Fact check: Breastfed Babies Grow Differently

Avoiding Saggy Breast Syndrome After Nursing

When I open up Pinterest, I always have a full page of beautiful breastfeeding pictures, yummy looking desserts and a few funny sayings. The page looks different every time I open it. In fact, I put off opening it because I know I can’t NOT look at all those tempting pictures. If I leave them until later they will be gone! I might miss something! So…I often choose to miss it all.

Looking at the breastfeeding pins, there is a how-to for everything: “7 tips to get baby latched”, “How to successfully pump long term”, “How to tell exactly how many calories you are burning by breastfeeding”, “15 ways breastfeeding completely messes with your sanity”, “6 tips for breastfeeding success after a c-section”.

You’ve got advice from your mom, your doctor, your husband, the hospital, your friends and everyone you meet on the street who sees you are pregnant or have a baby…and now you have Pinterest. With the phrase “Fools tread where angels fear to go” in mind, I am going to do a bit of my own “fact checking” for Pinterest’s breastfeeding offerings from time to time.

Here is my first.

Breastfed Babies Grow Differently

This pin gets pretty good marks!

4b303d1e-aa66-4001-8667-6cb1d9decb7aBrittany at The Pistachio Project points out that there are different growth charts being used by doctors. Before you get too concerned about where your baby falls on the charts, check that you are using the chart developed by the World Health Organization. Unlike the charts previously developed in the 50’s which were based on formula fed babies’ growth, WHO spent years gathering data from industrialized communities where families had access to adequate resources and who were breastfeeding their babies…the physiological norm for humans.

An easy way to tell for sure you are using WHO-based charts: look at the growth line at the far left, i.e. the first week of life. If the line dips down a bit, you have the right chart. It’s normal for breastfed babies to lose a little weight at the beginning before they start gaining.

And yes, breastfed babies DO grow differently than bottle fed babies.

A note of caution. Brittany wrote this in 2011. It may well be that the WHO charts are more widely used by doctors in the US now.

Bottom line: We seek comfort in numbers and seeing your baby’s growth on a chart is reassuring. But it is only one measure. Is your baby peeing and pooping regularly? Is he developing and learning new things, reaching developmental milestones? How big are this baby’s parents and grandparents? Consider all of these things for the whole picture.

We want to know what you think!