Is your baby drinking enough milk?

Essential information to rememberThe number of times your baby pees and poops every day is a good way to tell if she is drinking enough.

Before you go back home, make sure you can tell if your baby is feeding well and getting all the milk he needs. Talk to your midwife or a nurse at the hospital if in doubt.

When your baby is feeding enough, the appearance and quantity of his stools and urine will change. Here are a few signs to help you determine if your newborn is getting enough milk.

Urine

Urine is darker and more concentrated over the first 2 or 3 days. Your baby may also have orange stains (urate crystals) in her diaper: this is normal for the first 2 days. In the first week, the number of times your baby pees will increase by one every day:

  • Day 1 = 1 time
  • Day 2 = 2 times
  • Day 3 = 3 times, etc.

After the first week, your baby will urinate at least 6 times in 24 hours if she is drinking enough milk. Each miction (urination or pee) generally contains 30 ml to 45 ml of urine. The urine is clear and odourless.

Stools

Over the first 2 or 3 days of your baby’s life, stools will be dark and sticky; this is called meconium. Digesting milk will bring about a change in stool appearance. Gradually, they will become less sticky and a dark green colour. If your baby is drinking enough, there will be no meconium at all left in his digestive system after the fifth day. Stools will be yellow or green if he is drinking breast milk, or greenish beige if he is being fed commercial infant formulas.

If your baby is drinking enough, his stools will be liquid or very soft. He may have 3 to 10 bowel movements per day over the course of the first 4 to 6 weeks. If your baby doesn’t have at least one bowel movement per day, he might not be drinking enough. After 4 to 6 weeks, some babies fed with breast milk will have fewer but very substantial bowel movements even if they are drinking enough (e.g., one bowel movement every 3 to 7 days).

Weight gain

Even if your newborn is drinking enough, he will nonetheless lose a little weight (5 to 10%) over the first few days. He will start putting it back on again around the fourth day and will regain his birth weight by around the second week (10 to 14 days). Once your baby has regained his birth weight, he can gain between 0.6 to 1.4 kg per month until the age of 3 months. Regular weight gain is a good sign that your baby is drinking enough. There’s no point weighing your baby every day to see if he is drinking enough. If you are worried that your baby is not drinking enough, contact a CLSC nurse, your midwife or your family doctor. For more information on urine, stools and the size of your infant, read The newborn.

Signs that your baby is drinking enough

  • He wakes up on his own when hungry.
  • He feeds well and often (8 times or more per day for breast-fed babies and 6 times or more per day for formula-fed babies).
  • He seems full after drinking.
  • He pees and poops in sufficient quantities.
  • He is putting on weight.

Signs that your baby is not drinking enough

  • He is very drowsy and very difficult to wake for feeding.
  • His urine is dark yellow (like an adult’s) or there is very little of it.
  • There are orange stains in his urine after the first two days.
  • His stools still contain meconium after the fifth day.
  • He has fewer than one bowel movements per 24 hours between the age of 5 days and 4 weeks.