Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Breastfeeding and new baby growth charts

Posted on: May 8, 2009

Just in time for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week (next week) www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk/en/fe/page.asp?n1=5&n2=13 the Department of Health has announced that baby growth charts – against which all babies physical growth is measured and compared – are to be redrawn.

The figures used until now have been based mainly on formula-fed babies. This has meant that some breastfeeding mothers have been incorrectly advised that their babies are gaining insufficient weight.  The new tables, drawn up by the World Health Organisation (WHO), are based entirely on the rate of growth of breastfed babies, which tend to put on weight more slowly than those given formula milk in their first year.

It is generally accepted that babies fed on formula put on weight more quickly than those on breastmilk, which can make breastfed babies look like they are not thriving.  Consequently, there might have been pressure to wean early on to solid foods or formula milk.  In fact it is a WHO recommendation that babies receive only breastmilk for the first six months of their life, www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/, it is then recommended that breastmilk be supplemented with solid food, but that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months.

Breastfed babies are leaner during the time when a lifetime supply of fat cells are laid down, which helps explain why breastfed babies may tend to be leaner throughout their lifetimes, thus helping to prevent obesity.  This said, many breastfed babies appear quite “chubby” – this is normal and healthy.

Fewer than one in two mothers still breastfeed at six weeks and this falls to 25% at six months. Fewer than 1% of mothers follow official advice to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of an infant’s life.

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2 Responses to "Breastfeeding and new baby growth charts"

I am so glad you posted about this… I have had NOTHING but problems with Libby and breastfeeding. I’m still feeding her but her weight has been dropping through the percentiles ever since birth basically and the health visitors point blank told me I was starving her, she needed formula and I should start her on solids at 15 weeks and feed her lots of potatoes and pasta baby food…

Of course I refused and now have to take her to the hospital on Tuesday to be checked over by a Dr. Blah.

If I wasn’t so set on breastfeeding I’d have quit before now… As it is I think she’s healthy and thriving and carried on doing my own thing and have now been feeding her for over 6 months! Am dreading the hospital appointment though… I’ve got the article that I cut out from the paper on this to take it with me!

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