Is my Baby Getting Enough at Breast?

  • Tracking the diapers is a great indicator of nutrition and hydration: Diapers are a great indicator of the hydration and nutrition status of the baby. See below the diaper expectation for 1 week of age. Usually after the baby is 1 week old and your milk is in, the expectation of diapers for a each day is to have at least 4-6 pale yellow urine diapers and 1-2 stools.
Day Number of Wet Diapers Number of Dirty Diapers Stool Color/Consistency
1 1-2 1 black, tarry, sticky consistency
2 2-3 2 black, tarry, sticky consistency
3 3-4 3 turning to brown-green in color
4 4-5 3-4 brown-greenish
5 4-5 3-5 turning to yellow seedy
Day 6 + 6 or more 1-3 yellow seedy diapers
  • Baby’s weight: Most babies lose weight after birth. As long as the weight loss is below 7% of weight loss, usually no supplementation is required. Even a weight loss of 7-10% may be considered normal for breastfeeding babies but does warrant a breastfeeding evaluation.The baby starts to gain weight again once your milk is in. Usually by two weeks the expectation if to return back to birth weight. Then from birth to 6 months of age, a baby gains about 5-7 ounces a week, with doubling the birth weight by 5 months of age. Whereas, for 6 to 12 month old baby gains 3-5 ounces a week, with tripling the birth weight at 1 year of age.  Hence, it is extremely vital to routinely visit your pediatrician for well-baby exams. The pediatricians usually would plot the baby’s weight on a growth chart and continue to monitor your baby’s weight.
  • Breast feeling softer after feeding: Most mothers will experience breast feeling heavier prior to breastfeeding. Breast feeling softer or lighter after breastfeeding session is also a good indicator of breast milk transfer. Initially during the colostrum phase you may not experience breast feeling full or heavy.
  • Observing for sucking and swallows during feeding: Babies usually progress through three different stage of sucking during breastfeeding.
  1. Quick strong suck: initially the babies when first latched on begin with quick strong and fast sucking pattern to initiate a let down.
  2. Active Feeding suck: Once the milk let down occurs, the babies switch to a rhythmic pattern of suck-suck-swallow motion. Watch for the lower jaw moving up and down in a spontaneous rhythmic pattern and listen for swallow usually after 2 or more sucking.
  3. Slow flutter like suck: Usually during the end of the feeding, the active sucking slows down to slightly noticeable jaw movements with fast shallow sucks and very few swallows.  The baby is still sucking lightly at the breast. Most mother feels during this comfort sucking pattern that their breast is used as a “pacifier”.  Having a let down or Breast massaging can help change the slow flutter sucking pattern to active feeding sucks. Milk Ejection/ let down occurs multiple times during a breastfeeding session. And it is not unusual for the baby to alternate between a slow flutter to active sucking pattern.
  • Calm and satisfied baby’s behavior after feeding: watching the baby’s behavior after feeding can help a mother feel satisfied that baby is content with her supply. It is important to know that during the colostrum phase, you may produce drops to less than ½ ounce of milk. Which is expected. At birth, your baby’s stomach is a size of hazelnut requiring only about 1 to 2 teaspoon of feeding at a time. Hence, small quantity of colostrum is usually all your baby needs during day 1 to 2 of age. By around 7-10 days, which your baby is growing, the stomach size is usually the size of a walnut, usually needing about 1-2 ounces. However, during growth spurts, a baby may be wanting to feeding very frequently. During this cluster feeding phase, it is easy for one to doubt whether her breast milk is enough, especially when the baby wants to feed all the time. This growth spurt is essential to help you increase your supply to match the growing demand of your baby. The growth spurts commonly come around 3-5 day of age, 7-10 days, 2-3weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months of age. The growth spurts with cluster feeding phase can last up to 2-3 days and sometimes for a week or so.
What can help during these growth spurts/fussy behavior?
  1. Placing the baby skin to skin to keep them calm,
  2. Providing unlimited access to breast, your baby will fall asleep at your breast; don’t move the baby away from the breast right away. Wait until baby goes into a deep sleep.
  3. This constant cluster feeding, not only helps them soothe but it also assist in helping your milk “coming in” faster initially or increase your supply. Avoid replacing the breast to a pacifier, this can cause problem with latching and even decrease in milk volume as it takes away the time baby can suck at breast. Remember the more the baby sucks, the faster and more volume you make. It is just like a SUPPLY and DEMAND ratio.

Milk Calculator (for the exclusively breastfed baby)