Is my older baby getting enough milk?

August 6, 2011. Posted in: Growth & Development,Older Infant,Supply worries,What is Normal?

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

IS BABY GETTING ENOUGH? — QUICK REFERENCE CARD
~~~ AFTER 6 WEEKS ~~~
WEIGHT GAIN:
If baby is gaining well on mom’s milk alone, then baby is getting enough. More on weight gain. Average weight gain for breastfed babies:

0 – 4 mo 6 oz /week 4 – 6 mo 4 – 5 oz/week 6 – 12 mo 2 – 4 oz/week
WET DIAPERS: 4 – 5+ sopping wet diapers per day.
To feel what a sufficiently wet diaper is like, pour 4-6 tablespoons (60-90 mL) of water into a clean diaper (if baby wets more often, then the amount of urine per diaper may be less). Diapers may be wetter in the morning, especially with older babies. Urine should be pale and mild smelling.
DIRTY DIAPERS: Depends on your child.
Number ranges from many per day to one every 7 – 10+ days. After 4 – 6 weeks, some babies switch to an infrequent stooling pattern. This is normal as long as baby is gaining well, and stools are soft and profuse if several days have passed. More on infant stooling.
OTHER POSITIVE SIGNS: After a feeding, mom’s breast feels softer and baby seems reasonably content. Baby is alert, active and meeting developmental milestones.

Want to print the above information? Go to PDF Quick Reference Cards

Most nursing mothers are familiar with how to tell if a newborn is getting enough milk, but what about when baby gets older? Can you use the same criteria? At some point, many moms will wonder about their milk supply and whether it is “keeping up” with baby’s growth.

Following are signs that your older baby is getting enough milk. (If baby is younger than 6 weeks, then see how to tell if your newborn is getting enough milk.) If baby is getting enough milk, then you can rest assured that your milk supply is just fine.

  • Baby has adequate weight gain. If your baby is gaining weight well on breastmilk alone, then baby is getting enough milk and you do not have a problem with milk supply.
  • Baby (older than 6 weeks) should wet at least 4-5 disposable diapers (5-6 cloth diapers) every 24 hours and the diapers should be really wet. At all ages, urine should be pale and mild smelling. As baby grows, so also does his bladder and its ability to hold more urine. For this reason, your baby may not wet as often as he did as a newborn, but typically the diapers will be wetter than when baby was younger. To feel what a sufficiently wet diaper is like, pour 4-6 tablespoons (60-90 mL) of water into a clean diaper (but keep in mind that if baby wets more often, then the amount of urine per diaper will be less). It’s also normal for diapers to be wetter in the morning, especially with older babies.

    Note: If baby is getting significant liquids in addition to breastmilk (formula, water or juice), then this diaper count will let you know that baby is well-hydrated, but will not be a reliable gauge of whether baby is getting enough breastmilk. Breastmilk should be baby’s main source of nutrition throughout the first year.

  • Baby is stooling within normal parameters (for your baby). Older breastfed babies (after the first 6-8 weeks) can go several days without a stool. Ten days or more is not uncommon! The long periods between stools in a baby who is obviously thriving is not a cause for concern if the baby’s abdomen remains soft, and the baby is content and alert. As long as the stool is no thicker than toothpaste when passed and profuse if several days have gone by, it’s still within the norm. Keep in mind that ANY formula or other supplemental foods given to the baby can alter the color, consistency, and frequency of the stool. More at this link on normal stools for breastfed babies.
  • Your breast feels softer after the feeding.
  • Baby seems reasonably content immediately after the feeding.
  • Baby is alert, active and meeting his/her milestones.

Many times, the normal changes that occur as breastfeeding continues past the first few weeks or months can make mom feel like her milk supply is decreasing, even though it isn’t. See Is your milk supply really low? for more information.

 

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