Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
As a new mama, you may be wondering, “Is my baby getting enough milk?”. Whether you breastfeed, chestfeed or give formula, it’s common to wonder if your baby is getting enough milk to support their growth and development. It’s recommended to exclusively breastfeed, chestfeed and/or formula feed your baby for the first 6 months of life (1). This is because human milk and formula provide your baby with all of the nutrients they need during this time (2). Read on to help answer the question: “Is my baby getting enough milk?”.
Signs Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk
Sign #1: Hunger Cues in Your Baby
To ensure that your baby is getting enough milk from breast, chest feeding or formula, it’s important to recognize your baby’s signs of hunger (3). Signs of hunger can include:
- Rooting – moving head from side to side when something touches their cheek
- Nuzzling into your chest
- Opening their mouth
- Sticking out their tongue
- Placing hands, fingers, and fists in their mouth
It’s recommended to feed your newborn baby on demand when they begin to show signs of hunger (3). This can differ from baby to baby, but is often 8 – 12 times per day or every 2-3 hours (2,4). If your baby seems happy after feeding, this is often a good sign they are full and content (4).
Sign #2: Wet & Soiled Diapers
Another sign to see if your baby is getting enough milk is to monitor wet and soiled diapers (6).
- Urine should be clear or pale yellow
- For the first 6 days, your baby should have as many wet diapers as they are days old
- At one-week old, your baby should have 6 – 8 wet diapers per day (5)
- Colour will vary – at the beginning bowel movements will appear black and sticky. As your baby gets older, the colour will vary between green, yellow, and brown.
- For the first 6 days your baby should be having 1 – 2 bowel movements per day.
- From 1 week to 4 weeks, your baby should have a minimum of 2 bowel movements per day.
- Babies given human milks may have a bowel movement at every feed. Babies may also have bowel movements a few days apart. This is not cause for concern
- For babies given human milk, it is important to pay attention to texture – stool may be seedy, colour (mentioned above) and signs of discomfort, to identify a problem.
- Formula fed babies often have stool that is firmer (not as soft) (3,5).
Sign #3 – Weight Gain
The final sign to see if your baby is getting enough milk is their weight gain.
- Weight gain should remain steady after the first two weeks of life
- Have your doctor or other health professional (midwife, dietitian, lactation consultant) check your baby’s weight at every check-up (4,6)
Breastfeeding and Chestfeeding Your Baby
Signs that your baby is getting enough milk from breast or chestfeeding include:
- You can see and hear your baby swallowing when feeding
- Sucking is fast at first and is then slows down to longer rhythmic sucking
- Baby seems relaxed when feeding & content after feeding
- Your baby’s cheeks stay round when feeding
- Their mouth looks moist after feeding
- Baby releases from the chest on their own when finished
- The chest feels softer after feeding
- Nipples look the same after – not pinched, white or flat (4,6)
Formula Feeding Your Baby
Signs that your baby is getting enough milk from formula include the drinking the following:
- 1.5 – 3.0 oz. every 2-3 hours as a newborn
- 4-5 oz. every 3-4 hours around 2 months old
- 4-6 oz. at each feed (frequency depends on size) around 4 months old
- 6-8 oz. each feed every 4 – 5 hours at 6 months old (3)
Breastfeeding and Chestfeeding Myths and Facts
Myth: You need to drink dairy milk to make milk.
Fact: You do not have to consume dairy products in order to produce milk. Many cultures do not drink milk or consume dairy and are able to successfully breast or chestfeed.
Myth: You can’t breast or chest feed if you are vegan.
Fact: You can still produce enough milk supply with the same nutrients to someone who is not vegan. Although, you may need to take a B12 supplement (speak with your healthcare team). For more info about nourishing your body while lactating, check out our blog post for some postpartum snack ideas.
Myth: Certain allergens should be avoided when breast or chestfeeding.
Fact: There are no specific foods that have to be avoided unless the parent is allergic or your baby has a reaction when you eat a certain food (7).
Formula Feeding Myths and Facts
Myth:Formula does not match the nutritional quality of human milk.
Fact: Formula contains all of the nutrients required to help your baby grow and develop.
Myth: Formula-fed babies are more likely to develop food allergies.
Fact: No recent study has shown that formula increases or decreases your baby’s chance of developing a food allergy.
Myth: You can’t give your baby formula if you choose to breast or chestfeed.
Fact: You can choose to feed your baby any way you see fit. It is acceptable to offer both formula AND human milk if that is what is best for you and your baby (8).
Final Notes from The Nest
Figuring out if your baby is getting enough milk can be stressful. Watching for hunger cues, wet & soiled diapers, and weight gain are signs that you can follow to determine if your baby is getting enough milk. For specific signs associated with breast and chestfeeding, monitor your baby’s feeding behaviour during and after feeding, along with how your chest feels. For formula feeding, watch how much your baby is drinking at each feed, increasing the amount as they age. There are many myths associated with breast, chest and formula feeding; however, it is important to remember to do what is best for you and your baby. For more specific recommendations about infant feeding, or for support in monitoring your baby’s growth, contact one of the Registered Dietitians at the Nest.
~ Article Written by Hailey Belaire
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- Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Maryland: Johns Hopkins Medicine; c2021 [updated 2019 July 26; cited 2021 Oct 12]. Feeding guide for the first year; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/feeding-guide-for-the-first-year
- Kids Health [Internet]. Delaware: The Nemours Foundation; c1995-2021 [updated 2015 Feb; cited 2021 Oct 12]. Formula feeding FAQ: How much and how often; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/formulafeed-often.html
- La Leche League International [Internet]. North Carolina: La Leche League International; c2021 [updated 2021; cited 2021 Oct 12]. Is my baby getting enough milk?; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/is-baby-getting-enough/
- Sick Kids: About Kids Health [Internet]. Ontario: The Hospital for Sick Children; c2021 [updated 2009 Nov 6; cited 2021 Oct 12]. Breastfeeding: How do you know your baby is getting enough milk?; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/article?contentid=634&language=english#/
- National Health Services (NHS) [Internet]. England: Crown; c2021 [updated 2018 Dec 3; cited 2021 Oct 12]. Breastfeeding: Is my baby getting enough milk?; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding-problems/enough-milk/
- Le Leche League GB [Internet]. Nottingham: LLLGB; c2021 [updated 2019; cited 2021 Oct 12]. Breastfeeding and a Mother’s Diet: Myths and Facts; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.laleche.org.uk/breastfeeding-and-a-mothers-diet-myths-and-facts/
- Martin CR, Ling PR, Blackburn GL. Review of infant feeding: Key features of breastmilk and formula. Nutrients. 2016;8(5):279. 10.3390/nu8050279
- World Health Organization (WHO) [Internet]. Switzerland: WHO; c2021 [updated 2021 June 9; cited 2021 Oct 12]. Infant and young child feeding; [about 1 screen]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infant-and-young-child-feeding