New parents often worry whether or not their baby is eating enough and if they are still hungry after feeding. After all, your baby is growing so quickly, who’s to say that she doesn’t need more milk today than she did yesterday? It’s not like she can communicate her needs verbally, so you have to be able to read her non-verbal cues.
When it comes to formula, a good rule of thumb is to feed your baby two and a half ounces of formula per pound of weight. So, if your baby weights 10 pounds, she should have 25 ounces of formula per day. Of course, your baby may want a little more or a little less, but this is a good rule of thumb. Once you know how much your baby typically needs, it makes knowing whether she is consuming enough much easier. Because you can see the milk disappearing out of the bottle, you can feel fairly certain of how much food has gotten into your little one.
With breastfed babies, knowing if they have gotten enough milk can be a bit trickier. Babies should nurse every two or three hours, or eight to 12 times per day. On average, breastfed babies take in about 25 ounces of milk per day, but this number can vary slightly. Therefore, if you want to be completely sure your baby is taking in enough sustenance, you can try pumping so that you can measure the milk and see how much your baby is actually eating. Remember though, when it comes to breastfeeding, you really cannot over-feed your baby. So, if your baby wants more milk or wishes to eat after just one hour instead of two, go ahead and feed her.
With all that being said, before you start calculating weights and ounces or shopping for a new breast pump, you can look for other signs that will indicate that your baby has gotten enough to eat. Interestingly enough, your infant’s behavior can be the best signifier of her full belly. Here are some tell-tale signs that your bundle of joy is feeling satisfied.
- Your Baby Appears Content –You can’t argue with a smiling, cooing infant. If your baby seems gratified, chances are she’s feeling happy and fulfilled. When your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, she will let you know it in no uncertain terms. Therefore, if you find your baby is quiet and shows no signs of distress, you know her tummy is filled.
- Count the Diaper Changes – A baby that is eating enough will wet six to eight diapers per day and have regular bowel movements. Breastfed babies can have up to 10 bowel movements a day during the first couple of months, while bottle fed babies will have about six. As the baby gets older, she can have as little as one bowel movement every other day. As long as it is regular, you are usually okay.
- Sleeps Well – One of the most common worries parents have is that their baby has not gotten enough to eat because they fell asleep during a feeding. It does happen fairly often that a baby dozes off after just a few sips of milk, however, this baby will usually not sleep for long. She will typically awaken shortly after dozing off, crying to eat more. Assuming your baby has had some full feedings throughout the day, if she falls into a restful sleep, she is usually full.
- Awake and Alert – Just as with adults, if your baby is hungry she will not be able to concentrate very well. If your baby seems dazed or inattentive, she may still be hungry. On the contrary, if she is very focused on a toy or seems fascinated by her hand, she is almost certainly well fed.
- You’re Turned Down – Babies know how to say “when” If you try to feed a baby that’s already full, she’ll typically reject your offering by turning her head away or pushing the nipple out of her mouth with her tongue.
- Gaining Weight –The best way to know your baby is eating enough is by her weight gain. If she is growing and gaining weight as she should, then you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your baby is full most of the time. If, on the other hand, your baby is underweight and frequently falls asleep during feedings or sleeps through mealtimes, try changing her diaper or giving her a bath in order to wake her up and then try feeding her again once she is alert.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you are truly not sure if your baby is eating enough and thriving, you should seek the help of your pediatrician. If your baby is lethargic, not wetting diapers or nurses endlessly and still seems hungry and distressed, get help right away.