How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

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How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

Feeding baby is often the most stressful part of being a new mother.  If you are breastfeeding, how do you make sure that baby is getting enough milk? If you are formula feeding, how much should a baby be eating?  There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, but here I’ll answer some common questions to get you started in the right direction.  If you are still concerned, make sure to consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant.

FREE Newborn Feeding Log

Are you worried about how much your baby is eating? I was as a newborn, so I designed this feeding log to track my son’s feeding. It’s designed to help moms that are breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination. Use this log for quick tracking that you can take to doctor and lactation appointments.

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    If you are concerned about how much milk baby is getting, make sure to download my feeding log.  I designed this as a new mom to get a picture of how much my son was eating.  I was trying to breastfeed but was constantly concerned he wasn’t eating enough, and his weight gain was inconsistent.  This allowed me to quickly and easily track every nursing session and bottle he received.  I had a sheet for each day that I kept in a folder.  I then took the sheets to doctor appointments and meetings with the lactation consultant.  It was immensely helpful to have this information recorded so that I could accurately answer the questions.  You can get my log here.

    newborn feeding log page

    How much milk should a baby be drinking?

    Each baby is different, but here are some common guidelines to give you an idea.

    • Newborn: 2 to 3 ounces every 3 or 4 hours
    • 1 Month: 4 ounces every 4 hours
    • 6 Months: 6 to 8 ounces 4 or 5 times a day

    Another way to look at it is an average baby will consume 2 to 3 ounces a day per pound of body weight up to a maximum of 32 ounces per day. 


    How can I tell how much milk my baby is drinking when breastfeeding?

    Weigh baby before and after feeding.  Breast milk has a density close to 1.  This means that the weight of breastmilk is approximately equivalent to the volume. Therefore, if you give a baby 1 oz of breastmilk, the baby will gain about 1 oz if weighed right after feeding.  You can use this information to monitor baby’s intake from breastfeeding.  Weigh your baby immediately before feeding.  Then breastfeed until your baby is satisfied.  Once your baby is finished feeding, weigh him again.  The weight gained is approximately the volume of milk that your baby drank.  You do need a sensitive scale designed for babies to do this.  Here is one version of a scale that would work if you are concerned enough to do this after multiple feedings a day.  However, if you just want to get a basic idea, you can do this in the doctor’s or lactation consultant’s office.  Some locally-owned baby stores also have nursing rooms with scales that you can use. 

    Do NOT waste money on devices designed to tell you how much baby is eating while nursing. I purchased this one to try and sent it back after a couple of days.  Devices like this are not to the point of being accurate and they are extremely cumbersome to use.  If you are already questioning your ability to breastfeed, the last thing you need is something else to juggle while trying to get baby to latch.


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    How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk when breastfeeding?

    • Monitor baby’s fullness cues.  If baby latches on and nurses readily and then falls asleep, that’s a good indication that your baby is full.  When a baby is finished nursing, they often make a satisfied face.  My son would pick his head up, purse his lips and seem to be saying, “That was tasty!” right before curling up on me to sleep. 
    • A full feeding should sustain baby for at least 2 to 3 hours.  If your baby is wanting to nurse more often, pay attention to if he really seems to be hungry.  A baby may nurse more often for comfort and not because of hunger. Also, babies will nurse more frequently during growth spurts.  However, these periods shouldn’t last more than a couple of days.
    • Monitor for consistent weight gain. Babies naturally lose weight in the first couple of days after birth; however, they should be back to birth weight within about a week.  If your baby isn’t gaining weight, he may not be getting enough milk.
    • Watch baby eating to determine if he’s actually swallowing.  If your baby is taking long sucks and swallowing after no more than 4 sucks, then he is getting a decent amount of milk and actually eating versus suckling for comfort.

    What should I do if I don’t think my baby is getting enough milk?

    The first thing I suggest is meeting with a lactation consultant.  They are trained to evaluate your baby’s latch and feeding and give tips on ways to improve or make it easier.  Before deciding you need to supplement, meet with someone whose job it is to help women with breastfeeding. 

    If you are concerned that your supply is low, there are numerous lactation boosting recipes you can try like this lactation boosting protein shake.


    Is it alright to let someone give the baby a bottle of pumped milk once in a while?

    Yes, it can be wonderful for your sanity to let dad give your baby a bottle overnight while you sleep. However, there are a couple of valid concerns with giving your baby a bottle instead of nursing.  I’ll outline the concerns and tips for preventing any problems. 

    Concern #1: Baby will prefer a bottle to nursing.

    Drinking from a bottle is way less work for your baby than nursing.  The milk also tends to flow more quickly and doesn’t require time for a letdown.  Paced bottle feeding is important to make sure that your baby doesn’t get the idea that a bottle is better because he can now chug his milk.  Before giving your baby the first bottle, check out this article on paced bottle feeding!  I didn’t know about this before offering a bottle, and my son quickly decided nursing was way too much work, and he would rather have a bottle.

    Concern #2: Skipping a feeding will decrease your milk supply.

    This is another concern rooted in reality.  Breastfeeding is a supply and demand situation.  If demand goes up, supply will increase.  Conversely, if demand goes down, supply will decrease.  If you start consistently skipping an overnight feeding to get 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, you will start to see a decrease in milk supply. The first couple times your breasts will be really full when you get up, but after a couple days they will start being progressively less full.  This can be a slow decline that’s a slippery slope you don’t notice happening until your supply has dropped a lot.  Ideally, if baby gets a bottle, you should pump instead.  However, that often negates the benefits of having your partner get up for a feeding. To make this easier, make sure you have an efficient pump. You can view my breast pump comparison here.


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    You have a few options. I suggest trying them all to figure out which works best for you but be very conscious of if you milk supply starts to drop.

    • Let your someone else feed your baby a bottle while you sleep (don’t go more than 6 hours between nursing sessions though).  Pump a couple of times after feedings during the day to get the milk for the bottle and help keep your supply up.
    • Have your partner get up with the baby and change the diaper, then bring the baby to you in bed to nurse.
    • Have your partner feed baby a bottle while you pump.

    You can do a combination of these as well.  Maybe you sleep through one or two feedings a week, but not every night.  Just make sure that anyone who feeds your baby a bottle is practicing paced bottle feeding and not letting baby chug the bottle to get back to bed faster.  If your baby will be getting a bottle regularly, it is a good idea to periodically do before and after feeding weights for a nursing session to make sure your baby hasn’t been getting lazy with nursing knowing that a bottle will be forthcoming at some point. 


    How can I keep track of how much my baby is eating? 

    You want to document not just the quantity of feedings, but also the quality.  Also, you will want to log any bottles baby receives.  There are numerous benefits to keeping track of baby’s feedings including seeing a pattern develop of how much baby needs to eat and tracking spit-up/other GI issues. Remembering to track can be difficult when you are an exhausted new parent.  Download the tracker I used here, to make tracking simple regardless of whether your baby is getting breast milk, formula, or a combination. If you are feeding formula at all, check out this price comparison to find the best value.

    FREE Newborn Feeding Log

    Are you worried about how much your baby is eating? I was as a newborn, so I designed this feeding log to track my son’s feeding. It’s designed to help moms that are breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination. Use this log for quick tracking that you can take to doctor and lactation appointments.

      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      How do you monitor how much baby is eating?  Let me know in the comments.

      Also make sure to check out these posts!


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      How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

      Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

      12 thoughts on “How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

      • December 12, 2018 at 6:19 pm
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        I was worried about this when my baby was a few months younger. I had to really force myself to drink more water and feed every 3 hours to get my supply up!

        Reply
        • December 18, 2018 at 1:34 am
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          Drinking more water is huge, but can be so hard! I would think about getting a drink, but then get busy doing something else and realize an hour later I never got the drink I meant to.

          Reply
      • December 12, 2018 at 10:01 pm
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        This is such a great post!! Thank you so much for sharing! When my little guy was a newborn, I would write on a little notepad if he nursed and how much milk we supplemented along with the time and if he was wet/dirty. It quickly got confusing though and you log looks like it would have been so helpful to stay organized!

        Reply
        • December 18, 2018 at 1:33 am
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          Thanks! It was the only way I could come up with as a sleep-deprived mom to log my nursing and get everyone else to log bottles.

          Reply
      • December 14, 2018 at 1:48 am
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        This was one of my biggest stressors of the newborn months. I found what helped me the most was to weigh my daughter, feed her, then weigh her again. That gave me so much peace of mind during a time I thought she wasn’t getting any/much.
        Also wet/dirty diapers is a good indication that they are getting milk 🙂

        Us new moms and all of our worries, lol!

        Reply
        • December 18, 2018 at 1:32 am
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          I think the worrying gave me the adrenaline to stay awake those first few weeks! LOL

          Reply
      • December 14, 2018 at 2:04 am
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        There were many times when my daughter was a newborn that she would want to nurse for a long time or several times. I quickly realized this was sucking for comfort. When I started pumping, I wasn’t sure at first how much to prep for each bottle because I didn’t actually know how much milk my daughter consumed in a nursing session. I followed the 1 oz per hour rule. There is a lot of great information in this article and it will be very helpful to new moms!

        Reply
        • December 18, 2018 at 1:30 am
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          Thanks! I forgot to mention the 1 oz per hour rule. That’s a great place to start when trying to decide how much.

          Reply
      • December 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm
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        This is great advice! The one thing I remember my lactation consultant telling me with my first was to listen for the swallowing noise. If I could hear them swallow, they were getting milk. The other was to watch their hands. A balled up fist meant they were hungry, and an open hand meant they were satisfied.

        Reply
        • December 18, 2018 at 1:28 am
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          Thanks! I have never heard the hand thing before! That’s great to keep in mind!

          Reply
      • December 17, 2018 at 12:22 am
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        These are some really great tips! I really love your feeding log. That’s an awesome tool for new parents to use. It’s so easy to forget the details when you’re in the sleep deprived new born stage. Having a log makes it easy to remember all of those small, but important details.

        Reply
        • December 18, 2018 at 1:27 am
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          Thanks! I made that log when I was the sleep-deprived new mom and was trying to make sure my son who didn’t want to gain weight was eating enough. I wanted to share it to help out other new moms.

          Reply

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