very much on the baby, but these two were very small and skinny,
so I guess not taking in as much milk in one sitting as your babies.

tiktok Wed 12-Aug-09 13:21:26

I think the main difference between snowgum's friends' babies and yours, grammaticus, was the the other babies were not 'allowed' to feed more often, and seem consequently not to have gained weight, and had their needs ignored.

Some babies can gain weight just fine on four hrly routines, I know

Grammaticus Wed 12-Aug-09 13:25:26

Yes I see what you mean (and I wouldn't have given the fennel tea, personally.) But baby 2 here doesn't cry so what makes us think she is hungry? Every 3 or 4 hours sounds plenty to me!

tiktok Wed 12-Aug-09 13:32:59

Baby 2 might be fine - if there is a lot of smiling and happiness and giggles as well as the 'only whimpers'. Maybe there is.
Maybe she is naturally skinny and small - some babies are.

LovelyTinOfSpam Wed 12-Aug-09 13:43:29

fennel tea???

snowgum Wed 12-Aug-09 14:07:34

I live in Austria .... fennel tea is very popular for young babies here. I'm not sure why.

snowgum Wed 12-Aug-09 14:09:44

grammaticus: I don't think either baby was unhappy or not well cared for.

Reallytired Wed 12-Aug-09 14:47:04

I think that babies make it known if they are hungry.

Friend 2 baby sounds a bit like my daughter except that my daughter sleeps in a side cot in our room and my duaghter is not skinny at all. At the moment my daughter is sitting on my lap gurgling away.

Breastfed babies are naturally smaller, its often the bottlefed babies that are overweight rather than the breatfed babies being under weight .

tiktok Wed 12-Aug-09 15:26:01

Hm, bf babies are not 'naturally smaller' until well after six months though - then at a year there is indeed a small difference between the average weight of a bf baby and that of a ff baby.

It is possible for babies not to let it be known they need feeding - I am not saying this applies to any of the babies described here by any means, but speaking generally only. Babies whose needs are often ignored stop 'asking'. Also, some very laid back, happy babies, often in busy households where there is a lot going on and where they do get other attention, are so relaxed they sort of accept their place at the end of the queue. This is unusual, but it does happen, and it's happened here on mumsnet. Typical scenario would be a third baby, with two siblings with busy time tables for nursery, school, play dates and so on - then at about three months or so mum gets a fright because she's told the baby is under-fed. 'He's such a happy little thing,' she says 'Only feeds every four or five hours.' Anyway, it's easily fixed by feeding the baby more often.

I dont think there is any study or formal 'case studies' - just it does happen from time to time!

chibi Wed 12-Aug-09 16:07:38

some babies can just be small, though, right? my dd was born 8 lb 14 oz but over the 1st 3 months slipped to the 9th centile.

she was fed every 2 hours, latch was observed + judged fine, i had her looked at by a gp as well + he was ok with her growth.

i really did not enjoy the first 6 months of her life (til weaning really) because i was constantlty afraid I was starving her, paranoid that she wasn't growing fast enough, and just generally down as every other baby i saw was a nice big roly poly one.

she is 2yo now and on the 50th centile, so it is good to hear that her being underfed won't have any lasting effects, probably. sad

my son is 5 weeks old (corrected for prem) and is also on the 9th centile...am i failing again? he is gaining 5.5 - 6 oz a week, i can't seem to get him to take more.

i really shouldn't have opened this thread! sad

Reallytired Wed 12-Aug-09 16:12:26

I don't see the health visitor, there is no opportunity for her to give me a fright. grin I also think that I know more about breastfeeding than the health visitor.

I know my duaghter is putting on weight because she is growing. She is learnng to sit up at the moment and making lots of wonderful baby noises.

Sometimes my daughter is so excited by the world going on around her that she does not want to feed even if offered.

In most parts of the world babies have siblings and the world does not revolve round them. I also think second born children have more fun than first borns. Even if the second/ third born children get less attention they also get fewer mistakes made on them.

tiktok Wed 12-Aug-09 17:21:15

chibi - loads of babies are on or below the 9th centile. 9 per cent of them, in fact
It doesn't matter - if a baby is healthy and happy and growing and not suddenly losing, then the assumption should be he's fine

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