One of the most asked questions that I hear from breastfeeding moms, especially pumping moms, is “is my baby over eating?” As moms, our primary goal is to make sure that our baby is happy and healthy. In the beginning, that is what it feels that we have been put on this earth for, to make our baby happy.
When our baby becomes upset, it is very easy for us to jump to any number of conclusions as to why he is upset. He’s hungry, he has a dirty diaper, he has gas, he’s sleepy, he’s too cold, he’s too hot, anything. It’s exhausting.
While we can’t control or fix every problem (though we try), the one thing that we do have some control over is how much or how little our baby eats. Every mom worries about the amount of milk her baby is drinking. Some worry that it is too much, while others are panicking because they think it isn’t enough.
I’ve seen some moms try to restrict the amount of milk that their baby is taking because they’ve felt it was too much, when really, her baby was just hungry.
How to Tell When it is too Much Milk
Babies are not like adults. They can’t overeat. Not and still keep it down anyway.
If you’re feeding your baby a bottle and they proceed to throw all or most of it up soon afterward, then it was too much. If your baby is taking the whole bottle without any issues, then that’s how much milk your little one wants to eat. You cannot over feed a breast fed baby.
I’ll say it again for those in the back.
You cannot over feed a breast fed baby!
That’s it, that’s the big secret. Your baby may not be able to say anything yet, but he can tell you so much if you’re just willing to pay attention.
So watch for your baby’s cues. Is he getting sick after a feeding (not just a little spit up, we’re talking full blown puking), or is he happy and content? Watching for these signs is a great way to find out how much is enough.
So How Much Milk Should a Baby Drink?
If you go out and Google how much milk a baby is supposed to take, you will find several articles, most of which say that a baby should take no more than 32oz of milk per day. These maximums are for formula fed babies.
If your baby is drinking the majority of his bottles as formula, then these numbers should be paid attention to. Babies can eat too much formula which can lead to eating issues later in life.
If your baby is getting exclusively breast milk, or if you’re only supplementing a bottle or two a day, then feed that baby what he wants.
Babies will drink an average of 18-32oz a day. I have seen my kid on more than one occasion far surpass that. He has gotten up to 40oz before and has even taken 11oz in one sitting. That kid loves to eat!
He is not a big kid though. He has always been in the 14th percentile or lower for weight, but he hovers around the 98th percentile for height. He isn’t chunky but the kid eats like a moose. And that’s okay.
Keep in mind too that babies will typically eat more when they’re going through a growth spurt. Babies grow tremendously in their first year of life. All of that growing requires a lot of calories and nutrients. So don’t be surprised if your baby fluctuates in his milk needs. It is all completely normal.
As long as your baby is gaining weight appropriately and staying on his curve, then you really don’t have anything to worry about. If you’re really concerned, you can always talk to your pediatrician. They are definitely a better source than Google.
Be aware that there are a lot of pediatricians that will only use the formula weight chart rather than the breast milk chart. If you ever have a doctor tell you that your breast fed baby is overweight, I would (politely) request a second opinion because, in case you didn’t know, you cannot over feed a breast fed baby.
Don’t believe me? Kelly Mom has some great information about growth charts.
So relax. Pay attention to your baby’s cues and let him tell you how much milk is enough. Trust me, he’ll let you know.
Until next time!