baby taking bottle

How to Know if Baby is Eating Enough

Do You Know the Your Baby’s Feeding Cues?

Congrats, mama! You have made it this far! No matter how you think you are doing, I can assure you are doing 10 times better than that! Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re doing amazing!

The most common reason that mamas give up on breastfeeding sooner than later is that we get concerned about not making enough milk. So I want to tell you NOW, do not base how much you think you are producing on if your breasts are feeling full, soft, or a whole lot of all over the place. There is soo much more that goes into it.

P.S. how much you pump is also not always the most accurate measure of how much your baby is getting – babies and pumps are not the same thing! 

At this point, if your baby has been allowed to do her job of feeding how long she wants, how often she wants, and all is well with latch and transfer of milk – this is a time that your amazing body has adjusted to the needs of your baby on demand.

But, how will you know when your baby is hungry or full? Babies may not be able to talk, but they have plenty of ways to show you how they’re feeling.

How do you know if your baby is full? Here are some feeding cues:

  • She may start pulling away from the breast and closing her mouth.
  • She turns away from your nipple
  • Her hands may relax and she’ll seem content and quiet. If that’s the case, she’s about drinking all the milk she can at the moment.

To tell if she is getting enough at a feed is NOT if she is feeding longer at some feeds and shorter at others, nor if she is hungry literally 30 minutes after a breastfeed (despite what we may think or have heard).

You can tell if your baby is getting enough by looking at the number of pees and poops (you can expect about 5-6 wet diapers per day). But, the best way to tell if they are getting enough milk is if they are gaining weight.

Not sure about weight? Please please do not be afraid to call your baby’s doctor. Just bring her in to get weighed on a reliable scale and/or call your trusted lactation specialist.

Now, I’m sure we are all wondering if and when you can start a bottle…and how you should go about this?

Well, it can take 3-8 weeks for breastfeeding to become part of you and your baby’s new normal, so you may want to wait until then. But, every mama’s situation is different and you do what you need to do mama!

3 things that can help when introducing a bottle to baby are:

  1. Use the slowest nipple that works well for baby – choose a nipple that is a level 0 (premie) or level 1 so that the work and pace of the feeding mimic that of breastfeeding. Make sure the flow is not too fast, so that the feeding feels good to your baby. Milk that comes out too fast can make it hard for your baby to suck, swallow, and breathe safely. 
  2. Try different positions to see what works best. There is no right position, every baby is different! Sometimes an upright position where your baby is lying facing you can be great for doing paced feeding. And now I’m sure you’re wondering what paced feeding is? Paced feeding is making sure the bottle feeding is slow enough and the flow mimics breastfeeding as much as possible. 
  3. Have someone other than you mama give the feed. If she is not adapting to the bottle right away, maybe this is a good chance for you to leave the house all together for an hour or 2 (get that mani pedi lady!) to see if this helps. 

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Emily Sylvester

Emily Sylvester is the Founder & CEO of Mother of Fact. As a Licensed Registered Dietitian, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Mom of 3, she's helped thousands of families in many low/middle income communities feel confident and supported in their feeding journey. Her mission is to eliminate the deficit of equitable breastfeeding & formula feeding help for all households & healthcare systems.
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