Weight monitoring of breastfed babies in the United Kingdom – interpreting, explaining and intervening

Magda Sachs BA, MA (Cantab), Fiona Dykes PhD, MA, Cert Ed, ADM, RGN, RM and Bernie Carter PhD, PGCE, BSC, SRN, RSCN
Matern Child Nutr. 2006 Jan;2(1):3-18.


Weighing infants in their first 6 months is an important aspect of growth monitoring and a common activity of child health care services worldwide. During the same 6 months, support for establishing breastfeeding and the promotion of continued exclusive breastfeeding are important activities of health professionals. Parents and health professionals may perceive conflicts between achieving both robust growth and continuing breastfeeding. In this narrative review, the literature on weighing breastfed babies in the United Kingdom is examined. A companion paper examined issues of growth charts, scales and weighing frequency and accuracy. This paper considers issues of interpretation of the plotted weight values for individual breastfed babies, noting the complexities of growth patterns, which may lead to difficulties of accurate identification of those individuals whose growth merits further investigation. Little attention has been given to issues of explaining the interpreted growth curves to parents and this issue is explored and noted as of importance for further study. Research evidence on choosing appropriate interventions to improve the growth of breastfed babies is reviewed. The paucity of such evidence leads to suggestions for future study. This review gathers together a wide range of literature from many different perspectives, with the hope of informing weight monitoring practice so that this can both identify infants whose weight may be of concern, and who may need appropriate intervention, and support continued breastfeeding.

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