Is my baby getting enough breastmilk?

is my baby getting enough breastmilk

Is my baby getting enough breastmilk?

A common question that new breastfeeding mums ask is, “Is my baby getting enough breastmilk?” You can’t possibly measure exactly how much breastmilk your baby consumes when they breastfeed. You can’t see it and babies don’t come with a measuring gauge. So how do you know its enough?

mum feeding baby

Signs my baby is getting enough milk

Wet nappies

On a day-to-day basis, checking wet nappies will tell you if your baby is getting enough. A breastfed baby should be getting six to eight pale, thoroughly wet cloth nappies, or five heavily wet disposable nappies per day. If the nappies are only lightly wet or feel dry then try offering your baby more feeds to increase their intake.

checking nappies for breastmilk intake

Monitor nappies for signs of breastmilk intake

Bowel movements

It seems new parents can get obsessed with newborn bowel movements and everyone else doesn’t want to know about them! But bowel movements are also an important measure of breastmilk intake.

Bowel movements should be soft and yellow but they don’t need to be everyday. Some breastfed babies will go up to 10 days before they have a bowel movement. This is in the realm of normal. Others may have multiple bowel movements a day. The key is that they are soft and yellow.

Warning! If you have a baby that doesn’t have a bowel motion for 10 days, watch out for the Poonami!

Bright, alert and reasonably contented baby

A baby that is getting enough breastmilk will have periods of time during the day when they are bright and alert. They will be following normal development patterns, such as being awake for some play time each day, engaging with mum and significant others, etc. They should also be content most of the time between feeds so they are able to spend time learning about the new world around them.

one month old alert and contented baby

A content, alert, one month old.


Weight gain is the most commonly used and also the most fretted over measurement for checking if your baby is getting enough milk. Weight gain is good, but a week with no weight gain does not mean that your baby is not getting enough.

Weight gain occurs at different rates. It might be 20g one week and 100g the next. It doesn’t have to be the same every week, but over time you should be seeing a growth pattern. Often a baby will sit somewhere around a line on the growth chart. For example. they may roughly follow the 50th percentile growth line. This is great as that means the growth rate is regular. Even a baby on the 3rd percentile line is still growing at a consistent rate. They do not need to be at the 97th percentile or the 75th. They just need to be gaining.seriously original baby milestone cards with box

Record your baby’s milestones with some light humour with Seriously Milestones cards.

Remember there is no set weekly weight gain that a baby should be achieving. Your baby is not over eating if they gain 250g in a week. They are not failing to thrive if they don’t gain anything or even if they lose 20g one week. You need to be looking at the overall growth over a period of time.

Two other important measures of growth are length and head circumference. If your baby doesn’t gain weight, but does grow in head circumference or length that week, there has still been some growth.

WHO baby growth charts

How do I know my baby is NOT getting enough breastmilk?

Signs your breastfed baby that is NOT getting enough milk include:

  • dark or strong-smelling urine
  • hard formed bowel motions
  • lethargic and drowsy baby that sleeps most of the day. They may not wake for feeds.
  • feeding too long or too short. Sluggish babies may take longer to feed (longer than 40 minutes) or they may give up quickly as feeding takes up too much energy.
  • Baby is not latching on the breast properly which may cause painful nipples
  • Baby is not gaining weight or is losing weight.

If you think your baby is not getting enough breastmilk, it is best to contact a lactation consultant for assistance. Most issues with breastfeeding can be solved if you get the right advice and take action early. A lactation consultant can diagnose any issues and provide you with a plan to address them so you can ensure your baby is feeding well.

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