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How to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk

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How to overcome breastfeeding issues

Whether you’re working out when and how often to feed your baby, wondering if they're getting enough breast milk, making sure they latch on properly, or feeding during the night, it’s completely natural for mums to need reassurance about breastfeeding.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk?

Because you can’t measure how much breast milk your baby is taking, it’s natural to worry about whether they’re getting enough. In time, you’ll start to understand how your baby likes to feed, but until then look for these common signs that they’re latching on well, which means they’re likely to be feeding well too:

  • They take a large mouthful of breast
  • Their chin firmly touches your breast
  • Their cheeks stay rounded during sucking
  • Your nipples and breasts don’t feel uncomfortable
  • They come off the breast themself when they’ve had enough

Even if your baby is doing all of these things, you may still have concerns about the amount of milk they’re getting. There are no strict rules as to the number feeds a breastfed baby should have, and as your baby grows their needs will change, but as a guide they’ll feed every two-three hours, including day and night feeds.

Here are a few ways to tell if your baby is getting enough food:

  • They produce at least six wet nappies every 24 hours, from day five onwards
  • From day three-five onwards they start to gain weight. Most babies regain their birth weight within the first two weeks
  • From day four and for the first few weeks, their stools are yellow and quite runny. They should pass at least two a day

Remember, once your baby is full they will take themselves off the breast. Some babies will naturally take a break during a feed, so it’s always a good idea to wait a while to see if they’re just resting or if they’re actually full.

Night feeds

Newborn babies have tiny stomachs and can only take a small amount of milk at a time. They need to feed at regular intervals throughout the day and night to ensure their nutritional requirements are met. Some mums find that breastfed babies digest their milk quicker and wake up more in the night.

 Newborn babies have tiny stomachs and can only take a small amount of milk at a time.

By three months, their stomachs are large enough to take bigger feeds, but they may still wake through the night. This could be due to:

  • thirst or hunger
  • teething pain
  • feeling cold or hot
  • feeling unwell

Once breastfeeding is established, you can try and encourage your baby to sleep longer through the night. You could try giving them extra feeds in the evening before they go to sleep. Or try semi-waking them for a sleepy breastfeed between 10pm and midnight (three-four hours after their last feed).

Some older babies and toddlers get into a habit of waking for unnecessary feeds during the night. To break the pattern, try reducing the number and length of daytime naps. This will ensure they’re more tired by bedtime and need to sleep for longer through the night. You could also try comforting them with a cuddle when they wake up, rather than a night feed.

Last reviewed: 28th July 2014
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