It’s hard not to second guess yourself as a new parent. After all, deciphering your little one’s cries, knowing the signs that your baby is hungry or sleepy, and recognizing when you’re producing enough breastmilk is not always instinctive! For example, research shows that about 50% of nursing moms stop breastfeeding because they believe their milk supply is insufficient, but only 5% have a physical or medical problem that hinders breastmilk production. So, how do you really know if you’re making enough breastmilk? Here, signs you’re dealing with low milk supply.

How do I know if I am producing enough milk?

Worried that you’re not producing enough milk? You are not alone! Nearly all new parents worry about whether their newborns are getting enough milk, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here are some tell-tales signs your baby is getting enough breastmilk:

  • Your baby nurses frequently. New babies eat a lot! Well-fed breastfed babies age 0 to 5 months old nurse at least 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.

  • They’re steadily gaining weight. It’s normal for breastfed babies to lose 8 to 12 ounces over the first few days of life, but gain 4 to 7 ounces each week thereafter. (A well-fed baby will be back at their starting birth weight by day 10 to 14.)

  • They’re peeing several times a day. During the first days, infants don’t pee very often, but once your milk comes in, they wet five to seven diapers a day, and their urine is clear or light yellow. By the time your baby is 5 to 7 days old, they’ll produce six or seven wet diapers​ daily.

  • They’re also pooping several times a day! Babies should make one or two poops daily on day 1 and day 2—and produce at least two dirty diapers on days 3 and 4. By day 5 to 7, expect three to four poops a day. After that, for the first month of their life, your little one will often make a poop after each feeding.

  • Your breasts are heavy. Oftentimes, if you have enough breastmilk, your breasts will feel heavy when you wake up and they may occasionally leak.

  • You can hear or see your baby swallowing while nursing. When your bub starts to nurse, you’ll notice they start their session with a few rapid sucks, followed by long, rhythmic sucks and gulps peppered with periodic pauses. And their sweet cheeks will be rounded, not hollow, while suckling.

  • Your baby has calm hands and feet. Well-fed babies get blissful and chill after nursing, with relaxed hands and feet.

Does Baby crying mean I have low milk supply?

No! Many new parents think that crying is a sign their baby is not getting enough milk. In fact, infant crying and fussiness are the two most common reasons mothers believe they have low milk supply, even when there’s no evidence of that being true, according to research. (This is called perceived insufficient milk, or PIM.) The kicker? Since PIM can make a new parent feel anxious about their supply, they often supplement with formula, which can diminish their supply! If you think your baby crying means your supply is low, I suggest the following:

  • Learn about your baby’s hunger cues: Babies show many signs of hunger before they begin to cry, like rooting, bringing their hands to their mouth, smacking their lips, and clenching fingers. Watching for—and responding quickly to—your little one’s hunger cues can help prevent crying. (Did you know that once your baby is crying, it’s harder for them to latch and feed properly?!) Find out more about your baby’s first-year feeding schedule.

  • Understand “normal” crying: While it’s hard to hear, it’s the truth: Infants normally cry about 1 to 3 hours a day! They cry because they’re tired, lonely, sick, need a diaper change, hungry, overstimulated…the list goes on because, well, crying is how babies communicate! (Learn the signs your baby’s crying may signal a problem.)

  • Learn the 5 S’s: The magical combo of swaddling, shushing, swinging, sucking, and holding Baby in the side-stomach position (aka: the 5 S’s for soothing babies) is proven to help calm babies. That’s why hospitals, parenting clinics, child abuse prevention programs, military bases, and more teach the 5 S’s to new parents all over the globe! Once you understand how to calm your baby, you won’t knee-jerk to the assumption that Baby is hungry—and that your supply must be low if the crying persists.

What are the signs your milk supply is decreasing?

With bottle-fed babies, it’s simple to know how much they’re drinking: Just count the ounces your baby eats. But with breastfeeders, it’s trickier. Here are a few ways to help you find out if you have a low or decreasing milk supply:

  • Fussy After Feeding: If you notice your baby still exhibits fussiness after they’ve nursed, this could indicate that you’re not producing enough milk and have a low milk supply.

  • Infrequent Wet Diapers: If your baby is only producing a few wet diapers a day—and the color of their pee is dark yellow—consider it a red alert that your milk supply is low and call your pediatrician to check for a problem.

  • Slow Weight Gain: While babies usually lose up to 12 ounces in their first few days, they should be steadily gaining after that. If your breastfed baby is gaining weight more slowly than they should, consult your healthcare provider.

Another way to check if your breastmilk supply is low is to offer a 2-ounce bottle of pumped milk or formula to your little one after you’ve nursed. But to avoid nipple confusion, be sure to only do this after your baby has gotten the hang of nursing, usually between 3 and 4 weeks. If your baby gulps it down, you may be dealing with low milk supply.

What can reduce milk supply?

If you suspect your milk supply is decreasing, these are the most common culprits:

  • Short or Infrequent Nursing Sessions: Your body signals milk to flow each time your baby latches—and your body adjusts its milk supply levels based on how much your baby regularly consumes. That means, the less you express milk, the less you produce. (The more you feed on demand, the more milk you make!)

  • Giving Infant Formula: When you give your baby infant formula instead of breastfeeding—and don’t pump to make up the difference—your milk supply will dip.

  • Flawed Breastfeeding/Pumping Technique: Oftentimes, tweaking your breastfeeding position, making sure your baby is properly latched, and treating sore or cracked nipples can help improve milk flow. A lactation consultant is specially trained to help with all these matters.

  • Introducing Solids Too Early: When you offer your baby solid food before they’re 4 to 6 months old, your milk supply will likely diminish.

  • Health Issues: Some newborns are born with physical or developmental challenges, such as tongue tie, that may prevent them from latching and extracting milk from the breast. A breastfeeding parent’s health can also impact milk supply. For example, thyroid or hormonal issues, certain medication, smoking, and physical restraints can all hinder milk production and nursing.

  • Poor Sleep: Lack of sleep during the postpartum period can have an “unfavorable impact on lower milk volume,” according to a 2022 study in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. Part of the problem is that poor sleep can cause an uptick in certain hormones, like cortisol, that can dramatically dampen your milk supply. (Learn more about getting the ZZZs you need.)

How to Prevent Low Milk Supply

The best way to prevent low milk supply is to allow your baby to drink as much breastmilk as possible during feeding sessions. The more milk that is taken, the more your body will produce. Upping your breastfeeding frequency—or adding a pumping session immediately after breastfeeding—can help tell your body that it’s time to make more milk! For help with feeding and pumping, don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant who can fix issues before they become too far gone.

And even though you’re super focused on Baby right now, make sure you’re looking after yourself, too! Stay hydrated, make sure you’re getting enough good food to eat, and try your very best to prioritize your rest, too!

Finally, be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your milk supply with your healthcare provider  or an experienced lactation consultant and your child's pediatrician.


More on Breastfeeding:

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.