Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, knowing if your baby is getting what she needs isn’t always simple—at least in the first few weeks. Here are the expert tips to help reassure you.
“It’s normal to worry,” says midwife and feeding consultant Nikki Khan. “All babies tend to lose weight in the first 48 hours. Anything under 10 percent of body weight is considered normal.”
After the initial weight drop, your baby should climb back up the weight chart, gaining around an ounce per day in the early months.
In the first 6 weeks, the other key signs that baby is feeding sufficiently include:
- Roughly 6-8 wet nappies a day; some dirty nappies
- Baby settles quickly after feed
- Baby is content in between feeds—this varies between infants and is dependent on growth stages, but could be around 2 hours
The golden rule is to not work yourself into knots over feeding—you’re born with the instinct to nurture your child, but not the exact know-how; feeding is a skill both you and baby learn together.
A really helpful tip is to visualise your baby’s tummy when you feel the worry creeping in: at birth, her tummy is only the size of a marble, and just a ping pong ball by the third day. This means it’ll take a small amount to fill the belly, but it also means the milk will be digested quickly—hence nursing marathons on the sofa.
Also bear in mind that the quality of the milk changes as you feed. The first milk—or ‘foremilk’ is watery, and a thirst quencher. It’s important you let baby drain one breast fully so that she can get the ‘hindmilk’, the fattier, calorie-dense milk baby needs to grow.
“Always offer the second breast even if they just take a bit and then start on that breast next time,” advises Nikki.
Nikki also emphasises that low milk supply is a lot less common than many new mums think. If your baby is itching for a feed up to eight times a day—sometimes more!—that’s within the normal range, and not a sure sign of poor milk production.
“As long as the cycle of supply and demand is maintained with correct latching techniques, you should be fine. Make sure you drink lots to maintain quality,” reassures Nikki.
As far as bottle-feeding goes, you can work according to measurements to get an approximate idea of what your baby requires:
Between 150ml and 200ml of formula per kilogram (5 to 7 ounces for every 2.2 pounds of body weight every day)
Nikki advises delayed mixed feeding if it’s part of your plan—at least until breastfeeding is well-established (6-8 weeks). “As breast milk works by supply and demand, still express at the appropriate times to maintain your milk supply.”
If you still have concerns about feeding, always chat to your midwife or health visitor.