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Signs That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk

Topic Overview

You can be reassured that your baby is eating enough and is well nourished when he or she:

  • Shows an eager desire and wakes up frequently to breast-feed.
  • Rhythmically sucks and swallows milk. The fronts of your baby's ears will move slightly, and you usually will hear swallows.
  • Breast-feeds at least 15 to 20 minutes on each breast at each feeding and is content when finished.
  • Feeds at least every 1 to 3 hours during the first 2 months. Wake your newborn every 2 to 3 hours for a feeding during the first few weeks, if needed. After 2 months, your baby will be able to empty the breast more quickly. Feedings will then occur less often and take less time.
  • Has regular dirty and wet diapers.
    • Most babies have at least 2 or 3 wet diapers a day during the first week of life. After the first week, babies wet about 6 to 8 cloth diapers—or 4 to 6 disposable diapers a day. The number of diapers a baby wets is sometimes hard to know, because disposable diapers work so well at wicking moisture.
    • Most babies younger than 2 weeks have at least 1 or 2 bowel movements a day. After 2 weeks, breast-fed babies' bowel movements might be less frequent. Babies sometimes go 2 days or longer between bowel movements. This usually is not a problem, as long as the baby seems comfortable and is healthy and growing and as long as the stools are not hard.
  • Grows at a normal rate as judged by regular increases in weight, length, and head size. Your baby should appear healthy and happy with good muscle tone, healthy skin, and good color.

Most mothers become more confident that their babies are eating well after a few weeks of breast-feeding. It usually takes some time to establish a routine. You will learn to recognize and respond to your baby's feeding signals.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC - Lactation Consultant
Last Revised April 13, 2011

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