5 Ways to Know if Your Baby is Getting Enough Breastmilk

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

Read time: 4 minutes

How do you know if your baby is getting enough breastmilk?

  • Know which signs show that baby is getting enough breastmilk

  • Understand how much weight a breastfed newborn may gain

  • Look for signs of a good breastfeeding latch

Breastfeeding doesn’t always seem as instinctive as it’s hyped up to be. In fact, because we can’t see how much our baby is drinking, many people wonder if their little one is getting enough breastmilk.

The good news is that there are several ways to tell if your baby is consuming adequate amounts of breastmilk.

Read on to learn five ways to know if your little one is getting enough while feeding at the breast.

1. Your baby is gaining weight appropriately

The most important sign that your little one is getting enough breastmilk is that they are gaining weight well.

With that said, it’s important to note that it’s common for babies to lose weight during the first few days of life. If your baby has lost no more than about 7% of their birth weight in the first few days and is starting to gain that weight back over the next week or so, then you are likely off to a good start.1,2

Your child’s pediatrician or health care provider will weigh your baby on a medical-grade scale at each visit, helping you to know if your little one is getting sufficient breast milk to support their growth.3

How much weight gain is normal for breastfed babies?

During the first 4 months of life, breastfed babies will gain on average between 5.5 and 8.5 ounces per week.7

After that, their weight gain goes down to 3.25 – 4.5 ounces per week between 4 and 6 months, and then to 1.75 – 2.75 ounces per week for babies between 6 and 12 months.7

Note that breastfed babies typically gain weight at a slower pace than those who are fed infant formula.8 To help account for this difference in weight gain, be sure to let your child’s pediatrician know you are breastfeeding so they can use breastfeeding-specific growth charts.9

2. Your baby is breastfeeding enough times per 24 hours

A breastfed baby will feed 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period during the first few months of life.10

Feeding frequently is important not only because breastmilk is easily and quickly digested, but also because feeding this often will help you establish an adequate breastmilk supply.11,12

Tips for breastfeeding your baby:

Feed baby on demand, or when baby asks to eat. This will typically be about 10-12 times per day during the first few weeks of life and 8-12 times per day for the next few months.2

Watch for hunger and feeding cues such as rooting (moving their head to search for the breast), baby licking or making sucking sounds, or bringing a hand to face or mouth.3

Babies sometimes feed in clusters (lots of feedings in a very short amount of time) or may go a few hours between feedings. Knowing your baby’s hunger cues will help you understand when they’re ready for the next meal.

Sleepy babies may need to be woken to eat. If you have a sleepy baby it may be necessary to wake them every 2 to 4 hours to feed until you know that baby is gaining weight well and getting enough breastmilk.4,10

Alternate breasts. Let your baby feed and finish on one breast, then offer the other.

While your breastmilk supply is lower in the first few weeks, baby may drink fully from both breasts at some feeds. Once your mature milk comes in completely, usually between weeks 4 and 6, your little one may start drinking from one breast at a time. When this happens, alternate breasts at each feeding.

Total breastfeeding time for each session may be anywhere from 20-40 minutes in total during the first few weeks when babies are still learning how to breastfeed.2 Feed times will likely reduce as they get older and more efficient.11

Remember that all babies are different and your little one may feed for shorter or longer periods of time.2

Learn More:

Should I Breastfeed On Demand or on a Schedule?

Breastfeeding: How to Support a Good Milk Supply

Understanding Your Baby’s Hunger and Fullness Cues

Wondering if your little one is eating enough? Reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday – Friday 8am - 6pm (ET). Chat Now!

3. Baby has a good breastfeeding latch

A good latch will help not only make breastfeeding comfortable for both you and baby, but it is often a sign that baby is transferring milk well from the breast.5

Signs of a good latch include:
  • Wide open mouth that covers both the nipple as well as the lower part of your areola

  • Baby’s upper and lower lips are flanged out so you can see them

  • You can see and hear baby sucking and swallowing in a rhythmic pattern

  • Baby’s tongue is extended on the bottom of their mouth, with the tip over their lower gums

  • Latch is comfortable and the nipple is not misshapen after a feeding5

Learn more:

Top Breastfeeding Latching Tips

6 Breastfeeding Positions for You and Your Baby

4. Baby has adequate diaper output

Making enough diapers is often a positive indicator that baby is getting enough to eat.

How many diapers should baby be making?
  • First few days: Baby has one wet diaper per day of life (1 wet on day one, 2 wet on day two, etc) then 6+ wet diapers per 24-hour period once they are beyond 4 to 5 days old.

  • First few days: Baby has one or 2 blackish, tarry stools, and by day 3 or 4 have up to 2 stools per day that are a lighter yellow color.

  • By day 5 baby will pass 3+ loose, seedy-mustardy stools per 24-hour period.1,3,4,10,13

5. Baby is satisfied after a breastfeeding session

If your little one has had enough breastmilk, they’ll probably look relaxed and content.6 Many babies will have uncliched fists, have a relaxed facial expression, and will not show any more hunger cues.10

Questions? Check-in with baby’s pediatrician

Remember, each baby is different! If you have concerns that your baby is not getting the nutrition they need, check in with your baby’s pediatrician or health care provider.

A lactation counselor is also an excellent resource for breastfeeding mothers.

Let’s Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday – Friday 8am-6pm (ET). Chat Now!

Read more about the experts who help write our content!

For more on this topic, check out the following articles

How do I Keep my Breast or Formula Fed Baby Awake during Feedings?

What to Eat while Breastfeeding

How Much Should I Eat while Breastfeeding?

Which Foods Should I Avoid while Breastfeeding?