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Your question:

How many ozs expressed breastmilk should I give my baby?

Expert’s answer:

Mums often wonder how much expressed breastmilk they will need to have available when they plan to be away from their baby.

In exclusively breastfed babies, milk intake increases quickly during the first few weeks of life, then stays about the same between one and six months (though it likely increases short term during growth spurts). Current breastfeeding research does not indicate that breast milk intake changes with baby’s age or weight between one and six months. After six months, breast milk intake will continue at this same level until — sometime after six months, depending in baby’s intake from other foods — baby’s milk intake begins to decrease gradually (see below).

The research tells us that exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 25 oz (750 ml) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. Different babies take in different amounts of milk; a typical range of milk intakes is 19-30 oz per day (570-900 ml per day).

We can use this information to estimate the average amount of milk baby will need at a feeding:

  • Estimate the number of times that baby nurses per day (in 24 hours).
  • Then divide 25 oz (750ml) by the number of nursings.
  • This gives you a rough guide for the amount of expressed milk your exclusively breastfed baby will need at one feeding.

Example: If baby usually nurses around 8 times per day, you can guess that baby might need around 3 oz (94ml) per feeding when Mum is away.

If you plan to use a bottle to give your baby expressed breastmilk, do choose a slow flowing nipple, as it this will allow your baby to pace the feed and control the amount of milk they take as well as the speed at which they feed.  Other ways to give your baby expressed breastmilk include using a feeder cup or even a spoon.

If you plan to introduce a regular pattern giving expressed milk by bottle, giving this feed earlier in the evening will help ensure it does not impact your milk supply.  If you do start to notice a slight drop in your supply, you will find that going back to the breast for this feed will help.

Keep in mind that the amount of milk that your baby takes at a particular feeding will vary, just as the amount of food and drink that an adult takes throughout the day will vary. Your baby will probably not drink the same amount of milk at each feeding.  Watch their cues instead of simply encouraging them to finish the bottle.

If your baby is taking substantially more than the average amounts, consider the possibility that they are being given too much milk while you are away. Things that can contribute to this include:

  • Using bottle feeding as the primary way to comfort baby. Some well-meaning caregivers feed baby the bottle every time they make a sound. Use the information above to estimate the amount of milk that baby needs, and start with that amount. If your baby still seems to be hungry, have your caregiver first check to see whether they will settle with walking, rocking, holding, etc. before offering another ounce or two.
  • Baby’s need and have a strong urge to suck, and this need may be greater while Mum is away (sucking is comforting to baby). A baby can control the flow of milk at the breast and will get minimal milk when they mainly need to suck for comfort. With a bottle this doesn't sucking. If baby is taking large amounts of expressed milk while you are away, you might consider encouraging baby to suck on clean, trimmed fingers or a thumb.

 

 

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