If you’re going back and fourth between breastfeeding and bottle feeding or if you’re exclusively pumping, you may wonder how much breast milk your baby should be eating.
The first time I needed to give my baby a bottle I was totally clueless as to what she should be consuming, and I hear from mamas all the time that this is something most moms wonder about too.
How much breastmilk do babies eat when they are first born?
When babies are first born their stomachs are teeny tiny! Each day their stomach will continue to grow and they will continue to require more and more breastmilk.
To give you an idea of just how small your newborn’s stomach is, here’s how much you can expect them to eat in the first week:
Day 1: Baby’s stomach is only the size of a cherry! They will eat frequently, but only consume between 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of colostrum at each feeding.
Day 3: By day three, your baby’s little tummy has already expanded to the size of a walnut and they will likely consume in the neighborhood of 3/4 an ounce to a full ounce at each feeding. By day three, it’s likely that colostrum has been replaced by breast milk.
Week 1: By now, your baby’s stomach has expanded to the size of an apricot and they are likely consuming around 1.5 – 2 ounces of breastmilk at each feed.
During the first few days and weeks of baby’s life they’ll be eating around the clock– and you can expect them to want to feed between 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period.
How many ounces of breastmilk does a one month old eat?
By the end of your baby’s first four weeks of life, their stomach has grown dramatically–to about the size of an egg– and they are now able to consume 2.5 to 5 ounces of breastmilk per day, for a total average of around 25 ounces per day.
How many ounces of breastmilk does a two month old eat?
Surprisingly, between months one through six breastfed babies eat at average of 25 ounces a day. Some babies will eat more than that and some will eat less– the range tends to be between 19 and 30 ounces of breastmilk per day.
Related reading: Breastfeeding supplements to increase your milk supply
How many ounces of breast milk does a baby eat? — a helpful chart
|Age||Number of feedings||Average amount(in oz)|
|2 months||7-9||2-4 oz|
|3 months||7-9||3-4 oz|
|4 months||5-8||4-5 oz|
|5 months||5-8||4-5 oz|
|6 months||4-6||4-6 oz|
Be advised that these figures will be different from the recommended amounts of formula babies take in. Because the amount of ounces babies take in per day and per feed differs when they are being formula fed versus breastfed, you should only go off of these guidelines, and not formula fed guidelines.
How to calculate how much breast milk baby needs
To get the most accurate amount of ounces of breastmilk your baby should consume, here’s a sample calculation you can follow:
First, convert you baby’s weight to ounces (16 ounces to a pound).
Then, divide that number by 6. This number will be the total number of ounces baby should get in a 24 hour period.
To determine the amount of ounces per feeding, take the the number of ounces per 24 hours and divide that number by 8.
For example: Say baby weighs 10 pounds. To figure out how many ounces they should eat per day, take 10 pounds and convert it to ounces, which is 160 ounces.
Now, divide that number by 6 to get the amount of ounces per 24 hours. In this example it comes out to about 27 ounces. To get the amount of ounces per feeding, we’ll take 160 and divide it by 8, which is 3.4 ounces per feed.
Keep in mind, all babies are different and whenever breastfeeding or exclusively pumping, you should always feed baby on demand. Sometimes they might take in more at a feeding, while other times they will take less or go slightly longer in between feedings. Use these figures as approximate numbers and let your baby be your ultimate guide.
Do babies need as much breastmilk as formula?
If you are supplementing with formula, you may wonder if you should just give baby the same amount of formula as you do breast milk. Surprisingly, babies tend to take in more formula than they do breast milk.
Here’s a simple calculation to help you gauge how much formula your baby will likely consume in a 24 hour period:
Take baby’s weight and multiply it by 2 and 2.5 to get a range of what they can be expect to consume in a day. For example, a 15 pound baby will consume between 30 and 30.7 ounces of formula per day.
Interestingly enough, formula fed babies will continue to increase their intake of formula as they increase in size, while breastfed babies tend to eat an average of 25 ounces per day between ages 1 month to 6 months.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk?
In the days, weeks and months following baby’s birth your pediatrician will closely monitor baby’s weight. It’s really common for babies to loose weight during the first few days of their life, but most babies will be back at their birthweight by the time they turn two weeks old.
Besides weight checks your pediatrician will monitor, you can rest assured baby is getting enough breast milk by counting the number of wet diapers baby has in a 24 hour period.
In their first six weeks of life, baby should have at least 6 very wet diapers and at least 3 to 4 dirty diapers in a 24 hour period.
After six weeks of life, you’ll look for 4-5 wet diapers per day. At this point in your baby’s development, you can expect their bowel movements to range quite dramatically— it’s normal for baby to have several bowel movements per day or one every 7-10 days.
Does baby get more milk nursing than a pump?
Your baby will always, always, always be able to pull more milk from your breast than the most efficient pump on the market. Don’t assume that just because you can only pump 2 ounces that your baby is only consuming 2 ounces per feed; in fact, it’s highly likely that they are consuming much more than that.
Related reading: How much should I be pumping?
Concluding thoughts on how much milk do breastfed babies consume
Use these calculations as guidelines when determining how much breast milk your baby will consume. Remember, some babies will take in more than others or less than others during each feed.
Be aware that your baby may suddenly want to nurse more frequently than they typically do, and this is called cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is completely normal and happens when baby is going through a growth spurt. During times of cluster feeds, take what’s “normal” and throw it out the window during this time.