How Much Milk Should Babies Drink?

How Much Milk Should Babies Drink?

Whether you’re a new mom or not, knowing how much to feed your newborn baby can sometimes be quite difficult to determine. There are many questions on a mom’s mind at this time: should I breastfeed or use formula? How often do I need to feed my baby? Can I overfeed and how will I know if they have had enough? At what age do I start with solids? And, perhaps most important of all, how much milk or formula should my baby drink?

The exact answer can vary somewhat from day to day and can even depend on your baby’s appetite, so it’s important to keep flexible and keep an eye on how much they drink on a daily basis. But the basic answer is fairly straightforward.

How Much Should My Baby Drink?

Here’s a quick guide to the how much your baby should drink each day:

Age Amount per Feeding Feeding Frequency
Newborn 45-90 ml (1.5-3 oz) Every 2-3 hours
1 Month 120 ml (4 oz) Every 3-4 hours
2 Months 120-150 ml (4-5 oz) Every 3-4 hours
4 Months 120-180 ml (4-6 oz) Every 3-4 hours
6 Months 180-230 ml (6-8 oz) Every 4-5 hours

Although this guide works well for most babies, always consult your pediatrician or nurse if you have any concerns that your little one isn’t eating enough.

Past six months, feeding can be gradually reduced as solid foods are introduced.

There’s a lot more to it than this quick guide, though, so read on for the details about every stage in the first six months as well as some tips and tricks for optimal feeding.

Day 1 – The Initiation Stage

The first 24 hours can be a lot to take in. It’s a busy time with a lot of things to think about other than feeding. However, it is important to determine a schedule as soon as possible to kick start a healthy feeding routine.

This can also be a great time to make sure that you’re fully stocked up on everything you’ll need for the first six months of your baby’s life, so be sure to look around for high-quality breast pumps, bottles and sterilizers to serve you well throughout this important time.

If you are considering breastfeeding, it is often recommended to feed within the first hour of birth. This is known as “the golden hour” and research has shown that this can improve infant survival rates. Feeding within the first hour can also help your baby take in more nutrients and is a great way to kickstart the feeding process.

At this point, your newborn baby will have a stomach the size of a cherry and on the first day will only consume about a teaspoon worth of milk. A newborn baby’s stomach will only hold around 5-7ml or so of milk so don’t be worried if it seems they are not drinking a huge amount.

Breastfeeding

If you breastfeed, feeding frequently will help stimulate your breasts and the production of milk. If you find that your baby isn’t always feeding, then the simple act of simulating breastfeeding can help establish a routine. This process will also help build your milk supply.

Breastfed newborns will need to feed 8 to 12 times a day and they will consume around 90 percent of your breast milk within the first 10 minutes of feeding.

It is often recommended not to pump within the first 24 hours. This should only be done if you or your baby are unable to establish breastfeeding during the first 24 hours. This can also sometimes apply to those situations where the baby and the mother have to be separated for medical reasons.

During the first 24 hours you may find that you will produce between 600 or 700 ml of milk so don’t be alarmed if it seems like a lot.

Bottle Feeding

If you bottle feed you can start by offering your baby 30-60 ml (1-2 oz) of infant formula every 2 to 3 hours. Give them more if they are showing signs of hunger. Feeding can be done 8 to12 times during the first 24 hours. Remember to start with room temperature to establish a taste with your baby.

Day 3 to 14 – Building Up

This phase can usually occur anywhere between 24 to 120 hours after birth. However, it can take longer for some moms so if you are worried, see your nurse or pediatrician to ensure the correct nutrition is being given to your baby.

After three days, your baby’s stomach will have grown to the size of a walnut. This can be up to 30ml (1 oz) but don’t worry, your body will automatically adjust to the larger portions.

Breastfeeding

By the end of the first week of the baby’s life, the mother will usually produce around 200 to 300ml (6.5 – 10 oz) of milk every 24 hours. By this point, your baby will have a stomach the size of an apricot and will hold between 22-27 ml (0.75-1 oz) ounces of milk.

If you are breastfeeding, usually within the first 3-5 days your body will learn and adapt to how much milk your baby needs. Your body will automatically calculate how much milk to produce. This stage is very important to the development of breastfeeding and the continuation of breastfeeding your baby.

At this point their appetites may change and although their daily consumption of milk will roughly remain the same, you may notice longer periods between feeds and the feeding process will get longer. This is perfectly normal and your baby will naturally adapt to the change in routine.

Feeding your newborn baby at least 10 times per day during the first week will help to promote healthy and bountiful milk supply. Your body will adapt and learn how and when your baby eats. The amount of milk produced will change, depending on your baby’s feeding habits and appetite.

In these first initial stages, if your baby does not wake themselves up to feed during a nap, your pediatrician or nurse may recommend waking them for feedings.

During this period your breast will be becoming accustomed to the amount of milk your baby will need. Your milk will also be producing different levels of fat and increased lactose. This is vital for your baby and will give them the energy they will need to grow.

Bottle Feeding

Babies are very good at determining how much they want. In the first month, the average is usually between 60-90 ml (2-3 oz) per feeding.

After the first day, gradually introduce more formula as the demand from your baby becomes greater. However, you should not push them to take in more than they want.

You can also determine how much formula to use by calculating how many ounces per bottle you need. To do this, divide the ounces needed in a 24-hour period by the number of feedings your baby takes during that time.

Day 14 to 6 Months – Maintaining

During this stage, it is important to follow a few simple rules to ensure your baby is getting the right amount of nutrients they need.

Make sure they are nursing efficiently and consuming the regular amounts they need. Keep an eye on your baby’s feeding routine. If you see them deviate from this or begin to lose their appetite, consult your pediatrician for further guidance.

Breastfeeding

By this point, you will be producing up to 750ml (23 oz) every 24 hours. Providing your feeding and pumping routine is consistent, then this won’t have any drastic change. During this stage, your baby will continue to grow (on average around 1-2 pounds per month).

At around 2 months, your baby will consume around 120-150 ml (4-5 oz) during each feed. During this stage, your body will switch from producing colostrum to releasing more mature milk. This will enable you to meet the needs of your newborn baby and adapt as they grow.

At 4 months you may notice that your baby will consume more milk during each feeding. This will typically be around 120-180 ml (4-6 oz) and will increase until around the 6-month mark.

Bottle Feeding

When bottle-feeding during this period you can use the same rule of calculating your baby’s weight and multiplying by 2.5 to get the desired amount of formula you need. However, the average amount is as follows.

  • One month: 120 ml (4 oz) per feeding.
  • Two months: 120-150 ml (4-5 oz) ounces per feeding.
  • Four months: 120-180 ml (4-6 oz) ounces per feeding.
  • Six months: 180-240 ml (6-8 oz) ounces per feeding.

Using this as a guideline will help you determine how much you need. However, keeping an eye on your baby’s appetite will also enable you to determine how much they will need.

6 Months and On

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that the best time that children should be introduced to foods other than breast milk or infant formula is when they are around 6 months old.

So, how do you know when your baby is ready to wean off milk?

The AAP suggests that these signs can indicate that your child is developmentally ready:

  • Your child can sit with little or no support.
  • Your child has good head control.
  • Your child opens his or her mouth and leans forward when food is offered.

In addition to solids, at this stage, your baby will cap off at around 750-1000ml (25-33oz) of milk over 24 hours and will consume 180-230 ml (6-8 oz) of milk during each feeding.

Signs Your Baby Is Hungry

baby sleeping in woman’s arms

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) suggests these hunger cues let you know when your baby is hungry and ready for a feeding:

  • Fists moving to mouth
  • Head-turning to look for the breast
  • Becoming more alert and active
  • Sucking on hands or lip-smacking
  • Opening and closing mouth

The USDA also states that although it is quite common to think that a baby crying indicates hunger, this is not always the case. Crying is usually a sign of distress and if your baby is hungry, they will often show the signs listed above before leading to crying.

Signs Your Baby Is Full

Babies have an instinct to stop eating if they are full and will generally only eat when they are hungry. You don’t need to push your baby into drinking more than they want to. This can harm their instincts that allow for proper growth and development.

Please note that if you notice that your baby continues to refuse to feed, then consult your pediatrician.

The USDA suggests that these are signs to look out for when your baby is done eating

  • Your baby releases or “falls off” your breast.
  • Your baby turns away from your nipple.
  • Your baby relaxes their body and opens their fists.

It’s also worth noting that if your baby seems done with feeding on one breast, try burping them and offer the other breast. If they seem uninterested and refuse to latch, it could indicate they are not hungry anymore. Some babies will eat from both breasts, whilst others may only eat from one.

Methods of Feeding

You may want to consider whether you will choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed (with milk formula). Ultimately, it is down to the parent’s decision whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed, and each method has its benefits.

The American Pregnancy Association recommends that when it comes to deciding to breastfeed or bottle-feed, mothers are often encouraged to breastfeed unless there is a medical reason not to. This is because there are many health benefits of breastfeeding and can make stronger bonds between you and your child easier to achieve. Breastfeeding is strongly recommended by all medical communities. Even the smallest amount of breast milk in the first 6 months can be beneficial for your baby.

However, there are reasons to consider bottle feeding, such as convenience and health issues that can prevent breastfeeding (such as the mother not being able to produce enough milk or any medications they may be on). More important than your decision is ensuring that your little one gets all of the food and love that they need to grow.

Final Thoughts

Though the information here is a good starting point for most babies, every baby and mother is different. That’s just human nature. You may find that your baby will adapt to slightly different routines and schedules as they grow. No matter which method of feeding you use, the process of feeding your baby can be a very fulfilling experience.