Feeding Frequency

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Is My Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?

If you’re feeding your baby each time she seems hungry — about 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period — and she’s producing dirty diapers, then chances are good that she’s getting enough to eat.

Don’t worry that too much nursing will deplete your milk supply. In fact, the opposite is true. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will make.

Watch for cues that your baby is getting hungry: alertness, rooting, mouthing, and sucking her fingers. Crying is a late sign of hunger, and it can be harder to get your baby to nurse if she’s upset.

How long should each feeding last? It varies, but it generally takes 20 to 45 minutes to complete a feeding. It’s common for babies to do “cluster feeding” — several short feedings close together, with a longer time in between each cluster. Your baby has had enough if she falls asleep or spits out your nipple.

Here are more signs that your baby is feeding well:

  • Frequent stools, which change from black to brown to mustard-yellow in the first five days of life. Newborns typically have two to four bowel movements per day.
  • Wet diapers follow a pattern: one wet diaper per day of life. When your baby is three days old, she’ll likely have three wet diapers. By day six, she’ll continue to have six to eight wet diapers a day for a while.
  • The urine in your baby’s diaper is pale in color.
  • Your baby seems happy and calm after feedings.
  • She’s gaining weight. Most babies lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight in the first few days of life, which they should quickly regain with frequent feedings when your milk comes in.

If you’re worried that your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, or if your baby’s doctor recommends it, you can rent a baby scale, including a model that lets you calculate how much milk she drank. They’re available at the Lytle Center at the First Hill campus.