Baby not feeding as long

Signs baby isn’t getting enough breastmilk

Every parent wants to do everything they can to help their child grow healthy and strong. And breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. But it doesn’t always go smoothly, especially when you’re just starting out. So, you may wonder at some point: Is my baby getting enough breastmilk? How can I tell?

Try not to worry. We have a team of breastfeeding and lactation experts to help you and your baby work through breastfeeding challenges.

Read on to learn how to tell if baby is getting enough breastmilk, some suggestions to help make sure baby gets enough to eat, and when you should make an appointment with your baby’s doctor or a lactation consultant.

How do I know if my newborn is eating enough?

If you’re exclusively feeding your baby from the breast, rather than pumping to bottle feed, it’s hard to tell exactly how much your baby is eating. Here are six signs your baby is getting enough breastmilk.

1. Baby is feeding regularly

Babies breastfeed frequently and often in clusters. Frequent, effective feedings help your baby grow, and help ensure you have enough breastmilk for the next feeding.

During the first two months, expect your baby to nurse 10 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. In the beginning, each breastfeeding session will likely take between 20 to 45 minutes. If you are feeding your baby less than eight times a day, or if the sessions are very short or very long, you should talk to your baby’s doctor.

As your baby grows comfortable with nursing and gets a little older, they’ll be able to get what they need in a shorter amount of time – and with fewer nursing sessions.

2. Baby is swallowing during feeding

When baby first latches onto your breast, they will suck rapidly to get the milk flowing. But once things are going, the sucking will become slower and deeper as they pull the milk into their mouth and swallow.

Watch baby’s jaw for movement and listen for swallowing sounds. If you see baby’s jaw move or hear them swallowing, they’re getting at least some breastmilk.

If baby isn’t getting enough milk, their sucking may not progress to that slower, rhythmic pulling. Baby may also fall asleep at the breast, take long breaks while breastfeeding or give up within a couple minutes.

3. Baby is content and happy

If your baby seems satisfied after breastfeeding, they’re likely getting enough milk. But if they always want to nurse, it may be a sign that baby is still hungry after breastfeeding – especially if they appear sluggish or they’re losing weight.

4. Your breasts feel softer and not as full after feeding

Your breasts should feel softer at the end of a feeding. Emptying as much milk from your breasts as possible will help create more supply for the next feeding.

If you’re worried about your milk supply or that you’re not eating the right things for breastfeeding, here’s some good news: Nearly all moms produce enough breastmilk to feed baby without any major changes to their diet.

Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable at times, but it shouldn’t be painful. Pain in the breasts or nipples can be cause for concern. So if you are experiencing pain, talk to your baby’s doctor or a lactation consultant about it.

5. Baby is gaining weight as expected

It’s normal for a newborn’s weight to fluctuate during the first few days of their life. Typically, by day 10, a baby’s weight has rebounded to their birth weight. Until 6 months of age, babies usually gain between 5 and 8 ounces a week. At five months, your baby’s weight should be double what it was at birth.

6. You’re changing a lot of diapers each day

Diaper duty starts small but, before you know it, those diapers pile up.

How many dirty diapers should a newborn have per day? And what about poopy diapers? One thing that’s helpful to remember is that during their first week, your baby will have about the same number of wet and poopy diapers as the days of their life. After that, parents can expect to change eight to 10 diapers each day.

  • Day 1: At least one wet and one poop
  • Day 2: At least two wets and two poops
  • Day 3: At least three wets and three poops
  • Day 4: At least four wets and four poops (from this point, poops should be yellowish in color)
  • Day 5 and beyond: At least 5-6 wets and 3-4 poops

[Click on the image below to enlarge and view it in a new window]

That’s a lot of dirty diapers! To keep baby’s skin healthy, change them as soon you can and make sure to get into all the folds of baby’s skin when cleaning out the poop.

Also pay attention to your little one’s bottom. If you notice redness, bumps or signs of severe diaper rash, talk to your baby’s doctor about what you can do.

How to help your baby feed more effectively

It’s often said that timing is everything. This is certainly true when it comes to breastfeeding sessions, as well as when to introduce bottle feeding and pacifiers.

Watch for cues that your baby is hungry

You can help make sure your baby is eating enough by looking for opportunities to breastfeed, rather than waiting until baby is upset and crying.

If your baby is hungry, they’ll let you know in a variety of ways ranging from subtle suggestions to outright demands. We talk about these in terms of early cues, mid cues and late cues.

Early hunger cues can include stirring from sleep, opening their mouth or turning their head toward your breast when you stroke the corner of their mouth.

If you don’t respond to these early cues, baby has other ways to let you know – which brings us to mid cues. Some common mid cues are stretching, becoming more physically active and bringing their hand to their mouth.

If these mid-cues don’t result in a breastfeeding session, baby will take drastic measures to let you know that they are really, really hungry. They’ll cry and howl. They’ll flail their arms and legs around. They’ll turn red from all the exertion. These are late feeding cues and at this point, baby is often too upset to eat. So, you’ll need to calm them before you can feed them.

By feeding your baby when you see an early cue, you can help keep feedings calm and effective. It’s so much easier for baby to focus on getting enough to eat if they aren’t using all their energy expressing the big emotions they’re feeling.

This poster shows what baby’s feeding cues may look like.

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Only introduce a bottle or pacifier when the time is right

Bottles and pacifiers encourage a different type of sucking than breastfeeding. So you’ll want to wait until your little one is fully comfortable with breastfeeding before introducing either.

Most babies really latch on to breastfeeding by about two to four weeks after their birth. But for some, especially those who were born early, it can be longer.

You also don’t want to wait too long for baby’s first bottle. Introducing a bottle too late can be one reason why babies refuse a bottle. A lactation consultant or your child’s doctor can help you figure out the best way to start the breast to bottle transition.

Pacifiers are great for soothing and a recommendation for safe sleep for babies, but like with the bottle, hold off until baby has gotten really good at breastfeeding – usually about a month.

Signs your baby

isn’t getting enough breastmilk

Breastfeeding is a little different for every parent and baby. But there are a few signs baby may not be getting enough to eat to watch for:

  • Baby is sluggish or sleeping longer than usual. This is especially something to watch for in newborns. Because they are so little, newborns need to eat every 2-4 hours.
  • Feedings are too long or too short. If baby’s not getting enough milk, they may quickly give up on nursing after a couple minutes. Or, they may keep trying for over an hour.
  • Latching is really painful for you or it appears that baby hasn’t latched deeply enough.
  • Baby is not producing stools or their urine is not pale.
  • Baby isn’t gaining weight.

What to do if baby isn’t eating enough breastmilk

If you think your baby isn’t getting enough breastmilk, get breastfeeding support from your baby’s doctor or a lactation consultant. They can help you and your baby work through latching problems, low milk supply and feeding positions, and identify any underlying problems like tongue-tie. Just like you support your baby with breastmilk, they’re here to support you!

Choose a location and call to make an appointment with a lactation consultant

Breastfeeding sleepy and reluctant babies

Go back

There are lots of reasons why your baby may be reluctant to feed. It doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a good job as a mum. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to know all the answers straight away and speak to your midwife or health visitor if you have any questions or concerns, or are looking for ways to make feeding more comfortable.

How often should my baby feed?

All babies are different, but it's very common for babies not to feed all that much in the first 24-48 hours, and some don't attach at all. However, from day 2-3 days babies should become much more awake and feed in more frequent (but probably irregular) bursts at least 6 times in 24 hours.

How do I know if my baby's getting enough milk?

Photo of a baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding at first can be really hard to get used to and you might find yourself wondering if your baby has had enough milk - it can be very hard to judge how much breastmilk your baby has had, but they are clever wee things and you have to have some faith that your baby knows whether it needs more milk. There are signs to look out for if you think your baby isn't getting enough milk.

Why are some babies reluctant to feed?

This happens most often when babies don't get skin-to-skin contact with mum soon enough or for long enough after the birth. Ideally, you want skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight away and for as long as it takes for your baby to want to feed. If you don’t have any complications, your midwife will help you get skin-to-skin with your baby quickly after they are born. Some reluctant babies are just too tired, sore, or sedated to feed after birth, and others can't because they are premature, ill or jaundiced.

What if I miss my baby's signs that they're hungry?

New mums sometimes miss or don't understand their baby's feeding signs – our page about learning your baby's cues explains what you should be looking for. Don’t worry if it takes a while to get used to when your baby wants a feed – it's something you are both learning together and it's baby steps for both of you. It's completely understandable to be worried about how much milk your baby is getting if they're not feeding in the early hours and days. It might help to know that babies are born with several days' supply of fluid and stored fat to get them by until they're ready to feed.

What's the solution?

Your midwife will check in on you to make sure your baby is well and to help you spot the signs that they're ready to feed – remember you can ask your midwife (in the hospital or at home) to help show you how to get in a comfortable position to help get your baby feeding. This video shows just this – very often all it takes is some help with positioning, skin-to-skin contact and a little patience!

Top tips to encourage a reluctant or sleepy baby to breastfeed

Tip #1: Hand expressing to keep your milk supply up

Start hand-expressing your colostrum – this is the first milk you make, and helps protect your baby from illness and infection. You can give this to your baby by syringe, spoon, dropper or cup. Expressing helps to build a good milk supply for when your baby is ready to feed. If this is your first time breastfeeding, it will take some time to get used to expressing your milk. You can find out more about expressing here. 

In the first couple of days you only make small amounts of colostrum so don’t become disheartened if it is difficult or takes time. It will get easier as each day and week goes by.

Tip #2: Try lots of skin-to-skin contact

Aim for lots of skin contact and being close to soothe your baby and give them the opportunity to feed.

Tip #3: Try to find a comfortable feeding position

Biological 'laid back' breastfeeding positions can help encourage babies to feed. Your midwife will be able to show you comfortable ways to feed. You can find out more about feeding positions here.

Tip #4: Get your baby ready for a feed

Massaging your baby's skin, changing their nappy and expressing a little milk for them to taste can help get your baby interested in feeding.

Tip #5: Don’t force your baby to feed

Don’t push your baby by the head or try to force them to feed as this could put them off completely.

Getting to know your baby

Learning your baby's cues

Signs your baby isn't getting enough milk

Refusing the breast

Looking after yourself with a newborn

The Scotland wide donor milk bank

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Feeding Breastfeeding Common breastfeeding challenges Expectant Parents Baby (0-1 years)

Last updated: 31 May, 2022

what to do at home and why it happens

Mothers, fathers, grandparents experience great anxiety if a child refuses to eat, especially if this does not happen from time to time, but constantly. The fidget has to be persuaded to eat an extra spoonful of porridge, come up with new, unusual dishes and games so that the baby leaves the table full. "Komsomolskaya Pravda" deals with the expert, because of what you should and should not worry and how to increase children's appetite.

How much a child should eat at different ages

There are nutritional standards developed by scientists (1). It is important for parents to know the recommended numbers, but following the norms for grams will be a big mistake. It is better to focus on the common sense, well-being and mood of the baby.

The volume of breast milk or formula for newborns in the first 10 days of life depends on weight. If the baby was born with a weight of more than 3200 g, he should eat a volume of milk per day equal to the number of days lived multiplied by 70 (2). A child 5 days old eats 350 ml. If the baby's weight was less than 3200 g, the number of days lived is multiplied by 80.

From 1.5 weeks to 2 months: WHO recommends 1/5 of the baby's weight as normal (3). That is, with a weight of 4 kg, he should eat 800 ml per day.

From 2 to 4 months, mother's milk and formula are taken in the ratio of 1/6 of the baby's weight. You can calculate according to the formula - weight in grams divided by height in cm and multiplied by 70.

Babies from 4-6 months old eat 1/7 of their own weight. For 6-8 months, the norm will be about 1000-1100 ml of food per day, and for 8-11 months - 1200-1300 ml.

From 1 to 2 years old, children usually eat 1300-1400 ml of food per day. After 2 years, the Union of Pediatricians of Russia advises parents to switch to a full three meals a day with two intermediate snacks (4). On average, a child of this age eats 1500 ml per day.

After 4-5 years, the amount of food is increased to 2000 ml per day. It is recommended to distribute the calorie content of food as follows: breakfast - 30%, lunch - 35%, afternoon tea - 15% and dinner - 20%.

Nutritional norms for children at different ages according to WHO recommendations

9002 to 11 months
Age The diet per day is
from 1.5 weeks to 2 months 1/5 of the weight of the child
of 2 to 4 months 1/6 of the weight Child
from 4 to 6 months 1/7 weight of the child
from 6 to 8 months 1000-1100 ml
1200-1300 ml
from 1 to 2 years old 1300-1400 ml
from 2 to 5 years on average 1500 ml
older on average 2000 ml

Why the child does not eat anything

Appetite in children depends on the state of health, genetic characteristics, maturity, growth phase, mood and even the time of day. It is necessary to distinguish between painful manifestations and cases that most parents have to deal with.

Complete refusal to eat is called anorexia. If a child experiences a painful reaction to some food or dish, this is a state of idiosyncrasy. Most often, adults deal with hyporexia - a decrease in appetite. Let us examine in more detail each reason why a child refuses to eat or eats too little.


No feeling of hunger

The simplest and most obvious reason for poor appetite is that the baby is full. We try so hard to feed our kids that they just don't feel hungry and therefore have a hard time identifying it.

What should parents do? Don't be nervous, stay friendly and let your baby get hungry. Remove from your reach any foods and snacks that can interrupt your appetite - sweets, cookies, sandwiches, buns, juices, compotes and fruits. Offer your child food, but be prepared for him to say no. Wait until the baby himself offers to dine or agrees to your proposal.

Interest in some activity or game

Children are often so absorbed in a new toy that they forget to eat. An enthusiastic fidget does not want to give up an interesting business and break for lunch, so the calls of adults can be met with refusal or even whims.

Selective Appetite

If the child does not want to eat the main food and prefers to "bite", he may simply not like the taste and appearance of the dishes you cook. Try to choose other recipes, experiment with salt and spices. Perhaps the child does not want to eat too hot or cold food.

Intoxication during illness

When children feel unwell, they refuse to eat any food. This happens with SARS, stomatitis, otitis and other ailments. In infancy, appetite may decrease during teething.

When a child is sick, the body is unable to adequately absorb food. All forces are spent on eliminating the source of pain, so the brain does not send signals about hunger. As soon as health improves, appetite returns.

Effects of vaccinations

After vaccination, the child may lose his appetite. This is especially true in children in their first year of life. In preschoolers and children of primary school age, problems with eating after vaccination occur in 15-20% of cases. Don't despair - it won't be long!

Allergy manifestations

Appetite disorders may be caused by allergic reactions. For example, babies with atopic dermatitis often refuse to eat. When skin itching bothers, appetite fades into the background.

Few movements

Children of the first years of life are very active physically and rarely sit still. Natural mobility and outdoor play are the best way to work up an appetite. Some, on the contrary, spend a lot of time in front of the TV and at the computer, move little, and therefore do not experience a strong feeling of hunger.

Consequences of a child's poor nutrition

Regular malnutrition leads to the fact that the child's body does not receive enough nutrients for normal functioning. The child appears lethargic, drowsy and lethargic. With poor nutrition, there is a risk of underdevelopment of the brain, decreased learning and low immunity. Improper nutrition in childhood can lead to serious health problems in adulthood.

Parents are not in vain worried about the baby's poor appetite. Refusal to eat can be caused by serious chronic diseases, such as hormonal disorders.

For which symptoms should a child be seen by a doctor? If loss of appetite is accompanied by high fever, vomiting, rashes appear in the mouth or on the body, urination and stool become frequent. When a child loses weight, does not want to drink, or does not sleep well.

How to increase a child's appetite

Everyone has their own appetite. Some children like to eat more often, others refuse to eat, even when it's time to feed. However, there are ways to increase a child's appetite without violence, lectures, threats and blackmail.

Up to 1 year

A newborn child is completely dependent on the mother and sensitively reacts to her mood. In order for the baby to grow up happy and active, the mother must feed him in a good mood. It is necessary to apply to the chest in a calm environment, without loud, annoying extraneous sounds that can distract from eating.

There are many problems with breastfeeding that cause the baby to eat poorly. Causes of poor appetite can be improper attachment to the breast, inverted nipples of the mother, pain and excess gas in the abdomen of the crumbs. Sometimes lactation changes - there is little milk or, on the contrary, it pours excessively. From the mother's diet, breast milk can change the taste. When formula feeding, refusal to eat is sometimes caused by an incorrectly selected bottle or nipple.

In the first year of life, it is important that the child is monitored regularly by a pediatrician. Some children eat poorly because they are lactose intolerant, so milk is removed from their diet as early as possible. Sometimes the appetite increases from the introduction of complementary foods or the replacement of formula.


1-2 years old

At this age, the child likes to repeat after others, so it is important that he observes how adults, older brothers and sisters eat. A good way to develop eating behavior is playing with a spoon and a plate. An active interest in food is caused by joint table setting, shopping trips and products that the baby can eat with their own hands.

3-5 years old

Younger preschoolers like bright and unusual dishes, because food is also a game. Liven up cereals, soups and salads to make them look irresistible. Put food on plates with beautiful pictures. The child will want to finish eating quickly to see the “drawn story”. An effective way of teaching is the example of a peer. Take your little one to visit a baby who eats with appetite.

5-7 years old

Older preschoolers are extremely inquisitive. Involve your child in cooking as early as possible. Children are happy to break eggs for scrambled eggs, make sandwiches, knead the dough and put it into molds. A dish prepared with your own hands is much more interesting and tastier!

Over 7 years old

Schoolchildren have many responsibilities during the day, so routine is important. A healthy appetite can be instilled as a habit. Remove all unnecessary snacks and set clear rules in the family when family members sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is worth walking more in the fresh air, playing sports and avoiding negative conversations during meals.

Popular Questions and Answers

How to establish a child's interest in food?

This question is answered by Natalia Pakholyuk, nutrition expert, naturopath, detox coach :

— A child needs to be taught a variety of tastes, shown and allowed to try. For many parents, a bunch works in their heads: “cutlet-pasta-cucumber”. While children need fresh herbs, fresh vegetables and fruits, processed vegetables, cereals and legumes. Parsnips, beets, radishes, parsley, turnips, sweet potatoes - the younger generation has not heard of many cruciferous vegetables, much less tried them. But these vegetables are really tasty!

A child is not born with an understanding of the principles of healthy eating. All knowledge about food comes to children from their parents through their own experience. Of the prerequisites - the child must have a correct daily routine, including full meals and snacks. Nutrition rules should be clear. It does not happen that “today you can eat at night”, and tomorrow “you can’t”. Or “today chips are allowed”, at all other times it is “forbidden”.

I recommend that parents go shopping with their children and study in detail the composition of everything that is on the counter. Forming good eating habits is a process that never ends. Therefore, the child and the parent must be in constant communication: what can be eaten, what cannot be eaten, what should be added to the diet, and what should be removed.

Can a child be forced to eat?

“You can’t force or encourage children to eat more than they want, you can’t use food as a reward or make it a duty, you can’t regulate a child’s emotional state with the help of food,” says trainer-nutritionist Elena Kostyuk . “All this not only leads to overconsumption and is associated with weight gain in later life, but also disrupts the self-regulation of eating behavior. Children are not machines that require more or less the same amount of gasoline per kilometer. "Clean Plate Societies" should be a thing of the past. The right of the child is not to finish eating, to eat as much as he wants, and even to completely refuse food. If the child is healthy, active, develops according to age, has weight and height within the age norms, there is no reason to think that he does not receive enough food. For more complex cases, there is a food diary, nutrition structuring, consultation with a doctor (pediatrician or nutritionist), help from a child or family psychologist.

When do you need to see a doctor due to lack of appetite?

— If the child has no appetite, do not immediately run to the doctor. It is necessary to analyze the psychological component of the question: could stress, fear or resentment be the provoking factor? It is also necessary to exclude the factors of taking drugs and dietary supplements, illness, an abundance of snacks. And also do not forget that the lack of proper physical activity negatively affects appetite and metabolism,” explains nutrition expert Natalya Pakholyuk. - But if, in addition to loss of appetite, obvious symptoms of certain diseases are visible, of course, you need to go to the doctor - but it is for the treatment of the disease itself, and not for the desire to force the child to eat more.


  1. Udartseva TP Nutrition of children in the first year of life: theory and practice. URL:
  2. Kozlovsky A. A. Modern approaches to the nutrition of children in the first year of life. URL:
  3. Infant and young child nutrition | WHO recommendations. URL:
  4. Nutrition for children from 1 to 3 years old. URL:

If a child does not eat well: what to do and what not to do

What to do if the child does not want to eat.

- Malyusik, well, one more spoon - and that's it! Last! I ate only two, let's have a little more, here's the most delicious piece for you! - says the average mother, offering a spoon with one hand, playing the accordion with the other, showing the trick with the disappearance of the handkerchief with the third, turning the cutlets over with the fourth, while doing somersaults on one leg.

Sound familiar?

Every dad has an instinct to bring food home, and mom has the instinct to feed the child. And if he refuses to eat, a signal is triggered - "I'm a bad mother" or "the child is sick."

In this case, the most important thing for a parent to understand is whether the child DOES NOT WANT or CANNOT eat?

If the baby is running around, having fun and looking good, without showing any signs of illness, then most likely he does not want to eat. There can be many reasons:

  • A breastfeeding child prefers milk and dairy products, intuitively understanding that he needs calcium, and now milk is healthier for him than soup.
  • The child wants a cookie, not vegetables.
  • He really wasn't hungry. For example, his metabolism is slow, breakfast has not yet been digested, and lunch is already being offered. Or the child was sitting in front of the TV after breakfast and his appetite had not yet had enough time to play out. Compared to the boy next door who was outside all day.
  • If a child is not genetically destined to become Uncle Styopa, then he can eat much less than his peer, who has tall parents.
  • Psychological problems. If earlier you accidentally gave your child a bitter cucumber, then he may refuse any green food. Or you yell at the child during the meal, and for him the food is perceived as a trauma.

If your child is lively, but at the same time he has a "bad appetite", then this is not his problem, but yours - the psychological problem of an unsatisfied instinct. If a child jumps, jumps, he has healthy nails, hair, etc., think less about what he lacks. Better think about something nice))

An active child = not a hungry child.

Wait for the natural desire and correctly distribute energy costs - walk more often, send the child to the sports section, or simply say: “If you don’t want to, take a walk, dinner is not earlier than seven and no snacks.” That is, if your child simply does not want to eat, normalize feeding - strictly at a certain time and without snacks. The body will get used to secrete gastric juice strictly according to the schedule.

And one more thing. There are no rules about how much a child should eat. He can eat a kilo (and make you very happy) and 9Send 00 grams to the toilet. Or eat 100 g and learn everything.

But it is much more difficult if the child CANNOT eat.