Our baby dropped from 50th percentile at birth to under 1 percentile by 1 year. If this is happening with your baby, please know that you are not alone! Read our story and see how we turned this around!
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From 50th percentile at birth to < 1%
Our son was born right smack in the 50th percentile for weight, length, and head circumference. We were elated that we gave birth to a perfectly healthy little boy. And I was grateful that he was not over 8 pounds, like the ultrasounds predicted. Because ouch.
Right from day 1 our baby was a great eater and I was a proud mama. Going to the doctor for his well visits was always an exciting day because I’d get to see how well he was growing.
Then around 3 months, our son started spitting up. A lot. (Read more about his story with reflux).
His weight gain slowed down, but he was still growing so we were not too concerned. He was now 23rd percentile for weight. Our doctor said to add some baby cereal to his milk, so we did that.
Our son kept growing, slowly, and reached 16 pounds by 7 months. Not bad. (10th percentile)
But then our son's weight gain completely stalled. He wasn’t too into solid food, and wasn’t drinking enough breastmilk to compensate. He still spit up a little, which didn’t help with keeping his precious calories in him. He started crawling everywhere nonstop and he was a super active baby. He would spend hours pulling himself up to stand and squatting. He’s definitely got mama’s strong legs.
On top of that, our son started going to daycare 2 days a week so that I could focus a little on my food blog Babaganosh. And of course he started getting colds from daycare, as expected.
The problem was that our son didn’t want to eat much for about a week every time he got a cold. So he would go through these cycles of gaining a half a pound between colds only to lose those hard-earned ounces again.
Right before his first birthday, we made the decision to pull him out of daycare. It was a tough decision because I needed some free time to not lose my sanity, and also because our son was always in such a good mood after daycare. He never cried there. The teachers adored him. And the best part – he ate more solid food in daycare than he did at home.
So our son stayed home with me full time, and during this time my sole focus was on feeding him. Through distractions and pressure tactics (I know, I know, this did backfire later) he gained 3 pounds from the time he was 12 months until he turned 15 months.
And then he totally stopped eating. At 15 months, he was 19 pounds (0.9 percentile). At 16 months, he was 19 pounds (0.5 percentile). It was stressful to see the numbers, it felt like my baby was dwindling and wasting away.
Failure to thrive
No parent wants to hear the words "Failure to Thrive" from their doctor.
Our son was a teeny tiny little thing, but thank goodness he was a happy little guy with lots of energy. When we went on vacation to Mexico City, a kid came up to us on the playground and said "chiquito pero peligroso" - small but dangerous. 🙂
Luckily our son's head circumference growth was still going strong, hovering around the 45th percentile. And he was on track for most developmental milestones. He walked early, at 10 months. He was a little behind on speaking but he was making good progress. You can't be the best at everything, right?
Just a side note about the growth charts. The percentiles I’ve been listing in this post are according to the CDC growth chart. Now, we know that Americans are larger than most people around the world. There is another growth chart from the World Health Organization (WHO) that has lower weight expectations for babies 0-2 years old. Doctors in the US are actually starting to use the WHO growth chart for tracking growth so as not to encourage childhood obesity.
Our son's ranking on the WHO growth chart was a bit better, so I sometimes used that to calculate his weight percentile, just to make myself feel better. I know, that makes no sense because it doesn’t change how much he actually weighs!!
Finally, a breakthrough
So anyway, here we are now, at just over 16 months. Our son had a breakthrough with eating recently thanks to a few changes we’ve implemented (keep reading for lot of helpful articles and tips!!) and I am excited and hopeful to track his growth further.
We’ll see how things go in the next few months! You can only take things one day at a time with a picky eater.
Here is a link to the CDC growth chart calculator and the WHO growth calculator. The website looks like it was built in 1992, but it works pretty well both on the computer and on your phone. Just be a little patient with it, it takes a few seconds to load.
Helpful picky eater resources that helped us:
- Feeding therapy for picky eating - this was the BEST thing we did for our son!
- Free workshop for parents of picky eating- we learned so much about how to approach feeding a picky eater from the workshop and course!
- Table Food School workshop - so helpful for learning how to get babies to learn to eat table foods!
- How to get toddlers to gain weight
- How to get toddlers to eat when they don't want to
- Division of responsibility in feeding
- Distraction feeding
- Sensory play
What does your baby’s growth chart look like? Are there gains and plateaus? Do you see a pattern of when your baby gains weight and when your baby stops growing? Tell me all about it in a comment below!
Saturday 10th of October 2020
Thank you so much for writing this and validating my own experience. Your story is almost identical to ours. We started over 50th percentile and now he’s down to 3rd percentile and still falling. I’m in Canada so I believe we use the WHO charts here (not complete sure?). The only difference in our experiences is we had about a month of projectile vomiting between 1-2 months which may have been caused by probiotics we started using. That went away after we stopped using the probiotics but the reflux continued. Now he gags and vomits often when trying to feed him solid foods.
Anyway I wish I found your blog about how you give your son high calorie purées much sooner. The doctors tell me to do this but they don’t break it down as a “how-to”. My boy is now 11 months. I try to up his calories but after reading your post I feel better equipped. I’m going to try to implement what you have and hope it helps him gain weight. He’s currently about 16lbs (and something oz).
Tuesday 20th of October 2020
Hi Samantha! The projective vomiting must have been so stressful, and I'm surprised probiotics caused that - and I always assumed probiotics were good. But that's besides the point.
Yes it is a shame how doctors are not super helpful with any of these issues I've been facing, it's only occupational therapists who have experienced with picky eating who have been the most helpful to us! Please be careful with food allergies when introducing any new foods to the baby foods or any other food.
Our son was barely 16 lbs at 1 year and I remember how worried I was about his weight. He is now almost 3.5 years old and still below the 10th percentile but it definitely gets less stressful because he's not such a teeny little thing anymore and eating better over all! Hang in there!
We also had a gagging and vomiting problem with many textures, we started using the nuk brush and it really helped. That was a recommendation from a picky eating course we took online when our son was about 15 months and we realized we needed a little more professional help. Here are my two blog posts about the nuk brush and the feeding therapy/picky eating class, if that might be helpful to you: https://highchairchronicles.com/nuk-brush-gagging/ https://highchairchronicles.com/toddler-feeding-therapy/
Friday 17th of July 2020
Our stories sound so much alike and I feel so lost. My son was born perfectly healthy and around 4 months he started spitting up almost every bottle. At 7 months he only weighed 14 lbs 11 oz. He was diagnosed with GERD and medication is helping with the spit up but he still pukes here and there. Now he is refusing to eat solids or put anything in his mouth. He’s barely gaining any weight and I’m soooo worried. I don’t know how to get through this... he is so small and skinny. If you have any advice for a stressed out momma please help!
Saturday 6th of June 2020
Thank you for sharing! It’s been so isolating to have my daughter also struggle with weight gain and eating but have no one else understand. What kids don’t like food, right? We’ve had to fortify expressed breastmilk to keep her growth curves stable and, now that she’s older, keep her on pediasure for liquids. So many SLP and OT visits, just feeling so alone because most children with feeding disorders have other issues but she's always been advanced in all other respects.
Sunday 7th of June 2020
Yes I know exactly what you mean with feeling isolated, not understanding what kids don't like food (especially if they don't have any other health issues), and always worrying about supplementing breastmilk and having pediasure or other specific items on hand. It's hard. But you're not alone!! Hopefully this blog has some resources that can help you our. Every kid is different, but maybe some of the ideas here will help or might give you other ideas of what to try.
Wednesday 22nd of April 2020
Firstly thanks for writing this article....My baby had worst reflux issues since her 1st month....and she was very poor eater...there were many fasting days and she used through complete feed which she had just taken and I pumped breast milk till a year it was a tough time..but now I am feeling ok because reflux issues is reduced..it was there till her 9th month...and she is picky eaters it is a big task to make her eat...her birth weight was 3kg and now she is 13months but she weighs only 8kg...but she is very active and happy baby she walked at 10months and she speaks words since her 11th month...I am really struggling to get her weight back on track please do suggest me something...
Thursday 23rd of April 2020
I converted the kilos to lbs, and it looks like my son was the same weight at 13 months... pretty underweight! He was meeting all his development milestones then (just like your girl), but was just so tiny. He is doing great now at almost 3 years old, even though he's still super skinny. We had our WORST eating period when my son was ~13-18 months, and it got better after that because that's when I learned the connection between sensory and picky eating, we started seeing a feeding therapist in person and also took an online series of workshops that really helped me learn how we should be feeding our son.
Please know you're not alone... go to the "FIRST TIME HERE?" section on my blog, look at the picky eating worksheet article, look for my high calorie baby food post, read about feeding therapy (there is so much you can do at home!), read the picky eating and sensory sections of my blog, and join my Facebook group for parents of picky eaters, if you want.
But definitely click around the blog and search for all those things in the search section of my blog to help you get started on tackling this and not feel overwhelmed.. because it's absolutely possible to help reduce picky eating, and the sooner you start trying these different approaches the sooner you'll see changes happen!
And I am so glad to hear your daughter's reflux is reduced, that is sooo stressful.