When your little one can’t talk, it can be tricky to tell if they’re feeding enough. The best guide to check that your baby is getting enough milk is through monitoring their weight gain and the number of dirty and wet nappies.

In the first two days your baby should have two or three wet nappies a day, however after day five this should increase to at least six. Wet nappies should be soaked through with clear or pale yellow urine showing they are hydrated and feeding appropriately. For details about baby growth and stools have a look at the sections below.

Other hints to show your baby is feeding well include:

  • Breastfeeding every two to three hours, at least eight times a day (24 hours)
  • Breastfeeding for five or more minutes. Usually no longer than 40 minutes – but let your baby decide how long a feed lasts, not the clock
  • When feeding, you can hear the rhythmic sound of your baby swallowing ‘suck-pause-suck’
  • After a feed your baby appears settled and no longer hungry – common hunger cues include sucking fists, wriggling around and moving their head and mouth around

Steady weight gain is a good way to assess the health of your baby and reassure you they are feeding and growing well. Your health visitor will closely monitor your baby’s weight, particularly in the first two weeks of life. After this your baby will be weighed, on average, once a month until they are six months old; once every two months between six and twelve months; and then only a few times a year over the age of one.

During the first few days of life babies may lose weight, rather than gain it. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about; they should soon regain this weight. After these initial few days your baby’s weight gain should be steadily increasing, quickly in the first nine months before slowing down as they approach toddlerhood.

When your baby is measured and weighed by your health visitor, they will record your baby’s weight and length and plot this on growth charts showing the average growth of a healthy baby, which is different for boys and girls. They will then record this in their personal child health record (PCHP), also referred to as their ‘red book’.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember that all babies are different and will grow at different rates. As long as they are within the healthy limits, there is nothing to worry about so try not to compare their growth to others their age.

For more information on the different health and development reviews your baby will go through in the first few years, visit the NHS choices website.

By now you may feel like you’ve seen enough nappies to last a lifetime. And although it may not be the nicest topic you’ll now find you spend a lot of time thinking, looking and talking about your baby’s poo!

To help you understand more about your baby’s bowel movements and what to expect we’ve covered the basics in this section.

What’s normal?

Babies’ bowel movements vary. Some babies fill their nappies at or around every feed, but others may do so several times a day to once every few days (particularly breastfed babies). Babies may cry or strain when passing stool, but as long as their stools are soft, they are unlikely to be constipated.

Each baby and each stool will be different – but after a while you will start to become familiar with your baby’s toilet habits. That said, babies stools can vary day to day depending on their diet. Have a look through our Baby poo guide to understand the ins and outs of your baby’s nappy and whether there is cause for concern.

If you notice a sudden change or something particularly out of the ordinary for your baby, discuss this with your health visitor or GP.

Diarrhoea

Occasional runny stools are normal, and breastfed babies will often have softer stools than formula fed babies. However, if there is a change in your baby’s stools and they become frequent and loose or watery they may have diarrhoea. There are a number of different causes of diarrhoea, including cow’s milk allergy or lactose intolerance; however a bowel infection (gastroenteritis) is more commonly the cause.

If your baby has diarrhoea, it is important that they do not become dehydrated. A dehydrated baby may become lethargic or irritable and will have less wet nappies than usual due to reduced urine output. If your baby has diarrhoea there are a few steps you should take to prevent dehydration, relieve symptoms and prevent the spread of infection:

  • Continue with your baby’s usual feeds, whether it’s formula or breast milk, your baby should still be having their usual volume of feed
  • Be sure to give your baby extra fluids, in addition to their usual breast milk or formula
  • Make sure everyone in your family and around your baby washes their hands regularly to avoid spreading the infection
  • Don’t share towels, flannels, cutlery or other utensils as this can spread the infection
  • Don’t take your baby swimming in a swimming pool for two weeks after the last episode of diarrhoea
  • Don’t take your baby to childcare or nursery for at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea, to prevent your baby passing the infection on to other children
  • Avoid large quantities of fruit and fruit juice
  • Reduce their dietary fibre intake while they have diarrhoea

If your baby’s diarrhoea is persistent, it could be a sign of food sensitivity in your baby – find out more in the Allergy vs. Intolerance section below.

If you think your baby shows signs of dehydration, or you have any concerns about your baby’s health, please contact your health visitor or GP.

Posseting

Posseting is when your baby brings up a small amount of milk, about a teaspoons worth, during or shortly after a feed. It is completely normal in the first year of life and usually stops after 14 months. Posseting is due to a baby’s underdeveloped oesophagus – the ring of muscle that prevents what’s just entered our stomach, coming back up the oesophagus. This ring of muscle isn’t fully developed or closed until around 12 – 14 months.

Although completely safe, it can still be worrying for new parents, so the tips below should help decrease your baby’s posseting:

  • Burp your baby regularly throughout a feed
  • Don’t force your baby to drink more milk than they want
  • If you are bottle feeding check the flow rate of the teat is not too quick. Feeding too quickly can cause posseting
  • Keep your baby upright for a while after feeding, to help the milk settle in their stomach
Reflux

If your baby is posseting more than normal, this might be a sign they have reflux. Reflux is common in babies under 1 year of age and will usually resolve with age. However if you think your baby might have reflux discuss this with your health visitor or GP.

Vomiting

Vomiting is different to posseting and can be caused by many different things. It is most commonly caused by an infection (gastroenteritis), but could also be a sign of food allergy, such as cow’s milk allergy.

Talk to your health visitor or GP if your baby is vomiting repeatedly or they are showing signs of dehydration. Similarly, if posseting happens often or at an older age and you suspect your baby could have reflux, contact your health visitor or GP.

Food sensitivities, or more specifically ‘hypersensitivities’, are terms used to describe food allergies and food intolerances. Although food allergies and food intolerances can present similar symptoms, they are actually very different.

A food allergy (e.g. cow’s milk allergy) happens when the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to specific food, treating it as a threat invading the body. Their reactions vary in severity, ranging from mild discomfort to serious reactions, and symptoms can present themselves anywhere from immediately after the food is eaten to hours after.

Some common symptoms of food allergies are:

  • Raised, itchy red rash (“hives”)
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, tongue or around the eyes
  • Vomiting

A food intolerance (e.g. lactose intolerance) is an unpleasant reaction to food that, unlike an allergy, does not involve the immune system and instead may be caused by difficulty digesting specific foods. The symptoms are usually less severe than an allergy, with slower onset and only present if you eat a reasonable amount of the food.

Some common symptoms of food intolerance are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Tummy pain
  • Wind
  • Skin rashes or itching

If you think your baby could have a food sensitivity discuss this with your doctor. There are specialist infant formulas available, designed for babies with cow’s milk allergy, which could help. To find out more, visit abbottnutrition.co.uk

If you have any concerns about feeding your baby, or your baby’s health, please contact your health visitor or GP.

Related Pages

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