Last updated September 9th, 2020
We all come in different shapes and sizes, and it’s often difficult to know exactly how much milk your baby needs on a daily basis.
Your baby might be drinking less milk for numerous reasons. Some of the most common reasons could be tummy or other discomforts, your baby is full, or they’re tired/distracted. Give your little one a break and try again in about 30 minutes to an hour. If this is persisting for days you can visit your baby’s pediatrician to get answers.
Aside from the more common reasons I just shared, there could be a few other less common reasons your baby isn’t drinking enough milk.
One of them is that you might have transitioned from breastfeeding to bottle, and they’re not yet comfortable with the new way of taking in milk. Your baby will definitely know the difference, and will need some time. If you’re adjusting from breastfeeding to bottle, because of pain during feeding, you could try doing half breastfeeding and half bottle so that your little one is nourished.
It’s tough to think about breastfeeding when your little one might not latch well. Try to do a balance of 1 breastfeeding session for every 2-3 bottle feedings, and slowly lean towards bottle feeding more, until your little one is comfortable.
Another reason your little one might not drink milk, aside from being full, is that you might have added some additives like cereal or formula to the milk. Your baby’s pediatrician might have recommended some more calorie intake after the last check-in, and given you suggestions like adding some cereal or other additive to the baby’s milk.
This new taste isn’t familiar, and your little one isn’t happy. Again, give it time and see how they adapt over a few days. You might notice them drinking more of the milk, while still not drinking it entirely. That’s progress.
If they’re not drinking the enhanced milk consistently after 2-3 feedings, you might want to revert back to pure breastmilk so that your baby is getting its proper nutrition.
Table of Contents
How often should I feed my baby?
This is an important thing to discuss, that I wanted to bring up first. There is no right answer. You as the parent will know best by observing your little one over time, how much milk they need, and how often.
The next best person to get advice from is your pediatrician, who also sees a variety of little ones, to best give your baby a plan for feeding.
When we look online or on the side of baby formula bottles, they give recommendations that might not fit well with your little one. Sometimes it’s way too much milk for them, and sometimes it’s not enough.
Babies are great at giving signals if they’re hungry or full, just pay attention. If your baby is still trying to latch on to the bottle after the milk is over, they might be hungry. If they stop drinking after most of the milk is gone, they might not be distracted, but rather full.
The best tip here, one that helped my family, is to keep a simple log journal for reference.
In my household, both parents and grandma were helping to bottle feed our little one over time. To stay in sync, we had one of those legal pads in the kitchen, where we simply logged the date, feeding time, and how much the baby drank.
Our pediatrician said it was totally normal for the baby to go up and down during each feeding, but to look at the daily total to make sure it was around 18-20 ounces on a daily basis when she was about 5-6 months old.
Don’t take those numbers as reference points for your little one, it could vary, which is why it’s important to discuss with your own pediatrician.
Whether you’re mostly feeding your little one, or have a helpful household to take turns, make sure to have a journal to log in every feeding. We did this for the first year, from the day she came home from the hospital, to a month or two after her first birthday. It helped a lot.
How do I know when my baby is full when breastfeeding?
This is a great question, because unlike bottle feeding, with breastfeeding you won’t know how much milk your baby is drinking. With breastfeeding, you’ll have to take cues from your little one that they’re full.
Let’s go over some of those cues:
- Often called “milk drunk”, your baby has had enough milk and looks sleepy, no longer tightly latching on.
- Your baby is much calmer than when he or she first latched on. If you pay attention to this sigh, you’ll know that your baby is slowly getting full and might be okay to stop soon.
- You’ll notice your breast getting softer. This is a cue on you and not your baby, but as your little one drinks milk during each feeding, you’ll notice your breast getting softer. This is because your milk supply is going down, and your little one is getting fed.
- Checking for wet diapers. If you’re unsure that your baby is getting enough milk, but he or she is having plenty of diaper changes with good wet diapers, then you’ll know that they’re consuming enough milk.
I shared a tip earlier about logging all bottle feedings for your little one, and that’s also relevant when you do breastfeeding. Whereas with bottle feeding you could log down exact ounces of milk that your baby drank, you can replace that with the start and end time of breastfeeding.
You can also log how many diapers were changed daily, and of that how many were wet diapers and how many were poop diapers, to get a good idea of what’s going in and what’s coming out.
Your baby is drinking less milk as they get older
As your baby gets older, they’ll naturally drink less milk. With the introduction of solids, your little one will definitely feel satiated much longer than with their previous liquid diet. This is especially true if you give your baby solids before giving them milk.
Some babies will even like eating solids over having milk, and will push the liquid away in preference of more solid food. This is where each baby is unique, and watching out for your babies cues are very helpful.
We started introducing very light solid food (oatmeal and rice ceral) to our little one around 6 months old, and for our baby, she kept a good balance of milk and solids as she grew up.
If your baby is around 6 months at the moment, it’s good to know right now that over the months your baby will rely on milk less and less to the point where they only need it to supplement them while they’re eating solids.
If your baby is around 0-6 months at the moment, the time when milk is usually almost 100% of their diet, then take a look at some final tips on what you can do about your baby not drinking enough milk.
1. Call your pediatrician to discuss what’s going on, sharing your log of past feedings, and your concerns. Going over it with your pediatrician, you can get a better idea if it’s normal or something to address.
2. Pay more attention to your babies cues, this is extremely helpful and important. Is your baby drinking less milk, but happily playing in between feedings? Is your baby having the same amount of diaper changes back when they were drinking plenty of milk?
3. Remember that your baby is unique. Each baby will take in however much milk they need, some more, some less. Don’t compare your baby to the recommended ounces data on the side of the formula bottle or from what your friend shared their baby is taking in. While it’s helpful guideline information, it won’t help alot with your baby’s needs.
4. Stop experimenting with solid food consumption for the time being. Around 5-6 months is the age when parents start trying to feed mashed veggies or cereal to their babies. Your baby might not be having a great transition, with some discomfort from the new food. Try pausing your efforts to go from liquid to solids, and keep your baby on a milk diet for a little longer.
Aside from meeting with our babies peatrician to go over any possible concerns, looking for cues was the biggest help. We all look at our baby with love and joy, but sometimes miss important cues on how our baby is feeling.
At this time when our baby can’t communicate with us verbally, understanding how they feel by looking at how they react was crucial for us to make sure our baby was one happy kiddo.
Found a tip or want to share your expereince? Please post below so other mommies and daddies can benefit. Thank you!