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How to Ensure Your Newborn Is Getting Enough to Eat

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How to Ensure Your Newborn Is Getting Enough to Eat

Mar 13, 2017

As a new parent, you probably have a lot of questions about your baby. Are you feeding too much? Are you feeding too little? How much weight gain is normal? The answers might be as simple as checking your newborn’s diaper. Dr. Kirsten Stoesser, family medicine physician at University of Utah Health, shares four simple things to watch for to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat.

Episode Transcript

Announcer: Health tips, medical views, research and more for a happier, healthier life from University of Utah Health Sciences, this The Scope.

Dr. Stoesser: Hi, my name is Kirsten Stoesser, and I am a family medicine physician at University of Utah Health Care. One of the common questions I get is, "How do you know if your newborn is getting enough to eat?" So there are a few ways to be able to assess if your baby is getting enough to eat. One is just does your baby seem relaxed and happy right after a feed? Does your baby seem content and going back to sleep or relaxing? Although babies can be irritable a lot, and cry a lot, and crying doesn't always mean that they're hungry.

So there are a few other things that you can look at as well. One is, how many wet diapers are they making? In the first day after they're born, they should make one wet diaper in 24 hours, and then you add one diaper a day for the next few days. So, by two days, they should have two wet diapers, by three days three wet diapers. And from the fourth day on, they should really be making about four to six wet diapers per day.

In addition to the number of wet diapers, you can also look and see what does the urine look like? If the color of the urine is pretty pale, that means that they're getting enough liquid. But if it's a dark yellow, or if it's even a pink-orangish color, that can mean that they are dehydrated and that they need to get more fluid in.

In addition to the number of wet diapers, looking at the stools, it can be really helpful. These also change in their character and number within the first few days, first few weeks. Initially right after a baby is born, the stool will be black and tarry, that's the meconium, and then it turns to a greenish and then a brownish color. And then, with breastfed babies, the stool then transitions to being a yellow, what we call a mustard-yellow color and, kind of, a seedy consistency or like a cottage seed consistency. In the first week to first month, they usually make about two to three stools a day with breastfed babies. And after one to two months, there can be a large variation. They can make one stool a day, or they might go a few days without having a stool, and that again can be normal.

And then the other thing to look at, to make sure that your baby is being fed well, is weight gain. And although that's a hard thing to do at home, when you bring your baby in for clinic visits at three to four days after they're born, and at their two-week, and their two-month visit, we will check their weight and then look at that on a graph to see how they are comparing to other babies of the same age, and are they within the normal weight. And a lot of times, parents worry that their baby is not feeding well, but when we can show that they're gaining weight normally and appropriately, that shows that they are getting enough nutrition.

Sometimes we will have parents come in more frequently if we do have a concern about the weight, so that we can check it a few days or a week later, just to make sure that a baby is gaining appropriately. And normally they should gain about an ounce a day, or about four to seven ounces per week within those first few weeks, first few months. Although most babies, they will lose some weight in their first few days. That's normal. By two weeks, certainly of age, they should be back to their birth weight.

Again, the things to look at are how many wet diapers are they making? What are their stools like? And are they gaining weight? And if you have any concerns, certainly calling into the clinic, or make in an appointment to come in. And we can always check your baby, and be more than happy to figure out what's going on, and how we can help.

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