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How Do I Know My Baby is Getting Enough to Eat?

*Everything here is general information and not health advice. Always consult your healthcare provider to make sure this is right for you*

We get this question so often, and totally get it! We talk all about these signs and more in our Pregnancy to Parenthood prenatal class, as well as our Nourishing Your Sprout breastfeeding class!

We know that it’s nice to see what baby is getting via a bottle, because then we can feel confident about how much they are getting to eat. But whether you see exactly how many mLs of liquid they drink daily, or you feed baby directly at the breast and never know how much they take in, it’s still important to follow baby’s cues and feed them based on what they ask.

Babies are just like us – they might eat a full meal at some points in the day, and at other times they may just want a snack. Then, they might spit up a little bit of their lunch. We can never predict or know exactly how many mL they will take in throughout the course of a day. This is why it’s important to feed baby based on their cues, rather than by the clock or the measurements on the bottle.

The easiest way to know that baby is getting enough to eat is to watch what comes out of them!

In the early days, we want them to have as many light yellow or clear pees for day of life, so when they are:

one day old, we would want to see at least one pee in 24 hours

two days old we would want to see at least two pees in 24 hours

three days old we would want to see at least three pees in 24 hours

and so on, until day 5-7, when we would want to consistently see six to eight light yellow or clear pee diapers in 24 hours, generally for the rest of their life (Until they get pregnant and go 8,030 times per day in the first trimester, are we right?).

When it comes to poops, we look at quantity and consistency. We would like to see:

one-two days old: 1-2 or more dark green, sticky poops in 24 hours

three-four days old: 3 lightening green, brown or yellow poops in 24 hours

four days - six weeks: about 3 mustard yellow, soft and seedy poops in 24 hours.

Please check in with your baby's doctor if you have any concerns about your baby's diapers, including the amount of pees or poops, or any colours other than what we have described here.

So we have the diapers sorted out, but if you’re looking for other signs that baby is getting enough, keep an eye out for these things, as well:

Hearing swallows while they feed – it sounds like a “keh” sound. You also may see their chin pause and drop as they fill up their mouth with milk, and then move up as they swallow.

Relaxing at the end of a feed: babies often start feeds with tightly clenched fists and their hands close up to their faces. As their tummies get full, their hands will open up, their limbs will relax, and their whole body gets loosey-goosey.

A newborn baby with a full tummy will sleep at the end of a feed. We want to expand on this a little bit though, as there are a couple of extra things to consider here. If a baby falls asleep as soon as they get latched on, or after only a few minutes, they might not be getting the milk flow that they desire, which means that their latch might actually need some work. The other time that there’s a bit of an asterisk on this is during periods of cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is quite common when babies go through growth spurts. They can eat a little bit, have a short rest, then want to eat a little bit more, on repeat, for maybe a few hours. This most often happens in the evening and can seem like baby isn’t getting enough to eat. They may pull at the breast, or not seem to know exactly what they want. This can be very common on baby’s second night of life, as well as at 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, and multiple times throughout their first year. If a baby is peeing and pooping as expected and the other signs of getting enough are there, cluster feeding is quite normal. And sometimes, after all of that cluster feeding, babies reward us with a nice little solid chunk of sleep!

You'll know if your baby is getting enough if their lips are pink and moist, and that they seem to be “filling out,” especially in their cheeks. They might be quietly alert for some points in the day, taking in their surroundings and checking you out.

Finally, we do want to see fairly steady weight gain. We know that weight gain doesn’t have to be in a straight line, but we do expect babies to gain about 20-35 grams per day in the first few months. But we encourage you not to get too caught up in the numbers, because things like scale sensitivity, different scales, or weighing a baby naked or with clothes on can throw these numbers off. We know that it feels good to see those numbers on the scale go up, but we know that you know your baby, and that you will be much more likely to notice other signs of thriving.

To take a deeper dive into the basics of infant feeding, join our next live prenatal class, starting March 2nd, 2023! For more in-depth instruction on breastfeeding, check out our Nourishing your Sprout Breastfeeding Class, starting February 8, 2023. We hope to see you there! And of course, if your baby is here and you want some one-on-one help with breastfeeding, book a consultation with Sara today!

Until next time,

Loreli & Sara

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