Q&A: 8 Month Old Underweight and Not Drinking Milk

CME WebsitesChild Development, Child Routines, Infants 3 - 12 Months, Mealtime

blockquote_bgI have a neighbor that has an 8 month old child. The baby can hardly turn over, or hold his bottle. She refuses to put him on his tummy and when I’m around I make him lay that way. She doesn’t like it because he fusses while on his tummy. He can’t push himself up at all. He can barely pick his head up off of the floor. He will not get on his knees and if I place him in that position he flops back down like a frog. He can’t sit up alone and barely can supported. When placed in a sitting position, he kicks his feet until he is laying flat on his back.

Not only do these things concern me, but she hardly gives him milk and he is 6 lbs under weight. She constantly gives him apple juice. She swears he will not take the milk and if she doesn’t give him the juice, he won’t be able to make a bowel movement. I’ve tried to tell her that he needs the milk to develop properly but she will not listen. The baby was born by c- section and she says he is premature (he was taken 2 wks early) and blames his slow development on that. The baby also has misshaped pupils. And by this I mean the lower half of the pupil is shaped like a tear drop or a pear. Please help me help her understand that a lot of the things I mentioned aren’t healthy or normal.

Thanks for your question. My first question to you is “where is this baby’s pediatrician?”. An infant that is drastically under weight would be a huge red flag, aside from the developmental delays that you have mentioned. If he was only 2 weeks early than he is not considered premature, full term is 38-42 weeks. If this baby is not being given formula (he should be on formula not cow’s milk yet & drinking at least 18 oz per day along with cereals, fruits & veggies by spoon) then the pediatrician needs to be called. If you have a trusting relationship with this neighbor than I would suggest doing your best to encourage this Mom to first make a trip to the doctor as soon as possible, and perhaps you could accompany her to help ask questions about his feeding issues, constipation and general overall developmental concerns.

You can refer the mother to our website to look at what developmental milestones are typical for an 8 month old and what the red flags in development are:


Definitely encourage the tummy time, as this is the most important position for developing the needed strength and skills necessary for rolling & sitting and later crawling and walking.

The way you describe his pupils sounds like possibly a coloboma, and again this should be mentioned to the pediatrician and he should be seen by a pediatric eye doctor, not just his regular pediatrician to rule out any vision concerns. Vision can have a big impact on motor skill development.

I would also call your local early intervention provider right away so this baby can receive a full developmental assessment and begin receiving therapy services for any delays he is found to have. They can also help with feeding concerns. The early intervention program in Louisiana is called Early Steps and anyone can make a referral, but services are voluntary, so the mom will have to agree if you call for a referral. Doctors are mandated in Louisiana to make a referral, so if the baby sees his pediatrician the referral can be made by the doctor as well. Here is the information so you can call and get more info or you or the Mom can call and make a referral (the sooner the better).