How much milk
does my baby need during the day?
The only person who really knows how much
milk your baby needs - is your baby. Problem is, she's not
talking. So you need to set things up so that she can
communicate how much she needs. The best way to do this is to
send milk in a number of small bottles. For the first few days,
2 oz bottles are fine. If your baby drinks them very quickly and
always takes another one, then you can gradually increase the
amount in the bottles. Ask your care provider to keep careful
records of all of her feeding times and amounts for the first
few days so that you can adjust the size of the bottles you're
Avoid overfeeding: Your baby can
only tell you how much she needs if she's not being stuffed to
the gills. Be sure you are using only newborn flow nipples, and
make sure her care provider is never encouraging her to finish
bottles. Always let the baby end the feeding. More information
on bottle-feeding the breastfed baby can be found in the
Supply Boosting section
of this website, and at
kellymom.com. Remember that if you allow your baby unlimited
access to the breast when you're together, he or she will almost
always get enough to eat.
In an 8-9 hour day at childcare, most
breastfed babies will take between 8 and 15 oz of milk. I know,
that's a huge range! But really, only you and your baby can
figure it out. The best guideline is to pump once for each
missed feeding, see how much milk you get, and then send that
baby need more as he gets older?
If your baby is in a group child care
setting, you will probably notice that the bottles of formula
for his little friends seem to be growing. This can strike fear
into the heart of the most confident pumping mom. The seeds of
doubt are sown - am I starving my child? The answer,
happily, is no. You are not starving your baby. The happy truth
is that breastmilk 1) changes in composition as your baby ages
to perfectly meet his needs and 2) is much more efficiently
digested than formula, so not as much is needed.
In a study published in 1999 (Kent et
al., 1999) it was found that the amount of breastmilk taken in
by babies fed on demand exclusively at the breast did not change
much between the ages of 1 month and 6 months (after which it
decreases with the addition of complementary foods). So it's OK
if the bottles your sending stay the same size, month after
month. If your baby does seem to be taking in more and more -
think about what's happening the rest of the day - is he
sleeping more at night? Is he feeding less frequently in the
evenings? Then he's probably making up for it by eating more
during the alert times when he's at childcare.
In short - don't worry. If your baby is
happy, don't worry about what the other kids are getting in
If your care provider is careful not to
overfeed, but tells you that your baby needs more than you're
pumping, then check the Supply Boosting
page for more tips.
Kent et al. 1999 Breast Volume and milk
production during extended lactation in women. Experimental
Physiology 84: 435-447.
Ever wonder how they found this out? These and other similar
results have been found by weighing the baby before and after
Every. Single. Feed. for a whole day. Can you imagine?? Kudos to
the moms who agreed to participate in this study! no, they
didn't do it every day - just at representative time-points...