How much milk should I be giving them?

| Newborn feeding

Breastfeeding isn’t an exact science. You’re not going to be able to measure out how much your baby is getting per feed or per day. And the best part? You don’t need to.

Your body intuitively knows how much milk your baby needs and, in most cases, should keep up supply with demand. Impressive, right? All you need to do is feed your baby when they’re hungry. Their head turning and mouth opening toward your chest; sucking their fingers or fist; and restlessness are all signs they’re after a feed. For the first few weeks, you can roughly expect to feed them between 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Your baby will no doubt take the lead in letting you in know when these feeds will take place. Offer both breasts on each feed and remember it isn’t possible to overfeed a breastfed baby. Baby knows when they’re hungry and when they’re full.

How much expressed milk or formula you should be giving them is going to vary depending on their age, weight, and whether you’re doing combination feeding. Babies fed with breastmilk from one to six months will typically have between 50ml-210ml per feed. Before you start to expressing, there can be a stress that you’re going to pump too much or not enough, we get it. At first, aim for 60ml per feed. If they can’t finish the bottle, it’ll be clear you need to do less next time. If they’re looking around to see if there’s more, increase the amount slightly next time. Keep in mind though that your little person’s appetite is going to vary throughout the day, so don’t expect them to finish the whole bottle each time. Your breasts may not be producing much milk in the first few weeks, so try to do what you can and persevere with expressing regularly to keep up supply. Do also note that initially it’ll be easier for baby to get milk from the breast than it will be to express.

Typically, full-term babies will need around 150ml-200ml of formula per kilogram of their body weight over 24 hours. For example, if your baby weighs 4kg, they’ll need 550ml-800ml of formula each day. Obviously, the amount of formula your baby needs is going to increase as they grow older as well as bigger. In the first weeks, your baby will likely be able to manage 60ml-70ml at each feed. Beyond the two-week mark, they’ll want more and this could be between 430ml and 735ml a day (75ml-105ml per feed). At first, things are going to be trial and error. Start with 60ml at each feed and work up or down from there. Do they finish quickly? Take things up 10ml next time. Again, keep the natural ebbs and flows of their appetite in mind and don’t ever force them to finish the bottle.

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself: is my baby putting on weight? Are they growing? Do they seem happy? Are their nappies wet or dirty on a daily basis? If you can answer yes to these questions, they’re getting enough milk. If you’re still worried, please don’t hesitate to ask a health care professional.