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My baby takes more milk in a bottle does that mean I'm not making enough breastmilk?

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Here's a common scenario. A mom breastfeeds but finds her baby still fussing so she believes her baby is still hungry. She just fed him and she is worried that she is starving her baby so she tests that theory by preparing a bottle and giving it to the baby. Baby drinks the entire bottle or most of it and baby falls asleep. She is now convinced that: One she's not making enough milk to feed her baby and Two she needs to supplement with a bottle after every feeding especially if the baby is fussy after nursing.





I have seen many moms go the route of giving their baby extra milk in a bottle because they’re afraid the baby isn’t getting enough milk.

Bottlefeeding, whether there is breastmilk or formula, can have its own challenges to navigate through particularly in the early newborn stages when you and your baby are learning to breastfeed. It’s a tricky game to play with your milk supply and with your baby’s ability to learn to breastfeed! Let’s tackle the reasons why babies need to breastfeed.



Why breastfed babies eat so often?

They either need comfort or feel alone ( if you put your baby down a lot they tend to want and cry for this need even more), they’re hungry, or they're thirsty. Breastfeeding can tackle all of those things all at once. Helping with hunger, thirst, and comfort. A baby may feel more thirsty or hungry if it’s warm outside, or as they grow and develop. This is normal and you have the ability to provide for them in this way simply by nursing. So I see many women who can’t understand why their babies want to eat again if they “ just ate” or are nursing “ all the time”. Breastfeeding babies need to eat a lot and many times more often than just every 2-3 hours. They can eat as often as every hour and how often they feed in one day can vary.





Are they actually hungry?

So why do they take the bottle if they just nursed at the breast? Firstly determine if they are actually still hungry. Are they still putting their hands in their mouth or do they just seem uncomfortable? Make sure they are well supported in the shoulder, back, and hips.Try offering the breast again. Is there a lot of noise happening, are they wet and uncomfotable? If your baby is still fussy they may be too hot or cold or even overstimulated. Try going to a quiet dark room, do skin to skin, and offer the breast again. Now here's where bottle-feeding can be misleading. If you are feeding them a bottle right after nursing sometimes they can’t really control the flow of the milk in a bottle like they can with breastfeeding. They don’t want to choke on the milk so they drink to avoid this. I will see milk spilling out of babies' mouths as they try to keep up with the flow of the bottle mom uses. If this continuously happens and this can sometimes lead to overfeeding your baby this can cause the stomach to stretch to accommodate the large feedings they are receiving. Doing this over several days will cause your baby to eat more milk than your breast is providing and then you have a real milk supply issue. Bottle-feeding can also make your baby miss their own fullness cues, which can cause long-term eating problems as they grow up eating more than they may need and associate the feeling of being overfull as the point where they need to stop eating.




How to determine whether your baby is getting enough milk


You will know that your baby is getting enough if:

  • Your baby is having the appropriate amount of poopy diapers ( THIS IS KEY)

  • They are gaining weight steadily

  • Their hands relax after a feeding

  • They have a nice wet mouth (dry mouth is a sign of dehydration)




How to prevent overfeeding.

If you have concerns about your milk supply ALWAYS seek the advice of a lactation professional to be assessed on whether or not it truly is a milk supply issue. Only supplement with a bottle after an assessment with a lactation professional and it had been determined there is a milk supply issue. If start supplementing too early you can actually cause a milk supply problem when there wasn’t one before and the baby could start to prefer using a bottle over nursing. Secondly PACED BOTTLE FEED your babysitting upright and allowing them to take in the bottle and control the pace

Always offer both breasts and if the baby still seems hungry after drinking from both breasts burp and then offer the first breast again.


We want babies to feed but we also want to avoid overfeeding. The best thing you can do if you are concerned is to see a lactation counselor. Some lactation professionals can even come to your home and you can text them. Prevention is key. Taking a breastfeeding class can help you understand how to read your baby's fullness cues, how to help a fussy baby, and how to have a good milk supply. So do this prior to pregnancy and find a lactation professional before you have a baby and see them around the time your baby is 3 days old. You're also more likely to miss the baby's hunger and fullness cues if you are suffering from perinatal mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, or tough labor & delivery. So remember to rest and take care of yourself during your fourth trimester.




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