How much breastmilk does baby need?

How much breastmilk does baby need?
If you're pumping for your baby you might be wondering how much expressed breastmilk your baby will need to eat at each feeding. This is especially important if you will be away from your baby for an extended period of time so you'll know how much milk to leave with your caregiver. We've compiled the best resources we could find to help you feed your little one.

How much breastmilk does my baby need by age?

In the first few weeks of life, your baby's breastmilk needs will increase quite a bit and then stabalise between 1 and 6 months of age, or longer, depending on when he or she starts eating solid foods. You might notice a gradual decrease in breastmilk consumption once baby starts solid foods, but remember that breastmilk should still be the primary source of nutrition for the first year.

In the first couple of days after baby is born, baby will need just 5-7mL of milk at each feeding, which a half a tablespoon. Mother's milk generally comes in between 3 and 5 days so colostrum is all your baby needs for those first few days. Remember that this is a generalisation based on a healthy, full-term baby, and that your baby may have different intake needs if he or she is premature or has another medical condition. Always adhere to your care provider's advice.

Breastmilk calculator

For babies fed breastmilk exclusively between ages 1 to 6 months who have not started solid foods yet, KellyMom has an excellent milk calculator to help you determine how much milk you should plan on having based on how many times your baby normally feeds throughout the day.
Click here for KellyMom's breastmilk calculator.
Tip: once breastmilk is warmed and baby drinks from a bottle, it will need to be used right away. In fact, many daycare centres are required to toss any remaining breastmilk that's leftover in a bottle after a feeding. Rather than sending one or two large, full bottles with your caregiver, try sending several small bottles to avoid wasting that liquid gold :)

How much breastmilk does baby need after 6 months?

Once your baby starts eating solid foods, you may see a gradual decrease in breastmilk consumption; however, it's recommended that baby continues to receive breastmilk until at least 2 years of age. So how much breastmilk should you expect to feed your older baby or toddler? Here's what KellyMom has to say:
Several studies have measured breastmilk intake for babies between 12 and 24 months and found typical amounts to be 14-19 oz per day (400-550 mL per day). Studies looking at breastmilk intake between 24 and 36 months have found typical amounts to be 10-12 oz per day (300-360 mL per day).

The ultimate takeaway is to pay attention to your baby. If you notice he or she isn't finishing bottles, she may need less breastmilk; or, if he or she is finishing bottles and still acting hungry, an increase in breastmilk might be necessary.

What can I do if I'm concerned about low milk supply?

If you're seeing a decrease in output while pumping it can be stressful especially if you're thinking about how much milk your baby needs to eat each day. However, there are a few things you can try.

Make sure you're replacing your pump parts regularly

It's important to replace your pump parts regularly, especially the valves and backflow protectors, because as these wear down it can drastically impact suction of the pump which can hurt your milk supply.

Make sure you're using the correct breastshield and settings on your pump

Did you know that your nipple can change size over the course of your pumping journey? It's important to measure your nipple every so often to make sure you're using the correct sized breastshield, especially in the first 3-4 months postpartium when your milk supply is regulating. It's also important that you're using the correct settings on your pump. Play around with different suction levels and cycle speeds until you find something that yields the most milk. Consider swapping back and forth between massage mode to stimulate multiple letdowns. As always, never pump above your maximum comfort level as that can hinder milkflow and potentially cause injury. Our customer support team can help guide you along this process :)

Drink plenty of water

Generally speaking, the more water you drink, the more milk you'll produce. You will need to keep your fluids up especially during times baby is demanding more milk, such as during a growth spurt. This is especially important if you're exclusively expressing.

Use your pump to boost your milk supply

You can use your breast pump to boost your milk supply. There are several methods available for you to try.

Try different foods

There are certain foods and beverages, such as oatmeal and coconut milk, that women swear by for boosting their milk supply. Click here for some recipes submitted by Spectra mamas!

Rule out something else

If you've tried everything else and you haven't seen an increase an output all, consider seeing a lactation professional to rule out whether a medical condition, such as IGT or tongue tie, could be hurting your supply. The methods mentioned above will usually yield positive results within a couple days to a week, so it's important to seek help if you're struggling with supply. As always, if you're not sure about something please reach out to us!

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