Signs of adequate milk intake

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

Most mothers have lots of milk and a baby who is getting enough milk: (1) follows a typical breastfeeding pattern, (2) is generally happy when fed and held, (3) looks fleshy, and (4) gains weight normally. Some babies are underfed and need extra feeding with milk, but supplementing a baby without good reason can interfere with breastfeeding and create health problems for both mother and baby. Breastfeeding babies should be monitored carefully by a health-care provider to ensure they are growing normally, especially in the first few weeks of life.

Consider using our quick assessment tool, "Is my baby getting enough milk?" to guide you through this concern.

A) Signs of a baby getting enough milk

Most mothers have lots of milk and most babies will show clear signs if they are underfed.

A baby who is getting enough milk will show the following four patterns:

  1. Has a normal breastfeeding pattern for the baby’s age, including:
    1. A normal number of feeds each day
    2. A normal amount of time at each feed
    3. Feeding in three normal stages
  2. Is generally happy when fed and held and acts normally
  3. Looks fleshy
  4. Gains weight normally as evaluated on a growth chart

A baby who is not getting enough milk will show abnormal behaviour in two or more of these areas.

Breastfeeding babies should be weighed regularly on an appropriate growth chart and monitored by their health-care providers to ensure they are growing normally or not. This is especially important in the first few days and weeks after delivery when babies can lose weight quickly or if the babies are born premature.

Milk signs can be helpful when assessing milk supply. Listening for swallows is less helpful.