How to Know if Baby is Eating Enough

When bottle feeding, it’s easy to tell how much your baby is eating just by looking at the bottle. It can be a little harder to tell, however, if you are breastfeeding. There are ways of knowing exactly how much your baby is getting from the breast, but it probably isn’t necessary. You can tell baby is getting enough to eat by a few simple signs.

How Much Baby is Getting From the Breast

If your baby has special weight gain circumstances, such as prematurity, you may be asked to do a weight test to find out how much milk baby is getting from the breast. This involves weighing baby just prior to nursing, and then directly afterwards. The increase in weight will tell you how much milk the baby got during that feeding.

For most babies, however, this type of close measuring isn’t necessary or feasible. It requires a very sensitive scale, which can be purchased or rented from the hospital, but really isn’t necessary except in special circumstances.

Other Ways of Gauging Intake

There are some simple ways to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat when nursing. The first and most obvious is weight gain over time. Your pediatrician will weigh your baby every time you come in for a check up, and check it against previous weights on a growth chart. As long as your baby is gaining weight at a normal rate, there is likely nothing to worry about as far as eating habits.

If you can’t wait for a check up to find out if baby is eating enough, you can call your doctor’s office and ask to come in for a simple weight check. You won’t see the doctor, but a nurse will check your baby’s weight. Alternatively, you can watch for a few simple signs that baby is doing just fine.

A baby who is getting enough milk should have a wet diaper at least every 6 hours. The frequency of bowel movements is less important, especially in a breastfed infant. Because breast milk is used so effectively by your baby’s body, there is often little waste. A breastfed baby may go as long as two weeks between bowel movements. This is not a cause for concern unless there is some sign of discomfort or straining. Breastfed babies rarely become constipated, and as long as there are no other signs it’s not likely a sign of lack of food either. If you are concerned about how long baby has gone without a bowel movement, call your pediatrician.

Your baby will also give you signals of hunger and satisfaction. After a feeding, baby should appear sated and relaxed. If you see signs of rooting, fussing or sucking motions, baby might still be feeling hungry. Falling asleep or being easily distracted from the breast are signs baby’s tummy is full.

Your baby will eat different amounts at various feedings based on the time of day, baby’s mood and energy level, and other factors such as distractions. Don’t worry if baby comes off the breast before you think enough time has passed for a full feeding. Babies are very good at letting us know when they are hungry, and they also know when they are not hungry. Take your cues from your baby and you are unlikely to encounter any problems with the quantity of the feedings.

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