How do I know my baby is eating enough?
Giving your baby nothing apart from breast milk is recommended for the first 26 weeks (6 months) – also known as exclusive breastfeeding. This is because it contains all the energy, nutrients and fluid your baby needs for healthy growth and development. I
Breast milk is the only food or drink babies need in the first six months of life.
Your breast milk changes to meet your baby’s changing needs as they grow and develop.
Colostrum (often described as ‘first milk’) is produced in the first few days after birth. It is rich in antibodies, these are proteins that play a key role in the baby’s immune system.
Two to three days after birth, colostrum changes to milk that may look thin compared with colostrum and babies will then begin to take larger volumes of milk.
As well as changing over time from colostrum to thinner milk, breast milk also changes during a feed – the milk available at the start of a feed is more dilute, providing the baby with extra fluids, whereas that at the end of a feed is more energy-dense.
Babies vary a lot in terms of the number of breastfeeds they need in a 24-hour period. While it is common for babies to breastfeed 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period, some babies may need fewer feeds and some more. A ‘breastfeed’ could be the baby feeding from one or both breasts, or from each breast more than once.
How long to continue breastfeeding for is a personal decision for each family to make. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. no other fluids or solids) for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 2 years or as long as mother and baby desire.
Feeding your baby when he/she is showing the cues, keeps your milk supply up.
If your baby shows the following signs then it is likely that you do have enough milk:
- At least 6 very wet cloth nappies or at least 5 very wet disposable nappies in 24 hours. The urine should be odourless and clear/very pale in colour.
- Baby gain weight.
- Your baby is alert and reasonably contented and does not want to feed constantly. It is however normal for babies to have times when they feed more frequently.
What you achieve
Breastfeeding will give your baby the healthiest start possible and there are health benefits for you too. And it’s free!
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