Hey mama! To answer your question, generally, newborns need 1-1.5 teaspoons of breast milk (days 1-3), 0.75-1 ounces of milk (days 3-7), and 1.5-2 ounces of milk (for the first month).
It’s hard to say exactly how much breast milk each baby needs because babies are born in all shapes and sizes–some of them are even 10lb like my second 😱–and a mother’s body produces the exact amounts and nutrients their baby needs unless the mother or baby has a medical condition.
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There are a lot of variables when it comes to answering a pretty straightforward question.
I will do my best to give you all of the information I’ve learned over 40 months (and counting!) of extended breastfeeding between my two kids.
Jump Ahead To:
A Mom Who Gets It
I’ve struggled firsthand with not knowing whether my baby was getting enough milk, whether they were getting too much, fussiness, gas, reflux, latch problems, the works!
I’m here to give you some reassurance that while the first few weeks of
Disclaimer: Before we get too far, I’m just a mom who has been on a
How Much Breast Milk Do Newborns Need?
Babies take what they need at each feeding and stop when full.
The amount of breast milk your newborn gets is unknown if they feed from the breast.
We can use general clues and guides to determine how much milk they are getting based on their tummy size.
|Baby’s Age||Size of Baby’s Stomach||Ounces Per Feed||Total Ounces (8 Feeds Per Day)||Total Ounces (10 Feeds Per Day)|
|1 Day||(Cherry) |
|2-2.5 oz |
|7 Days||(Apricot) |
|1 Month||(Large Egg) |
Based on this chart, a 3-day-old baby could take 6 to 10 ounces of breast milk daily. A one-month-old could take between 20 and 35oz per day.
This is because every mother’s milk is different. Some mothers’ milk might be fattier, richer, and more nutrient-dense. While others will have a thinner, more watery consistency.
Both are perfectly fine as long as your baby is happy and healthy.
What Are The Different Types of Breast Milk and When Do They Come In?
There are three types of breastmilk:
- Colostrum: Your body starts producing colostrum (nutrient-dense first milk) as early as _ weeks into your pregnancy. When your baby is born, colostrum will be their first meal. You don’t produce much colostrum, and that’s because your baby’s stomach is small at birth. A few teaspoons per day is all they need.
- Breast Milk: Your milk should come between 2 and 5 days postpartum.
You’ll know when your breastmilk has come in when your breasts are engorged and hard to the touch, you are leaking a white, watery liquid, and your baby has milk all over their cheeks.
Mine was always close to 5 days, and my chunky second baby was not having ANY OF IT. We had to give him some formula to tide him over for a few days 😆.
- Foremilk: The first milk out is lighter and more watery. Think of it as quenching your baby’s thirst.
- Hindmilk: Hindmilk comes later in the feed. It is thicker and fattier. Think of this milk as filling your baby’s tummy.
How Often Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
Babies should be fed on demand (responsive feeding), not on a schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends on-demand
Here are some feeding cues to look for:
- Move their hands to their mouth.
- Put things in their mouth.
- Root (turning head or bobbing to latch on to something).
- Sucking noises or motions.
- Clenched fingers.
- Flexing and flailing arms and legs.
The sounds that your newborn is making can also tell you their needs. This is known as the Dunstan Baby Language. You can listen for your baby to say they are hungry verbally.
But I Need a Schedule!
I know, I know. Living life minute to minute is tough.
If you want to plan your day a little or anticipate your baby’s hunger needs, here are some general guidelines for a newborn
You should aim to nurse 8-12 times a day (10 being the average). This is every 1-3 hours (from the start of the first feed to the start of the next).
Your baby might have times of the day when they nurse closer together (for my babies, this was always in the evening) and other times when they go longer stretches.
Unless your pediatrician has told you otherwise, you should not let your newborn go more than 4 hours between feeds. This includes overnight.
If your baby doesn’t wake naturally to feed at night, follow your pediatrician’s recommendation and wake the baby every 2-4 hours. Gradually, these stretches will get longer (6-8 hours).
Once my son hit his original birth weight (around two weeks old), we were cleared for longer stretches of sleep (4-6 hours).
Most breastfed babies won’t sleep through the night in their first year. Because breastmilk is easily digestible, breastfed babies will wake more often than formula-fed babies.
What is Cluster Feeding?
Newborns cluster feed. This is a period of frequent feeding and/or wanting to be latched for extended periods.
Breastmilk is a supply-and-demand game. Your baby sucking for more on an empty breast tells your body to produce more milk (cool, huh?).
Cluster feeding is your newborn telling your body to ramp up milk production!
Cluster feeding can be amazing (if you have a sleepy baby with a gentle latch) or downright miserable (if you have a fussy baby with talons for lips). It won’t last long (usually a day or two).
Don’t be surprised when cluster feeding comes back when your baby is sick or going through a growth spurt. Totally normal. Again, it’s your baby’s way of communicating to your body that they need more milk for their growth or recovery stage.
Length and Time of Feeds
On average, newborns’ feeds should be 10-15 minutes per side, 20-30 minutes total.
As your baby ages, this will decrease to 5-10 minutes per side.
I’ve known moms whose babies are super speedy eaters, taking only 3-4 minutes per side after the first few months (talk about efficiency).
The length of your feed will also depend on how quickly you let down and how strong your letdown is.
A letdown is when your breasts release the flow of milk. For some, this happens immediately (those lucky babies!), and milk flows immediately. For others, it can take 1-5 minutes.
Most moms feel their letdown. Others don’t feel their letdown at all.
It feels like a tingling, filling, or rushing sensation in the breast. Some lucky mamas–like myself–experience a wave of nausea with their letdown 🤢.
Babies will frantically suck at the nipple to stimulate the letdown; you’ll know they are getting milk once they calm down and get into a deep rhythmic pattern.
Is My Baby Getting Enough Breastmilk?
It’s easy to worry when you can see how much milk a baby gets from the breast like you can with a bottle. Try not to worry, mama. Your baby and body are in sync; unless your pediatrician is concerned about their weight, there is no reason to fret.
Here are some ways to ease your mind to know they are getting milk (aside from proper weight gain):
- Sounds: Listen to your baby as she suckles. Does she make a soft “kuh” sound? Some babies are quieter than others, but this sound indicates she is swallowing.
- Breasts: Are your breasts more soft after a feeding? This indicates that your baby could empty some of the milk.
- Growth: Is your pediatrician happy with your baby’s growth?
- Diapers: You can monitor your baby’s breastmilk intake by how much they output 💩! Here’s a guide for how many wet diapers and bowel movements your baby should have in 24 hours.
- Day 1-3: This will vary. You should see some urination and bowel movements (stool will be black and tarry- called meconium). Your doctors and nurses will monitor this while you are in the hospital.
- Day 3-5: Continue to track wet and poopy diapers. Report this at your baby’s checkups. You are looking for four poops in the first four days. By day 5, the stool should change from meconium to a looser mustardy-yellow.
- Day 5 and onward: Six or more wet diapers. Three or more seedy mustard poops.
- Mood and Cues: Does your baby seem relaxed, content, or sleepy after a feeding? This is a good sign that the baby gets enough milk at each feeding to be full and satisfied.
How Do I Measure How Much Breastmilk My Baby is Eating?
There are only two ways to know exactly how much breastmilk your baby drinks at each feed.
- Pumping: If you are exclusively pumping, you’ll know how much breastmilk your baby gets at each feed based on how much they drink from each bottle. You can track their intake (it might vary depending on the time of the day) with an app or paper chart.
- Scale: Buy an infant scale. Measure your baby’s weight before and after a feed. Make sure to keep them in the same clothes and diaper. Try to take the measurements immediately before and after
Example: Your baby weighs 8lb6oz before a feed. They weigh 8lb8.75oz after a feed. Your baby drank 2.75 ounces of breast milk (8lb8.75oz-8lb6oz=2.75oz).
Since day one, my dad has been hyper-fixated on how much I eat 😆 And I’m 33 years old!
When I was a newborn, he wanted to know exactly how much milk I was taking, so he bought a scale sensitive enough to detect fractions of an ounce. He would weigh me before a feed and then immediately after.
So much of postpartum (especially for moms, but also for dads) is your own mental health, stress, and anxiety levels. If it makes you feel better to know exactly how much your newborn is drinking, then get the scale. It’s not worth worrying yourself sick over.
Digital Infant Scale
Hatch Smart Scale
How Much Pumped Breastmilk Per Bottle?
Pumping is a bit of trial and error for the first few weeks because there is no set amount your baby “should” take per bottle. If you’re combination feeding (breast and bottle), look for bottles for breastfed babies to help your little one maintain a good latch and prevent nipple confusion or frustration.
My first never took more than 2 oz from a bottle as a newborn… My second took six as a newborn 😱 (my pediatrician advised that this was probably too much based on his weight gain and to dial it back a bit 😆).
Luckily, we can use a formula to give you a rough idea of where to start. A baby needs only 2.5oz per lb of body weight in 24 hours. Based on that math, we can determine how many ounces of breastmilk each bottle should have.
|Baby’s Weight (lbs)||Ounces Per Bottle |
(8 Bottles a Day)
|Ounces Per Bottle |
(10 Bottles a Day)
|6||2 oz||1.5 oz|
|6.5||2 oz||1.5 oz|
|7||2 oz||2 oz|
|7.5||2.5 oz||2 oz|
|8||2.5 oz||2 oz|
|8.5||3 oz||2 oz|
|9||3 oz||2.5 oz|
|9.5||3 oz||2.5 oz|
|10||3 oz||2.5 oz|
|10.5||3.5 oz||3 oz|
Once a baby gets to 25-30oz of milk daily (between 10-10.5lb), their intake will stay consistent.
Start with these numbers and monitor your baby for too much or too little signs.
Too Much Milk:
- Feeding takes too long (more than 10-20 minutes per bottle).
- Gets fussy partway through the bottle.
- Spitting up, gagging, or choking excessively.
- Becomes gassy or fussy in the 20-30 minutes after a feed.
- He finishes the bottle extremely quickly (less than 5 minutes).
- He continues to suck on the nipple even after the bottle is empty.
- He is fussy when the bottle is gone.
- He wants to eat again as early as 30 to 60 minutes after finishing the last bottle.
Adjust the bottles accordingly if your baby gets too much or too little.
My 8lb baby happily took 2-4 oz of milk per bottle his entire life. It’s all about their mood, weight, and dirty diapers. If everything checks out, you’re good!
When to See a Healthcare Provider or Lactation Consultant
There is no such thing as being too cautious with newborns. If you have a question or concern, seek medical advice.
- Not Growing: Your pediatrician will monitor your baby’s weight in the first few weeks. If there are concerns, you can discuss supplementing with milk or formula.
- Jaundice: If your baby seems yellow (skin or eyes), they might not be getting enough milk to flush the bilirubin from their system. This can cause jaundice, a serious medical condition requiring immediate attention. Call your doctor right away if you suspect jaundice.
My first was jaundiced so we had to give him supplemental pumped milk and monitor his bilirubin levels daily.
- Feeds Are Too Short or Too Long: If your newborn takes less than 10 minutes for a feed or more than 30, I would mention it at your next pediatrician visit. They can tell you whether it affects the baby’s growth and whether you should see a lactation consultant.
Mom-to-Mom: My second would nurse for 30 minutes and only give me a 30-60-minute break for the first two weeks. It was mentally and physically draining. I spoke to a lactation consultant because I needed to create more time for recovery for my body.
- Painful Latch: Chapped, bleeding, and sore nipples are all par for the course in the first few weeks of
breastfeeding, but if the pain is unbearable (to the point that you can’t breastfeed even if you want to), you should reach out to a lactation consultant. They can help you with equipment, supplies, and positions and evaluate your baby’s latch for tongue and lip ties.
- You or Your Baby Are Frustrated: Breastfeeding for me has been, at times, the easiest thing I’ve done and, at times, the hardest thing I’ve done. My second nursed constantly with a horribly painful latch. I had to wear gel lactation pads just to be able to wear clothes!
I knew I should seek advice, so I contacted a lactation consultant, who helped tremendously.
Not sure where to go? Medela has a free one-on-one service to ask their lactation consultant a question.
Final Thoughts On How Much Breastmilk For Newborns
Back to your question. How much breast milk do newborns need? My answer is 2 to 20 ounces daily in the first seven days. It changes quickly! It also varies by mama and baby.
Are they growing? Are they wetting and soiling diapers? Are they content? If something seems off, reach out for help. You know your baby better than anyone.
And if you’re struggling with knowing how much milk your baby is getting and can’t relax, an infant scale can help give you peace of mind.
Best of luck, mama. The journey is worth it, whatever it looks like!