Q: How do I know my baby is done nursing?
A: Good question! How do you know when you’ve had enough to eat? You may push the plate back from the table, get up and walk away. Or you may hang around and enjoy the company, but not eat anything else, or perhaps just nibble every now and then.
Obviously your baby can’t get up at the end of the meal, but he can let you know his tummy is full. Here are some signs to look for:
- He comes off the breast with that marvelous “drunken sailor” look. Milk may run out of his mouth, and he generally looks pleased with himself.
- His body is relaxed. Typically, at the beginning of the feeding, his hands may be clenched in tight fists and he is totally absorbed in the business at hand. As his tummy fills, he relaxes his fists and the rest of his body.
He may still want to hang out at the breast and occasionally suck some more. “Hanging out” at the breast serves a useful purpose, too!
You can also tell he’s getting plenty by looking at what comes out the other end. He should be soaking six to eight diapers every 24 hours, and having two to five bowel movements or more a day. The wet diapers are an indication he’s getting enough fluid, and the bowel movements indicate he’s getting enough calories. He should also be growing in all directions – weight, length, head circumference.
He should be relatively content between feedings. Oddly enough, this one comes fairly low on the list – not because it isn’t important, but because the baby who is not getting enough to eat may be so lethargic that he is mistaken for a content “easy” baby who sleeps a lot.
By Melissa Clark Vickers
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Moms & Babies Huntingdon, Tenn.