Feeding Your Baby Enough But Not Too Much

Patient Expert

There is a fine line between feeding your baby with Gastroesophageal Reflux enough but not too much. Most likely, you and the doctor track your baby's growth on a growth chart. After weighing and measuring your baby at each check up, the doctor places a mark on a chart that shows growth averages by age and gender, a pink chart for girls and a blue chart for boys. The next time you are in the doctor's office, ask the doctor or nurse to show you the growth chart.

Based on the information on the growth chart, the doctor may make recommendations about how you feed your baby.

If your baby is gaining weight slowly compared to other babies her age, the doctor may:

·         Increase the number of feedings per day

·         Increase the amount of each feeding

·         Add calories to the formula

·         Add a weight check between well visits

If your baby is gaining rapidly, the doctor may suggest:

·         Decreasing or eliminating night feedings

·         Ask you to offer a pacifier instead of offering the breast or bottle

·         Keep the amount of the feedings the same rather than increasing

If your baby is losing weight, the doctor may:

·         Ask you to bring the baby in for extra weight checks

·         Increase calories

·         Increase the number of feedings per day

·         Increase the amount offered at each feeding

Note: Keep in mind that every baby is different and your doctor may have different recommendations for your baby based on her medical history, needs and growth pattern.

While we often associate reflux with poor weight gain and weight loss, some babies with reflux gain weight easily and may even be overweight. Some babies want to nurse or drink from a bottle to self soothe or push the acid back down.

In addition, it may be hard to read her signs. Is she crying because she is hungry or is her reflux bothering her? As parents, we are inclined to try feeding "just in case" she is hungry. However, this can add extra calories and even cause her to be overly full, leading to a stomach ache or painful burp.

If she is eating just fine and then suddenly stops, turns away and fusses, she may be communicating that she is full and can't possible drink another drop of milk. Again, these signals may be unclear and we might assume the fussiness and poor eating are due to painful reflux when the truth is, she is just full.

Keep in mind that the growth charts are based on averages. Some babies grow slowly as infants and grow up to be tall basketball stars while other babies are small and petite from day one. Some babies grow rapidly during the first year and hover on the top of the growth chart and slow down to a more average rate of growth during the toddler years. Doctors are concerned that rapid weight gain during the first year may put some infants at risk for childhood obesity.