Breastfeeding is one of the most important things you can do for your baby. But it’s also a challenge, especially in the beginning on knowing how much breast milk for newborns is needed.
It can be hard to tell whether or not your baby is getting enough breast milk. You might ask yourself questions like “is my baby eating enough?” “Am I producing enough milk?” and “How much should my newborn eat?”.
The truth is that breastfeeding isn’t always easy at first, but with proper support, education and encouragement from family members, friends and medical professionals you’ll get through it! That’s why we’ve created this article on how much breast milk for newborns is needed so that you have all the information you need about breastfeeding in one place. We hope this will help make feeding time easier for both of you!
How Much Breast Milk Does a Baby Need?
The amount of milk consumed by growing, exclusively breastfed infants varies from 478 to 1,356 mL per day. So, determining how much breast milk a newborn need isn’t as simple as it may sound. Every mother, each baby, and each breastfeeding journey is different, which is why there are no hard-and-fast instructions or sets of rules that apply to all. As long as your mother and infant are both content and healthy, you’re doing everything correct!
The First 24 Hours of Life
In the first 24 hours, your child will typically consume about a teaspoon of colostrum each feeding, which is perfect for his or her tiny stomach. On the first day of life, your baby’s stomach is only about the size of a cherry and holds just 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons (5-7 ml) of breast milk during each feed!
Babies lose weight naturally after being born, but your doctor and nurses will be monitoring your newborn to ensure their health.
24 Hours to 2 Weeks of Life
Feeding your baby often by breastfeeding or pumping causes your body to tell your breasts to produce more milk in preparation for when your baby is hungry.
By day 3, your newborn’s stomach will have expanded to the size of a walnut. Your infant’s stomach can now hold between 3/4- 1 ounce (22-27 ml) per feeding.
Feeding your newborn at least 8 – 10 times a day during the first week after birth is important to establishing a healthy and plentiful milk supply.
4 Weeks to 12 Months of Life
You milk supply will stay about the same from 4 months of life to 6 months, or about the time when you introduce solids as long as you keep you nursing or pumping routine the same.
Unless you’re pumping to stockpile, your supply may start to diminish gradually once your baby starts eating new foods around 6 months old.
For the first 6 months, babies will gain about 1 – 2 pounds per month. This will typically slow down to about 1 pound per month from roughly 6 – 12 months of age.
Newborn Stomach Size
How Your Baby’s Stomach Grows for the First Days and Weeks
Since their stomachs are so tiny, your little one will feed frequently but only drink a small quantity of breast milk during these initial nursing sessions. Their stomach grows and the amount of breast milk it contains increases on a daily basis. Soon, you baby will be able to hold more breast milk in each feeding.
Newborn need to eat very often to support their rapid growth so be sure to notice hunger cues from the beginning.
How Much Breast Milk Will My Baby Need if I Pump?
Between the ages of 1 month and 6 months, exclusively breastfed babies ingest an average of 25 oz (750 mL) per day. Because each breastfed baby drinks a unique quantity of milk, there is a range that babies will intake and can be between 19-30 oz per day (570-900 mL per day).
How to calculate for Exclusively Breastfed Babies
If your baby eat 8 times per day and you can assume they are eating around 25 ounces a day, then you divide 8 (the number of times they each each day) by 25. Which is 3.1 ounces per feeding. You can always start with they higher number (30 ounces) and go from there so you know that you have more then enough while you are away.
Other Ways to Calculate
Another way to calcuate how much expressed breast milk to put in a bottle is to convert your baby’s weight into ounces, then divide they weight by 6. Now divide that number by 8 and you will get the average to put in their bottle for a feeding.
What if My Baby is Eating Solids?
If you baby is over 6 months and has just started eating solid then you can keep the amount of milk the same since you start with such little amount of solids and slowly increase. But if you baby has been eating solids for a while now, for example, babies between 11-16 months eat about 19 ounces of breast milk per day.
Is My Baby Drinking too Much or too Little Milk?
Every feeding will vary for your baby on how much milk they will drink. Always watch for your baby’s cues on if they are full instead of trying to get them to finish a bottle.
If you are concerned that they are drinking too much expressed milk, they could be in a growth spurt.
There are other factors that take play in over feeding that include:
- A Fast-flow nipple. Faster flow nipples allow babies to drink a lot more then what they would get when breastfeeding. Try using a medium or slow-flow nipple to change the milk flow.
- Misunderstanding you baby’s needs for signs of hunger. Babies and a high need to suck so if it is not at the breast or their fist, the bottle could be giving them more then what they need since the primary need is to suck rather then feed at that time.
- Using the bottle for comfort. Some caregivers will give a baby a bottle for comfort rather then what they really need. It could be the need to be burped, or held, or even movement.
If you are concerned that they are not drinking enough milk, it could be that they are waiting for mom to get home to eat. This can take a lot of patience and some time. Try to feed your baby before you leave and be gone for shorter amounts of time until they are more comfortable eating with the caregiver while you are away.
If that doesn’t work, talk to your lactation consultant or doctor.
Storing Your Breast Milk
Since a newborn only drinks a small amount per feeding so it’s bests to store your expressed breast milk in smaller portions. This will prevent wasting your breast milk if they aren’t able to finish the bottle.
Freeze your breast milk in labeled breast milk storage bags at the back of your freezer and when you are ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge or on the counter in warm water depending on how soon you need it.
How Often Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
For the first month or so, newborn babies should breastfeed 8–12 times each day. Feeding often is needed to help stimulate breast milk production as well as give your baby fuel since they can only hold such a little amount at each feeding.
Your baby will most likely nurse 7–9 times a day by the time he or she is 1–2 months old.
It’s important to breastfeed “on demand” in the first month of life. This means to breastfeed whenever they are hungry, which can be anywhere from 1.5 – 3 hours. Once your baby is older and the breastfeeding relationship has been established, you can have more of a predictable schedule.
Newborns should not be left without a feeding session for more than 4 hours, even overnight.
How Do I Count the Time Between Feedings?
From the time your baby begins to nurse (rather than when they finish) to when he or she starts the next nursing session, is how you count the time in between feedings.
You can say “about every 2 hours” if your first feeding starts at 6 a.m. and the next feeding is around 8 a.m. You may feel like you’re nursing every hour of the night at first, which is typical. Your baby’s intervals between feedings will grow longer as they get older.
How Long Does a Nursing Session Take?
Every baby is different and it can vary at each feeding as well. Newborns may nurse on one or both breasts for up to 20 minutes or longer. Babies may take up to 10 minutes on each side as they get older and more skilled at nursing.
When Should I Switch to the Other Breasts?
Read your baby’s cues for when they are done on one side and then offer the other side. If your baby is sleepy of fussy, your can try to burp and switch to the other side then.
Some babies will only want to nurse on one side for each feeding session, while others will want to breastfeed on both sides. Always offer and read their cues.
How Often Should I Burp My Baby During Feedings?
Burp your baby after they feed on each side.
Some infants require more burping, while others require less. It can vary from feeding to feeding.
If your baby spits up a lot, consider burping him or her more frequently. While it is typical for newborns to “spit up” a little amount after eating or during burping, a baby should not vomit after feeding.
If your baby vomits the majority of a feeding, there could be a problem and may need medical attention. If you’re concerned that your infant is spitting up too frequently, contact your health care provider.
Why Is My Baby Hungrier Than Normal?
When babies go through growth spurts, and it causes them to want to eat more than usual. These can happen at any time. But in the first year of life, growth spurts often happen when a baby is:
- 1-2 Weeks old
- 2 Months old
- 4 Months old
- 6 Months old
How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
This is a very personal choice for you and your baby. The American Academy of Pedicatrics (AAP) recommends to exclusivley breastfeed for the first 6 months of life and conintue with the addition of solid foods for the first year or however long both desire.
What is cluster feeding?
Cluster feeding is when your baby feeds more than 2 – 3 hours. They typically eat many small meals in a short period of time. Lots of moms notice that this tends to happen in the evening. Cluster feeding is common when they are having a growth spurt and is very normal.
Formula-Feeding a Newborn – 4 Months
As with breastfeeding, formula-fed babies from birth to 4 months old varies as they get older.
- Formula-fed babies usually take 2 to 4 ounces of infant formula every 2 to 4 hours during the day and night during the first month.
- 4 to 6 ounces every 4 hours is the typical amount of formula- fed babies from 1 month old to 4 months old.
What if You Breastfeed and Formula Feed
There are no set rules for how often and how much a newborn should eat of each type of milk for mothers who mix breast milk and formula as long as you are feeding your baby every 3 hours.
If at all feasible, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. Even if you intend to supplement with formula later, nursing during that crucial period will help establish a healthy milk supply for the following months.
Signs Baby Is Eating Enough Milk
All babies lose some of their birth weight in the first few days of life. You are lloking for weight gains and back to birth weight within the first two weeks.
For the first week of life, the rule of thumb is that you will want to have the same amount of wet diapers and bowel movements for how old they are in a 24-hour period. So 1 wet diaper and 1 bowel movement on day 1 and so on.
Breastfeeding is the optimal choice for most mothers. This article covers some of the top questions women have about breastfeeding and how much breast milk for newborns is needed.
Be sure to read the 9 Best Breastfeeding Tips for Producing More Milk