“How much does my baby need to drink?”, this is a question that is often asked mainly because when we breastfeed we don’t see how much milk is taken in by our babies. The answer is that breast milk intake will be different for each baby. Factors that can affect how much the baby will drink include (1):
- Weight (Breast milk intake will increase as baby gets heavier)
- Growth rate
- Gestational age (was baby born before 40-weeks or after)
- Day or night feed
- How productive the breast is?
1. Average Breast Milk Intakes After Birth
Babies require a minimum of 8 to 12 vigorous feedings per day in the first week of life. It is very important to know however that it is important to feed a baby on demand rather than scheduled (refer to our article on scheduled versus on-demand breastfeeding for more information).
On Day 1 of life a baby will on average drink about 7 ml of breast milk per feed and a total intake of about 37 ml over the first 24-hour period (2). Although this might appear to be very little, you must remember that the first milk, namely colostrum, is high in energy, protein and factors that build up your baby’s immune system (and therefore ability to fight off infection).
On Day 3 of life your baby will begin to drink more breast milk and is estimated to drink on average about 14 to 45 ml of milk per feed and a total day intake of about 408 ml. Your body knows that you baby needs more milk as it is on day 3 where your breasts start feeling fuller as colostrum now becomes “mature milk” which is higher in carbohydrates and fat.
By Day 14 of life your baby will have an average intake of 30 ml to 90 ml per feed (1). It is now at 14 days that your health care practitioner can also see if your baby is growing well by monitoring your baby’s weight. Babies can lose between 7 to 10 % of their body weight after birth. This weight however should be regained by 14 days of life (1,2). From Day 14 the mother’s breast milk supply is also dependent on how much is removed. So basically, the more the baby removes the more will be produced.
2. What Other Markers Can I Look At To See If My Baby Is Growing Well And Getting Enough?
To see if your baby is getting enough breast milk in, you can further look at the following criteria (1,2):
- Your baby must pass at least 6-8 wet or dirty nappies
- Gaining not loosing weight or keeping at a constant weight
- Normal minimal weight gain of 20 g/kg/day from 2 to 6 weeks of age
- Healthy baby’s need to double their weight by 5 to 6 months of age
- Healthy baby’s need to triple their weight by one year of life
Although guidelines are always great to have, when in doubt it is very important to go see a healthcare practitioner. Remember prevention is better than cure.
- Riodan, J. & Auerbach, K. G. Pocket guide to breastfeeding and human lactation. 2nd Ed. Jones and Bartlett publishers.
- Seidel, B. Growth, Intake and feeding patterns: What is normal for a breastfed baby? http://www.springfieldul.org/Custom/Library/1/documents/2013-04-02/NormalFeedingAmountsandNormalGrowth.pdf Date of access: 8 Jul. 2017.