Many parents worry if their baby is getting enough milk. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why many mothers stop breastfeeding.
This isn’t all that surprising given that our society sets parents up with many unrealistic expectations.
For example, many parents feel like they are doing something ‘wrong’ if their baby of ‘X’ age isn’t sleeping through the night or is feeding ‘too much’.
The truth is that there are many individual – and very normal – variations when it comes to sleeping habits and feeding frequency.
As long as a baby is showing reliable signs of getting enough milk, then their individual sleeping and feeding patterns are just that – individual. Unfortunately, many parents are given unreliable information about how to tell if their baby is getting enough milk.
Here are 3 reliable signs that your baby is getting enough milk:
#1: Your baby’s growth
Babies who are getting enough milk will put on enough weight, and grow in length and head circumference.
It is normal for babies to lose a small amount of weight in the early days. According to Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), a weight loss of up to 10% of their birth weight is normal for a baby during the first week. A baby would then ideally be at least back up to their birth weight by 2 weeks.
Thereafter, there is wide variation in average weekly weight gains. Some weeks, a baby may put on quite a bit of weight, and other weeks not so much. According to the NHMRC, on average, a baby puts on the following amounts per week:
- 0-3 months – 150-200g
- 3-6 months – 100-150g
- 6-12 months – 70-90g
A baby’s birth weight typically doubles in the first 6 months. By 12 months, babies are typically 2.5 times their birth weight, 1.5 times the length they were at birth, and their head circumference typically has increased by about 7.6cm.
A baby who is getting enough milk will do enough poos.
The first poos a baby does are thick, sticky, and black (meconium). After 24-48 hours, the poo is brownish and gradually continues to lighten in color and become runnier.
By around day 5, a baby is usually doing the typical breastfed babies’ poos which are runny (sometimes with little milk curds) and yellow-mustardy (occasionally green or orange) in color.
If a baby’s poos are gradually lightening in color as described above, this is a good sign that the baby is getting enough milk.
From around day 5 onwards, if breastfed babies are getting enough milk, they do at least 3 poos every day. Many breastfed babies will do many more than 3! A few healthy breastfed babies do only one poo each day but the poo is really big (eg fills the whole nappy and more!).
If formula is given to a baby, this often reduces the frequency of poos and also changes the colour, consistency and smell of the poos.
After 6 weeks or so, some breastfed babies don’t poo as often. Some may only poo every few days or so. As long as the poo is runny and there’s a lot of it, there should be no cause for concern.
A baby who is getting enough milk will do enough wees.
For the first 5 days, a baby will have at least as many wet nappies as the number of days old they are. For example, at least 1 wet nappy on day 1, at least 2 wet nappies on day 2, and so on.
From day 5 onwards, a baby who is getting enough milk will have at least 5 very wet disposable nappies every 24 hours, or at least 6-8 very wet cloth nappies every 24 hours. The wee should be pale in color and non-offensive smelling.
So, next time you are worried if your baby is getting enough milk, think about the above reliable signs and chat with your GP, child health nurse, or lactation consultant. Be sure to become familiar with the unreliable signs that your baby is getting enough milk too.