| || Congratulations on making the important decision to breastfeed your baby! Many new nursing moms have similar questions: "How much should I feed my baby?" "How often should I feed my baby?" "How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?" If you are wondering the same, read on...|
- It is important to let your baby guide the feeding and do not rely on the clock to determine when your baby should eat. Watch your baby for signs of hunger:
- Lip smacking
- Increased alertness
- Bringing hands to mouth
- Crying is a late sign of hunger
- Babies should nurse approximately 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. Remember, your baby may eat more frequently the first couple days, but as milk production increases, feeding intervals will also increase.
- Feed your baby on demand every 1-4 hours. When counting time between feedings, count from the beginning of one feeding to the start of the next. For example: your baby starts feeding at 11 am, finishes at 12 pm and eats again at 1 pm; that is 2 hours between feeds.
- In the first weeks of life, it may be necessary to wake your baby to eat if four hours have elapsed since the beginning of the last feeding. Continue until your baby's healthcare provider deems this is no longer necessary.
- Allow your baby to breastfeed on one side until he/she comes off of the breast, then burp your baby and offer the other breast. If your baby does not want to nurse from the other breast, it's ok. Just remember to start with the other breast at the next feeding. Offering both breasts at each feeding and alternating the breast offered first helps ensure equal stimulation of the breasts.
- A good guide for assessing adequate breastmilk intake is if your baby is sleeping 2-3 hours between feeds, is stooling and is having 6-8 wet diapers a day by the sixth day of life.
Breastfeeding Tips - Is your Baby Getting Enough to Eat?
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- Breastmilk is a natural laxative and it is not unusual for breastfed babies to stool every diaper change. Your baby's stool will transition from the dark, sticky meconium to a soft, yellow, seedy texture. If your baby's stool has not turned this yellow color by day of life 5, notify your baby's healthcare provider immediately.
- The following chart discusses the number of wet and dirty diapers expected each day to ensure adequate hydration:
Day of Life
- A healthy breastfed baby gains approximately a half an ounce to an ounce a day during the first months of life until approximately 3 months of age.
- Keep your baby (babies) skin-to-skin as much as possible. Babies thrive being skin-to-skin with mom and dad. Skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo care, has been shown to stabilize baby's temperature, blood sugar and cardiorespiratory status, stimulate breastmilk production and improve breastfeeding duration.
- When breastfeeding twins, it may be helpful to breastfeed both babies at the same time. This may increase milk production and decrease the amount of time spent on feeding both babies.
- Keeping a chart of feeding times, duration of feeds, wet diapers and stools can be helpful for the first week of life especially in the case of multiples. Print a copy of our easy-to-use feeding logs.
- If introducing a pacifier or bottle, it may be helpful to wait until good breastfeeding has been established. Most experts suggest waiting a month to introduce bottles and/or pacifiers.
- Growth spurts are frequent during the first year of life. Generally speaking (remembering that every baby is different), it is said that babies typically go through these growth spurts around 2-3 weeks of life, 6 weeks, 3 months and again around 6 months of age. During growth spurts, your baby may demand more frequent nursing which signals your body to increase your milk supply.
- Breastfed babies tend to weigh less than formula fed babies. As a general rule, babies double their birth weight by 4-6 months, triple their birth weight by 1 year and quadruple their birth weight by 2. Be sure your baby's doctor is using the new World Health Organization growth charts to monitor your baby's growth. Find out more about these charts and print them by reading our WHO Growth Charts for Infants & Children.
- The Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all infants be given daily vitamin D supplements to prevent a condition called rickets. Rickets is the softening of bones in children which can potentially lead to fractures and deformities. The new recommendation (revised November 2008) is 400 IU (international units) per day starting in the first couple of days of life. Vitamin D supplements should be continued until your baby is able to drink at least 1 liter (approximately 34 ounces) of vitamin D fortified formula or milk per day. Discuss vitamin D supplements with your pediatrician.
- If you are running a fever, be sure to notify your physician. Fevers are not a contraindication for breastfeeding. Your baby will actually receive antibodies to the illness that you are fighting through your breastmilk.
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Recommended Breastfeeding Products For You and Your Baby
AAP (2005). Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.
AAP (2008). Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and Adolescents