How many ml of pumped breastmilk should my newborn be eating?

Quick Answer

The amount of breastmilk a newborn needs per feeding depends on their age and size. On average, a newborn consumes around 2-3 ounces (60-90 ml) per feeding in the first few days. By 2-3 weeks, they may take in 4-5 ounces (120-150 ml) per feeding. The general guideline is to offer 2.5 ounces (75 ml) per pound of body weight in a 24 hour period. So a 7 pound newborn would need around 17-20 ounces (510-600 ml) per day. However, every baby is different and will regulate their intake based on their own needs. It’s best to feed on demand rather than adhere to a strict schedule.

How Much Breastmilk Does a Newborn Need?

Breastmilk provides complete and optimal nutrition for newborns. It contains the ideal balance of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and hormones. The composition even adjusts over time to meet the changing needs of the growing infant.

In the first few days after birth, newborns have very small stomach capacities of 5-7 ml. They need to eat frequently, about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours, consuming small volumes of 2-10 ml per feeding. By the end of the first week, stomach size increases to 22-27 ml and infants take in around 15-30 ml per feeding.

Here is a general guide to the recommended amount of breastmilk based on a newborn’s age:

Age Average Feeding Amount
First 3 days 2-10 ml
4 days – 2 weeks 15-30 ml
2 weeks – 1 month 30-60 ml
1 – 3 months 60-90 ml

By one month of age, the stomach capacity is 80-150 ml and babies feed around 6-8 times per day taking in 30-60 ml per feed. At 2 months, stomach capacity reaches 160-220 ml and feeding volume per session is typically 60-90 ml.

Some newborns may take in more or less than these average amounts. Growth spurts around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months often increase appetite for a few days. Illness can temporarily reduce intake. So it’s important to monitor wet diapers and weight gain, rather than focus too much on measured quantities.

Feeding Based on Weight

Another way to estimate the appropriate amount of breastmilk is calculating ounces per pound of body weight. The general guideline is:

– Birth to 1 month: 2.5 oz per lb per day
– 1-6 months: 2 oz per lb per day

So for a 7 pound newborn, the recommended daily breastmilk intake would be around 17-20 ounces.

Here is a table with daily recommended intake by weight:

Weight Birth – 1 Month 1 – 6 Months
5 lbs 13 oz 10 oz
7 lbs 18 oz 14 oz
10 lbs 25 oz 20 oz
15 lbs 38 oz 30 oz

This amount can be divided by 8-12 feeds per day. Again, these are general guidelines and volumes taken at each feeding can vary.

It’s best to offer both breasts at each feeding and let the infant feed until satisfied. Some newborns may need more frequent feeds while others can last a bit longer between feeds. Allowing them to feeding on cue, rather than a schedule, ensures they get adequate nutrition.

Signs Baby is Hungry

Since newborns eat on demand, it’s helpful to understand cues that signal they are ready to nurse. These include:

– Bringing hands to mouth
– Turning head side to side, searching for nipple
– Moving lips or tongue
– Rooting reflex – opening mouth and moving head when cheek is stroked
– Sucking on fingers or fists
– Fussing or crying

Crying is a late sign of hunger, so try to recognize early feeding cues. However, newborns should be nursed whenever they seem hungry, whether it’s been 15 minutes or 3 hours since the last feed. Cluster feeding, where baby wants to nurse more frequently, is common in the evenings or during growth spurts.

Indications Baby is Getting Enough

It can be challenging for mothers to know if their breastfed newborn is getting enough milk, especially in the early weeks. Here are some signs that baby is adequately fed:

– Producing the expected number of wet and soiled diapers for their age
– Having at least 6-8 wet diapers and 3-4 stools daily by the end of the first week
– Good color with no pallor or jaundice
– Strong sucking reflex and audible swallowing
– Appears satisfied and content after most feeds
– Sleeping comfortably between feeds
– Steady weight gain with return to birth weight by 10-14 days
– Weight gain of about 4-8 ounces per week

Conversely, inadequate intake may be indicated by:

– Fewer than 6 wet diapers and 3 stools daily after day 4
– Poor latch or weak suck
– Falling asleep quickly while nursing
– Fussiness or crying right after feeding
– Very long feedings with little result

If signs of hunger persist even after 8-12 feedings in a day, speak to a lactation consultant to address any breastfeeding challenges. Most babies will regulate their milk intake as needed. But monitoring wet diapers, stools and weight gain can provide reassurance they are getting enough.

Pumping and Storing Breastmilk

Mothers may want to pump and store breastmilk to allow other caregivers to feed the baby. This also creates an emergency stash in case of illness or other issues.

The amount pumped does not indicate the actual breastmilk production capacity, which is based on a continuous supply and demand system. Some key points:

– Wait until breastfeeding is well-established, around 3-6 weeks, before regularly pumping to build a milk supply
– Pump after feeding or between feeds when production is highest
– An electric double pump speeds collection and simulates a better letdown reflex
– Pump each breast for 10-15 minutes; schedule pumping sessions consistently
– Feed the fresh milk first before using refrigerated or frozen milk
– Refrigerate pumped milk for up to 4 days; freeze for up to 6 months

The quantity of milk pumped depends on many factors like the pump, the mother’s response, time since last feeding, etc. For reference, when pumping:

– Days 1-5: Get drops to up to 15 ml/breast
– Days 5-15: Build to about 60-120 ml per session
– Week 4+: Collect 120-170 ml per session

But pumped output isn’t a good measure of actual milk supply. Focus on baby’s input (wet diapers, weight gain) rather than pumped output. Feed on demand and pump as needed to provide milk when away from baby.

Reasons for Low Breastmilk Supply

Sometimes mothers are concerned about low milk supply if baby seems hungry or isn’t satisfied by feeding. But true insufficient milk production is uncommon. More often, it’s an issue of poor breastfeeding management. Reasons for low supply include:

– Infrequent feedings or long intervals between feeds
– Not emptying the breasts thoroughly when nursing/pumping
– Using a nipple shield, pacifier or bottle too much
– Mother’s health problems or hormonal issues
– Poor latch or ineffective sucking/nursing
– Introducing formula or solids too early

Solutions for increasing low milk supply:

– Nurse at least 8-12 times daily, allowing baby to empty the breast
– Ensure proper flange fitting and pump settings if pumping
– Nurse or pump more frequently, including night feeds
– Ensure good latch and oral anatomy

The key is stimulating the breasts more to increase prolactin and oxytocin to boost production. It also helps to manage stress levels. But if supply is still low after trying these techniques, see a lactation consultant or doctor. Taking galactagogue herbal supplements may also help.

Supplementing with Formula

Most healthy babies can get all the nutrition they need from breastmilk. But sometimes supplementing with a little formula is recommended:

– For hypoglycemia in newborns
– If baby loses over 10% of birth weight
– For dehydration if milk supply is not yet established
– If mother is taking medications where breastfeeding is contraindicated
– To allow mother some rest time while another caregiver feeds baby
– If mother is sick or unable to produce enough milk

But frequent formula supplementation can reduce breastmilk production since the breasts get less stimulation. If using formula:

– Give only the minimum needed to satisfy hunger or treat the medical issue
– Use a small syringe, spoon or cup instead of a bottle
– Ensure baby finishes nursing first before offering formula
– Pump to keep up stimulation and supply during supplementing

Check with the pediatrician before supplementing with formula. The goal is to maintain breastfeeding and build milk production. Temporary supplementation should not reduce long-term ability to establish breastfeeding.

When to Introduce Bottles

Some advantages of bottles:

– Allow another caregiver to feed baby breastmilk
– Can help soothe babies with a strong sucking reflex
– Allow being fed in upright position which may reduce reflux

But bottles come with some drawbacks:

– Nipple confusion – baby may get used to artificial nipple and refuse breast
– May interfere with breastfeeding if overused
– More difficult to pace feedings to an appropriate speed
– Can hide whether baby is getting enough milk if intake volume isn’t tracked

Guidelines for introducing a bottle:

– Wait at least 3-4 weeks before offering a bottle
– Start with just one bottle per day to minimize nipple confusion
– Choose a bottle and nipple that mimics breastfeeding
– Pace bottle feeding to control flow
– Limit use to less than one bottle per day on average

By following these tips, many babies can go between bottle and breast without issue. But baby may still prefer the fast flow of the bottle. Keep bottle use to a minimum to maintain breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Challenges

Many mothers encounter some problems when starting out breastfeeding. Common issues include:

Sore nipples – Usually from poor latch or improper positioning. Apply lanolin cream. Adjust nursing hold.

Engorgement – Breasts become hard, swollen and painful as milk comes in. Apply cold compress and gentle massage. Feed frequently to relieve fullness.

Plugged ducts – Lump or tender area on breast. Massage lump while nursing. Feed on affected side first. Apply warm compress.

Mastitis – Breast tissue infection causing flu-like symptoms. Take antibiotics and acetaminophen. Nurse frequently on affected side. Drink lots of fluids. See doctor if not quickly improving.

Thrush – Yeast infection causing sore nipples or white patches in baby’s mouth. Mother and baby both need antifungal treatment. Sterilize any breast pump parts.

Reflux – Baby spits up much of the feeding. Burp frequently, hold baby upright during and after feeds, feed smaller volumes more often.

Low supply – Ensure proper latch, nurse frequently on demand, pump after feeding to increase stimulation. Monitor baby’s output. See lactation consultant.

Proper education, support and lactation guidance can help overcome most hurdles so babies continue getting the immense benefits of breastmilk. Reach out for help whenever issues arise.

Weaning from Breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for around the first 6 months of life. As solid foods are introduced, continue breastfeeding until at least age 1 and longer if desired. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year and for as long as mutually desired.

Some benefits of extended breastfeeding:

– Continued immune protection from breastmilk
– Nutrients like vitamin B12 and vitamin D needed in second half of first year
– Promotes oral health as solid foods may increase cavities
– Convenience of nursing on-the-go
– Comfort for active, exploring toddlers
– Continued bonding and security

Around 6 months, nursing sessions decrease as other foods make up larger portion of diet. But breastmilk remains an important source of fat, calories and hydration as solids are not fully established until close to a year.

To naturally wean, follow baby’s cues:

– Gradually replace one nursing session with a solid meal
– Eliminate one session every few weeks or month
– Start with sessions baby is least interested in, like night feeds
– Distract baby with toys or books instead of nursing
– Limit nursing sessions to just before naps/bedtime
– Offer a sippy cup of water or milk when wanting to nurse for comfort

Weaning is easier once baby can drink from a cup and is less reliant on breastmilk. By age one, breastfeeding is usually down to a few times a day. Weaning completely anytime after 12 months is considered appropriate.


Determining how much breastmilk a newborn needs per feeding can seem complicated. Growth spurts, illness and other factors make intake unpredictable. While guidelines provide averages, remaining flexible and feeding on demand ensures baby gets enough nutrition. Monitor wet diapers, weight gain and satisfaction after feeds. If concerned about low supply, correct any breastfeeding problems right away and seek lactation support. With patience and education, mothers can meet their baby’s needs and provide the unique health benefits of breastmilk.

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