Advice: Is this too little breastmilk to feed a baby?

A nanny is asking for your help.

We all know parenting can be scary in those first few months. You’re thrown in the deep end, expected to know everything about something you’ve never done before.

But one nanny of a first time mum is concerned that her 5 month old is not getting enough breastmilk.

The nanny’s friend posted the following plea for help on Reddit.

Hello parents!

My friend (we’ll call her Jill) is a nanny to a 5 month old, and is currently watching the child for 10 hours per day. The mum leaves 3-5 oz (88 – 147 mls) of breastmilk for her per day and does not supplement.

Jill has told the mother that the baby seems hungry but the mum just brushes it off and says that her breasts will produce as much as the baby needs to eat. Jill tapped into some of the frozen stores and was scolded by the mother and told those were only for emergencies….

Some other pertinent info – the mum feeds the baby twice in the morning before leaving for work. We are not sure about the evening.

I have a 6 month old and this seems nuts to me… my daughter has been eating at minimum 20 oz (591 mls) per day while I am at work for 2 months now.

That being said… I know each baby is different. I think this sounds nuts and dangerous for the baby, but maybe I’m wrong?

What are your thoughts parents? What should Jill do?

The Reddit user received a huge response from the community, some calling it negligence and child abuse. They urged the nanny to approach the mum.

The Reddit user updated the thread in the following days:

Thank you guys for your help. Glad to know that I am not off base on thinking that this issue is urgent and alarming. 

Jill pushed back and managed to get the mum to let her use some formula. She said the baby calmed down immediately after a almost 4 oz (118 mls) bottle and took a 3 hour nap, likely from exhaustion. She got on the mum’s case and the mum said she’d get some gripe water… Ugh.

The plan is to ask the mum in the morning again what to do if she runs out of food. She is then going to sit down with the mum that night and speak to her experience and concerns. I told her to be sure to say that she is in full support of Exclusive Breastfeeding but she’s not sure how to handle when the baby seems to want more food. The mum is relatively new to being back at work and seems to be in denial… It’s really upsetting. Thank you for all of your help – Jill said it was really helpful and gave her the confidence to push back and plan a conversation for tomorrow if things aren’t better.

We spoke to Alynis Howard, an Early Childhood Health nurse and Lactation Consultant, who said that while breastmilk doesn’t increase in volume as a baby grows, it does change in quality and make up to suit a growing baby’s needs. In other words, it’s not always about volume, so much as about quality. However Howard did say a 5-month-old baby weighing an average 7 kilograms, would need approximately 800 mls of breastmilk a day (if exclusively breastfed).

Of course, unless breastmilk is expressed (and measured) it’s hard to know how much your baby is getting.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association suggests using these indications to tell if baby is getting enough to eat:

The baby is breastfeeding well and frequently.

Has plenty of pale, wet nappies (at least 5 disposable or 6-8 cloth nappies in 24 hours).

Has 3 or more soft bowel motions a day (babies older than around 6 weeks may have less than this).

Baby is gaining weight and has some periods in which baby seems reasonably alert, active and happy.

As always, if you have any concerns about your baby, please contact your local doctor or the National Breastfeeding Helpline, 1800 686 268.

What advice would you give this nanny to approach the topic with the mum?

Want more? Try:

“Idiot parents, listen up, this is directed at you.”

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