Will delayed growth hinder future development?

My wife took our son for his eight month check-up and he is not gaining weight normally. He weighed only 17 pounds and is 26 1/2 inches in length. We are not large people, so understandably he will be somewhat smaller, but the failure to gain weight has me concerned. I think he has actually lost weight since his six month visit. I suspect that we may have pushed solids too much, and as a result he nurses less. I am really concerned that failure to grow now may hinder his development in the future.

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

I am glad that you alerted me to the fact that neither you nor your wife are large. As you pointed out, you may just be dealing with a baby who is not going to be big. Also, it is very normal for babies to go through different periods of growth -- with normal fluctuations. It is, after all, simply one check-up. Major changes over time are more important.

A slow down in weight gain now will not jeopardize his future development. However, what could jeopardize his future development is a lack of the appropriate nutrients. Your son is in a critical period of development, and plenty of the right stuff is required. That means adequate protein, calcium, iron, and a multitude of vitamins and minerals.

Breastmilk, which is high in fat and dense in calories, is all that a baby needs to thrive until at least four to six months of age. Although it is somewhat low in iron, what it does have is very well-absorbed. It contains the best mix of carbohydrate, fat and protein for a baby. By six months, it would be smart to introduce an iron fortified infant cereal, since an iron deficiency in infancy can have lifelong effects.

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