Is Your Newborn Eating Enough? 5 Questions to Ask

Becoming a new parent is an amazing time of new beginnings.  A new sweet babe, a new role as Mama and Parent, and a new level of worry.  As a new parent, you realize that it’s not just about you anymore but that you have a new baby who depends on you.  This can be such an overwhelming feeling. Now since Google can be such a scary place when you start searching for answers, I will provide some guidelines here to help you answer one of the most asked questions: is my newborn eating enough?

How much to offer your newborn during the first week

Let’s first start with the first week with your newborn.  This is a time of so many changes for both mom and the newborn. A time of learning and recovery. On average, your milk will take about 3-5 days to come in. This amount of breastmilk your body makes (or colostrum) matches the size of the newborn’s belly.  This is such a small amount and very important to remember for both breastfed and bottle fed babies. For babies who are being breastfed, a small amount of colostrum goes a long way! For bottle fed babies, you will need to be mindful of how much you are offering your newborn to ensure they are not being overfed.  Their tummies are small and so the volume of milk will also be small! 

Each day, your newborn’s stomach will grow and will be able to take a bit more. On average, newborns will want to be fed every 2-3 hours. The small amount of milk (colostrum) that they take will also be processed quickly by their bodies and they will be ready for more!

Size of your Newborns Stomach

Age of NewbornSize of Stomach
Days 0-2Marble (5 ml)
Days 3-5Ping Pong Ball (22-27ml)
Days 6 + onwardEgg (60-80ml)

Now that you’ve made it through the first week, let’s talk about how to tell if your newborn is eating enough. I’ll give you a hint…it has nothing to do with timed feeds!

5 questions to ask yourself about your Newborns Eating

  1. What is coming out? That’s right, I’m talking about peeing and pooping. During the first month our memories are not so great as most likely you will be sleep deprived and your hormones will be all over the place.  There are many apps out there that will help you keep track of what is coming out and if you are wanting a pen and paper version, here is The Mama Coach version!

2. How often is your newborn wanting to feed? Newborns are known to cluster feed at least once during the day.  However, during the rest of the day, is your newborn having full, effective feeds? What I mean by this is, are you offering dinner and desert?  Allowing your baby to fully empty the first breast will provide all the foremilk and fatty goodness of the hindmilk. Then offer the other breast for dessert. Your baby may not want it or only take a little but that’s ok! You’ll offer this breast first at the next feed. Also, is your baby staying awake during the feed? When your babe starts to flutter suck or slow down on sucking, provide a couple hand expressions of milk to see if your babe is still wanting to feed. If not, slowly take your babe off the breast. For bottle fed babes, when sucking slows, slowly try to pull out the bottle and if the newborn sucks the nipple back in and keeps feeding, they are still hungry. If the bottle slips out, they are done. Notice- I didn’t once talk about watching the clock or limiting the length of the feed! It’s about watching the baby and not the clock!

3. Is your baby content after a feed? A full baby is generally a settled baby. This is where you get the term, milk drunk!  If your newborn is more often than not unsettled following a feed, I would reach out for support to assess if there is something going on with your babies latch, or the formula.

4. Are they gaining weight? Plotting your newborn’s weight on a graph can sometimes be a scary thing.  The main thing to remember with the graphs is that you want your newborn’s weight to be steadily increasing and not staying in a straight line or decreasing. Weighing each feed is not necessary to gauge how much your baby is eating but rather to check your baby’s  weight daily or every couple of days. Follow the guideline of your medical care provider if weight has been an issue.

5. What is your Mama gut telling you? If you ever feel like something is off or you are worried about your newborn, seek support! Don’t worry about what others will think because you know your baby best! 

If you have concerns after asking yourself these questions, seek out help from a medical professional. Once you have done that and would like support to help you through the newborn phase or to help with your feeding journey whether it be breastfeeding, bottle feeding, pumping or a combination of all three, please reach out to your friendly Mama Coach.  I would be happy to assess and support you and your baby through this process and reach your goals!

Sincerely,

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