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Feeding your baby

  • Breast milk is the best food for most babies in the first year of life.
  • Feed your baby only breast milk for the first 6 months of life.
  • At about 6 months, feed your baby solid food and breast milk.
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Keeping a breastfeeding log

If you’re breastfeeding, you may wonder if your baby is getting enough milk to grow strong and stay healthy. Use the March of Dimes breastfeeding log (.PDF, 70KB) to record when and how much you breastfeed. It’s a great way to keep track of how well your baby is feeding. 

Take your breastfeeding log to all of your baby’s checkups. At every checkup, your baby’s health care provider checks your baby’s growth and weight gain. If your baby is slow to gain weight, the breastfeeding log can help you and your baby’s provider spot and take care of many feeding problems. 

What information does a breastfeeding log track?

You can use your breastfeeding log to track these things:

Can you use a breastfeeding log if you’re pumping?

Yes. Just like breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to keep a record of when you pump. A breast pump helps you remove milk from your breasts. You can use the milk at a later time to feed your baby. Milk pumped from your breasts is called expressed milk.

If you’re going back to work or school, or if there are times you need to be away from your baby, you probably need to pump. Write down the date, time and how much breast milk you pump in your breastfeeding log. 

If your baby’s in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), you can use your breastfeeding log to keep track of how often and how much milk you express. If your baby was born prematurely or has a birth defect, by the end of the first week you want to make at least 16 ounces of milk every 24 hours.

Many moms struggle to make breast milk when their babies are sick. It may take a few days of pumping before you make much milk. If you’re having trouble making enough breast milk, don’t give up! Ask your health care provider or lactation consultant for help. A lactation consultant is a person with special training and education in helping women breastfeed. Share your breastfeeding log with your lactation consultant. She can use the information in your log to make sure you’re pumping often enough and making enough milk. 

Are there signs that your baby isn’t getting enough milk? 

Yes. Keeping a breastfeeding log may help you spot breastfeeding problems early on. If your baby doesn’t get enough breast milk, it can affect his health and your body’s ability to keep making milk. 

Call your baby’s health care provider if your baby:

  • Breastfeeds for very short or very long stretches of time. Most babies feed for 15 to 30 minutes at a time at one breast. It’s OK if your baby takes more or less time. But if she feeds for less than 10 minutes each time, she may not be getting enough milk. If she feeds for more than 50 minutes each time, she may not be sucking well, or you may not be making enough milk.
  • Is still hungry after breastfeeding. If your baby seems hungry or fussy after feedings, she may not be getting enough milk. 
  • Goes for hours without feeding. Most newborns are hungry about once every 2 to 3 hours. If your newborn sleeps more than 4 hours at night, wake her up and breastfeed.  
  • Isn’t gaining weight. It’s normal for a baby to lose a little weight after birth. Within the first 2 weeks of life, though, she should gain the weight back, plus a little more. If your baby’s not steadily gaining weight, she may not be getting enough milk.
  • Isn’t swallowing. It’s hard to tell when your baby swallows. Look and listen closely. She should swallow after a few suckles. A short break in her breathing can be a clue that she’s swallowing.
  • Is sweating or turns blue around the lips during breastfeeding. These can be signs of other health problems. Tell your provider about them right away.

Some moms have problems or discomforts when breastfeeding. These can affect how much milk you make for your baby. Learn what you can do to take care of common breastfeeding problems and discomforts. 

Last reviewed May 2014

On the menu

  • Newborn: Breast milk or formula
  • 4-6 months: Cereal mixed with baby's milk
  • 6 months: Pureed, cooked fruits and veggies
  • 8 months: Cooked veggies and fine cut meats
  • 9 months: Macaroni, crackers, pieces of fruit

Frequently Asked Questions

How much vitamin D should my baby get?

Vitamin D is important to help avoid a bone-weakening disease called rickets. All babies should receive 400 IU of vitamin D per day, starting in the first few days of life. This includes breastfed babies and babies who drink less than 1L of infant formula per day.

Our skin makes vitamin D when it gets sunlight. But too much sunlight can be harmful, too. In fact, babies 6 months and older and young kids should stay away from direct sunlight and wear sunscreen at all times when out in the sun. However, sunscreen stops the skin from making vitamin D. The best way to get enough vitamin D is by giving your baby liquid multivitamin drops with vitamin D. They can be found in many pharmacies, and you won't need a prescription for it. Just be sure you've filled the dropper to no more than 400 international units (IU).

How often should I nurse my baby?

All babies are different and have different feeding patterns. In general, breastfed newborns need to eat 8 to 12 times in 24 hours (about once every 2 to 3 hours), for about 30 minutes each time. Breast milk is easily digested so it may be difficult to time when you should nurse your baby.

Newborns may need to feed more frequently than older babies. They may need to be fed on demand. As your milk supply is established and the baby grows, the baby's feeding patterns may change and she may go longer between feedings. Remember, breastfeeding is a natural skill, but it’s also a learned skilled. Be patient and give yourself (and your baby) time to master this new ability.

What solids foods should I start my baby on?

Begin with a single-grain iron-fortified cereal such as rice, barley or oatmeal. Mix it with breast milk or infant formula. Start with a small amount once a day. It's hard to tell how much your baby will eat. At first, most of her food will probably end on her bib or face. Be patient and help your baby learn this new skill. It's important that meal time is a pleasant time. This will build the foundation of healthy eating habits. If your baby cries, shows no interest in feeding or turns her head away from the spoon, stop feeding her. She is trying to tell you that she's full or she doesn’t want anymore. You should never force her to eat more than what she wants.

When should I give my baby solid foods?

Breast milk is the best food for most babies. It's best to give only breast milk for the first 6 months of life. Some babies might be ready to start solid foods between 4 to 6 months of age. When your baby is between 4 to 6 months, she may begin to show signs that she's ready to try some solid foods alongside her breast milk or formula. Watch for her developmental cues (signs) and she'll let you know when she's ready. Some signs that show your baby might be ready to start solid foods are:

  • She can sit with support.
  • She shows a good head neck control when seated.
  • She shows a desire for food by opening her mouth, drooling and leaning forward.
  • She begins to chew and brings her hands to her mouth.
  • She begins to handle objects with the palm of her hand.
  • She swallows pureed food and the extrusion reflex starts to go away (tongue-thrust reflex).

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