Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as “an infant’s consumption of human milk with no supplementation of any type (no water, no juice, no nonhuman milk and no foods) except for vitamins, minerals and medications.” Exclusive breastfeeding has reduced infant deaths in developing countries by reducing diarrhea and infectious diseases. It also reduced HIV transmission from mother to child, compared to mixed feeding.
Measuring how many calories a breastfed baby consumes is complex, although babies normally attempt to meet their own requirements. Babies that fail to eat enough may exhibit symptoms of failure to thrive.
La Leche League says that mothers’ most often asked question is, “How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk?” They advise that for the first few days, while the baby is receiving mostly colostrum, one or two wet diapers per day is normal. Once the mother starts producing milk, usually on the third or fourth day, the baby should have 6-8 wet cloth diapers (5-6 wet disposable diapers) per day. In addition, most young babies have at least two to five bowel movements every 24 hours for the first several months.
La Leache League offers the following additional signs that indicate a baby is receiving enough milk:
- Averages at least 8-12 feedings per 24-hour period.
- Determines the duration of feeding, which may be 10 to 20 minutes per breast or longer.
- Swallowing sounds are audible.
- Gains at least 4-7 ounces per week after the fourth day.
- Is alert and active, appears healthy, has good color, firm skin and is growing in length and head circumference
Learn now about Mixed feeding and Expressed milk