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How Much Breast Milk Should a Newborn Drink?

How Much Breastmilk Should a Newborn Drink

During the first week, full-term babies typically consume 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60ml) per feeding. However, by 4 to 5 weeks, their feeding volume increases. 

Before I go into specifics, here’s a quick overview of how much breast milk a newborn should drink:

  • Newborns feed 8 to 12 times daily — each session lasting approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Breast milk and formula combination influence feeding amounts.
  • Pumping signals your body to produce milk.
  • Allow your baby to nurse on demand by responding to their hunger cues.
  • Look out for some signs that your baby may be underfed or overfed.

Breastfeeding has many benefits, so to ensure you and your child experience it, I’ll talk about how much breast milk your newborn should be drinking in the first place.

How Much Breast Milk Should a Newborn Drink?

How Much Breastmilk Should My Newborn Drink

Newborns typically feed 8 to 12 times daily, each session lasting around 20 to 30 minutes. 

You can start by offering 10 minutes on each breast and observe your baby for hunger or fullness cues. If they show signs of hunger, you can offer another 10 minutes. 

Watch for strong latching, vigorous sucking, and frequent swallowing since these are signs that they’re getting enough milk. 

Also, don’t worry if your baby ends up with wet and soiled diapers since that’s a good sign they’re satisfied. 

Your breast milk’s color can change depending on various factors. So, check a breast milk color chart to know why your milk is that way.

For instance, for the first few postpartum days, you might notice a deep lemon-colored liquid that doesn’t look like the breast milk you know. This is called colostrum, which has more minerals and protein.

How Much Should My Baby Drink if I’m Combination Feeding?

Combination feeding is when you feed your baby both breast milk and formula milk.

Combination-fed newborns may consume around 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 milliliters) per feeding in the first few days. 

Their feeding volumes can increase as they grow, similar to breastfed babies. By the end of the first month, some may take 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 milliliters) or more.

Of course, to accurately know how much breast milk your baby drinks, use a breast pump and measure it. 

You can store extra milk in breast milk storage bags or bottles.

In breastfeeding, you can estimate how much your baby gets by weighing them before and after a feeding. However, this is less accurate than measuring the pumped milk directly.

How Much Breast Milk Should an Older Baby Drink?

In a breastfeeding guideline set by Healthy Children, your baby will typically consume 6 to 8 ounces (180 to 240 mL) at six months. That’s about 4 or 5 feedings within 24 hours. 

During growth spurts, your baby’s appetite will increase. If so, simply continue feeding on demand and adjust the number of feedings accordingly.

You can feed an older baby as much and as often as they want — and if they’re still hungry, offer them more.

However, you should also help regulate their food intake so they don’t become overweight at a young age.

How Much Breast Milk Should I Be Pumping?

How Much Breastmilk Should I Be Pumping

Try pumping 8-10 times within 24 hours. Full milk production for most mothers typically ranges from 25 to 35 oz per 24 hours. 

Once you reach this level, stick to a consistent pumping schedule to sustain the production of about 25 to 35 oz of breast milk per day.

You’ll likely need to pump more frequently when returning to work than when staying home with your baby. 

For those with a low milk supply, pumping more frequently may also be necessary. Another option is to buy breast milk.

Of course, you’ll pump less breast milk if you’re transitioning to formula milk.

How Do I Know My Baby Is Hungry?

How Do I Know My Baby Is Hungry

Crying is often a sign of hunger. But babies often use several hunger cues to let their parents know they want to eat. 

Here are some of the signs that your baby is hungry:

  • Rooting around for food
  • Making sucking motions with their mouth
  • Sticking their tongue out
  • Making grabby hands at your breast or bottle
  • Opening their mouth wide

Of course, there will be times when your baby is hungry but doesn’t show any of these signs. This is especially common in newborns. As such, you should also be aware of newborn hunger cues.

If you’re unsure if your baby is hungry, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and offer your breast or bottle them.

How Do I Know If My Baby Is Underfed?

One clear indicator of a baby being underfed is slow weight gain

It’s normal for babies to have thin arms and legs. However, if their limbs remain skinny as they grow, it may suggest inadequate feeding.

Another common indication is a lack of energy, where the baby appears more lethargic and less active or playful. They may also tire easily, demonstrating lower stamina. 

Another sign to watch for is frequent feedings. Underfed babies often require more frequent feeding sessions than their counterparts. 

Despite these frequent feedings, they may still appear unsatisfied after a session. This indicates that their nutritional needs have not yet been adequately met.

Additionally, underfed babies may experience dehydration due to insufficient fluid intake. 

Parents should be vigilant for symptoms of dehydration — such as dry skin, sunken eyes, and reduced production of tears.

You should also know what to feed your baby if there’s no formula or breast milk at home.

How Do I Know If My Baby Is Overfed?

You might want to give your baby as much milk as they want. However, this can also lead to overfeeding.

Frequent spitting up or reflux can indicate overfeeding since too much milk can overwhelm the baby’s stomach and lead to milk regurgitation. 

Another sign is excessive weight gain, where the baby rapidly gains weight beyond the expected growth rate. 

Irritability or fussiness may also indicate overfeeding. This is because a baby’s distended stomach can cause discomfort and restlessness. 

Your baby might have difficulty settling or sleeping after feeding. They may also have consistent demands to feed again shortly after a feeding. 

Overfeeding can cause bloating, gas, and colic-like symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve compiled some FAQs that can further help you gauge how much breast milk your baby should drink:

How Often Should I Feed My Baby?

Exclusively breastfed babies typically feed every 2 to 4 hours

Some babies may have frequent cluster feeding periods, while others may have longer sleep intervals of 4 to 5 hours. 

The frequency of feedings can vary throughout the day, but here’s a quick guide:

  • Newborns need to be fed every 2-3 hours, day and night, due to their small stomachs.
  • Breastfed babies are usually nursed more often than formula-fed babies. Breast milk is easier to digest and offers more efficient nutrient absorption.
  • Formula-fed babies have longer feeding sessions but eat less frequently than breastfed babies. The formula is more difficult to digest, and babies can’t absorb as many nutrients. 

Should I Wake My Newborn Up at Night for Feeding?

In the early weeks, frequent feeding is crucial, even during sleep. This is because newborns’ stomachs are very small, so they must eat often to get enough nutrients. 

Wake your baby every 2-3 hours for feeding, even if they don’t appear hungry. Have a good nursing pillow to keep your baby comfortable. 

After the first few weeks, most babies will start to sleep for longer stretches at night. 

If your baby is gaining weight well and seems healthy, you can let them sleep for longer periods without waking them up to feed. 

However, some babies may still need to be woken up for night feedings, especially for breastfeeding.

Should I Store Breast Milk?

Yes, you can store breast milk. 

It’s a good idea to store breast milk if you’ll be away from your baby or produce more milk than your baby can eat.

To ensure proper breast milk storage, avoid using unsuitable plastic bags and exposing them to sunlight or heat. Be careful not to stir or shake them before feeding to prevent frothiness. 

Mixing breast milk from different days is allowed, but there are guidelines you’ll need to follow as well.

On top of that, how you store breast milk can affect how long it’s good for.

NOTE: Avoid refreezing thawed breast milk. Once the milk is thawed, it should be used within 24 hours.

Why Do Formula-Fed Babies Drink More Than Breastfed Babies?

There can be a few reasons why formula-fed babies may drink more than breastfed babies.

For one, formula milk is less concentrated, requiring larger quantities to provide the same nutrients as breast milk. 

Notice how doctors recommend breastfeeding more than formula? This is because formula-fed babies need more formula to get the same calories and nutrients as breastfed babies.

The proteins in the formula are harder to digest, leading to more frequent feelings of hunger. 

Lastly, breastfed babies can control how much milk they get by sucking harder or softer. Formula-fed babies, on the other hand, are given a certain amount of formula at each feeding.

This may be the reason for not being able to tell when formula-fed babies are really full.

How Do I Establish a Breastfeeding Routine With My Newborn?

When you breastfeed regularly, your body will produce the right amount of milk for your baby’s needs. This ensures that your baby is getting enough milk.

Here are some additional tips for establishing a breastfeeding routine:

  • Find a comfortable place to breastfeed. This could be in a rocking chair, couch, or bed. 
  • Make sure you are in a relaxed position and that your baby is well-supported.
  • Create a calming environment. Dim the lights, turn on soft music, and close the curtains. 
  • Get help if you need it.

Embrace nursing in public and use a nursing cover when your baby wants to feed when you’re outside.

Conclusion

You should listen to your baby’s needs. After all, while there are general guides to how much breast milk a newborn should drink, this still varies per baby.

The important thing is to provide them with the necessary nourishment in the right amounts. 

Rest assured that you’ll be learning how to breastfeed in no time as you learn your baby’s hunger and fullness cues.

If any worries come along your breastfeeding journey, don’t hesitate to ask for support. Doctors, lactation consultants, and experienced moms will surely help.

Nayna Llenos
Nayna Llenos

Hi, I’m Nayna!
I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I’m lucky and blessed to have two wonderful children to care for and love.
Despite this blessing, there are times wherein I do wonder if I truly am the mother my children need. Am I giving them the right food, care, and discipline to them?
But that is the beauty of parenting — you grow along with your children as they flourish to be their wonderful selves!
I wish to share my experiences with motherhood and how these tips can help you in your parenting journey.
I hope my advices and experiences will prove useful to you and that you have a smooth and wonderful journey as a mother!