Of the long list of things new mothers have to worry about, whether or not the baby is eating enough is one of the more common concerns. Although many women worry about baby’s food intake, most babies are getting enough to eat and it’s rare that this becomes an actual problem. Still, a little reassurance can go a long way towards alleviating this common fear of new moms, so here are the ways you can tell your baby is getting enough to eat, even if he seems to be hungry all the time.
Steady Weight Gain
As long as your baby is gaining weight steadily, he is likely getting enough to eat. Your pediatrician will monitor baby’s weight gain at regular check ups. During the first year of life, your baby will likely gain weight at a fairly rapid pace. There is a great deal of variation in weight gain, however, depending on your baby’s body type and genetic predisposition towards being a smaller or larger person. A small baby may gain weight more slowly or gain smaller amounts of weight each month, but as long as the gain stays within a normal range and the baby stays on his growth curve, there is no cause for worry.
For new moms who just can’t stand waiting in between check ups to keep tabs on baby’s weight, most pediatric offices will arrange simple weight checks, where you can bring the baby in and have a nurse check his weight. If you really need to know, this is a better idea than checking baby’s weight on a home scale. Your scale at home may not be sensitive enough or may not be as accurate as the one at the doctor’s office.
Babies who are bottle fed will normally feed on a schedule, while breastfed babies generally feed on demand. Bottle feeding offers the advantage of knowing exactly how many ounces your baby has consumed in a day, while with a breast fed baby there is no way of knowing.
Although your breastfed baby might seem to be hungry all the time, especially compared to a bottle fed baby, there generally is no reason to worry. Breast milk is easier to digest and is therefore absorbed into baby’s body faster than formula. Because of this, breastfed babies are hungry more often than formula fed babies, and may seem to be eating far more often than you would expect. Because every mother is different in how much milk she can store in the breasts and therefore have available for feeding at any given time, there will be a great deal of variation in how often a breastfed baby will eat. As long as your baby feeds regularly and is gaining weight, things are probably fine.
Check the Diapers
A baby who is getting enough to eat will generally have a wet diaper at least every 6 hours and a dirty diaper about every 24 hours – although babies can go several days in between bowel movements, especially breastfed babies who can go up to two weeks. As long as your baby is going through diapers on a regular schedule, odds are good she is getting plenty to eat.
As long as your baby continues to gain weight and to have plenty of wet and dirty diapers, you probably have no need to worry about food intake, even if she seems to want to eat all the time.