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April 6, 2016
In the first few days after birth, your baby will lose up to 7% of their birth weight. After mom’s milk comes in, baby will quickly gain this weight back — the average breastfed baby will gain around 6 oz. a week after they begin a steady feeding schedule. Aim to nurse your baby as often as necessary — there’s no such thing as nursing too often, but not nursing enough can have damaging effects on your baby’s health.
Your baby’s milk intake will increase quickly during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. After this, the amount baby drinks will generally remain the same for about six months. Exclusively breastfed babies usually drink about 25 oz. of milk each day. This varies, though, as some babies can drink as little as 19 oz. while some babies need 30 oz. of breast milk to feel satisfied.
Your baby’s stomach changes so much during this time, growing from the size of a tiny cherry at a day old to the size of an egg by two weeks! If your baby feeds around 8 times per day, you should divide the recommended amount of milk for their age by this number to ensure baby is getting enough at each feeding.
Your baby will give cues when they start to get hungry. Remember that crying is a very late signal of hunger and you should not wait until baby is crying to feed them.
Breast milk digests easier than formula, so breastfed babies get hungry more often during the day. This is a good thing!
The easiest way to tell if your baby is full is their contentment level. Does baby seem happy? Do they act rested and satisfied? This is usually a good sign that baby has gotten the milk that he or she needs to be full.
If your baby seems hungry after most feedings, then you should consult your pediatrician and have your baby weighed, as your baby may not be ingesting enough breast milk.
Babies will also experience sudden growth spurts throughout the first few weeks. During these spurts, your baby will probably need more milk than usual, as they are gaining back some of the weight they lost in the days following birth.
Cluster nursing is also very normal. This is when baby wants to nurse very frequently for shorter sessions, usually during the evening. This may interrupt the fussy moments that babies go through during the first few months. To learn more, read our guide to cluster pumping.
Breastfeeding should ideally continue for at least the first 12 months of life and as long as the mother wants the feeding to last after that.
Most women start introducing solids to baby around 6 months of age. You can feed your child until they are full as long as they are not overweight or obese (which sounds strange for a baby but can happen). Sometimes babies who have upset stomachs will cry and seem hungry. Try burping your baby, or rubbing their lower back to soothe their tummy.
To introduce your baby to solids, begin with about 1 teaspoon of pureed food or cereal at a time (mix the cereal with 4-5 teaspoons of breast milk). Increase to 1 tablespoon of pureed food or cereal/breast milk mix twice a day (gradually) and continue to feed your child until he or she is full.
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