Concerned about milk supply before starting solids

My baby is four months old. She was over nine pounds at birth, but she was only 12 lbs 8oz at her fourth month check-up. The doctor is not too concerned and said to keep doing what I am doing. I have never been a heavy milk producer. I usually can pump about 3.5 oz at a time, but dont ever seem to feel a let down like I do when she nurses. Is there some way I can make my milk more nutritious - or fatty - to help her get her weight up? Or is she just long and lean like her dad? The doctor also wants me to introduce solids before six months. I want to be sure my milk is where it needs to be before I risk affecting my supply with the introduction of solids.

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It sounds like your milk supply is just fine, and that your baby is growing normally. If she was 16 weeks old at her four month weight check, she gained 56 ounces since birth. Allowing her two weeks to return to her birth weight, in the remaining 14 weeks she averaged a four ounce gain per week. This is within the normal range. Babies gain an average of four to eight ounces a week in their first three to four months of life. From four to six months a baby's weight gain may slow slightly - to between three and five ounces a week.

Your milk is absolutely perfect as is! It is providing your little one with all the nutrients she needs - in just the perfect proportions - along with immunological properties for as long as she continues to nurse. Nothing else could compete!

You may find that it helps to allow your little one to finish the first breast offered - coming off on her own - before offering the other side. This will allow her to access your rich hindmilk. As the feed progresses, the fat content of your milk rises (Woolridge & Fisher, 1988). If she is still interested in nursing after coming off the other breast, it's fine to put her back to the first side. For some feeds your baby may just be thirsty, and will just want a few sips, while at other times, she may "camp out" much longer than her typical feed. As long as your little one continues to be happy, healthy and growing well, you can be certain that she is getting just what she needs.

To help keep your supply abundant while starting solids, nurse your little one just before a meal. As you begin to offer your little one her first tastes of solid foods, proceed gradually. Too large a quantity of solid foods can decrease your milk supply, and will also decrease the amount of breastmilk your baby will desire. Because the nutritional content of solid foods can vary dramatically, it is very important to make breastmilk the priority during a baby's first year of life. See my letter, Starting solids: When is your baby ready? for more information on beginning solid foods. Best wishes in mothering!

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