How many Oz should I feed my breastfed baby?

Determining how many ounces to feed a breastfed baby can be confusing for new parents. Breastfed babies eat differently than formula-fed babies, so there is no set amount of milk they “should” consume at each feeding. However, there are some general guidelines that can help parents know if their breastfed baby is getting enough milk.

How much milk does a breastfed baby need?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), exclusively breastfed babies need to eat around 25 oz (750 ml) of breastmilk per day on average during the first month. However, every baby is different. Some breastfed babies will eat more, while others will eat less. Growth is a better indicator of whether a breastfed baby is eating enough than the amount of milk consumed.

As a general rule, a breastfed newborn will eat 1-3 oz (30-90 ml) per feeding during the first few weeks. But some babies will only take in a half ounce at a time, while others may consume up to 4 oz (120 ml) or more if they are especially hungry.

Feedings are also not on a strict schedule for breastfed babies. Since breastmilk digests faster than formula, breastfed babies tend to eat more frequently, usually every 1 1/2 to 3 hours on average. But some babies may nurse even more often than that.

The amount a breastfed baby eats will also increase as they grow. Here are some general milk intake guidelines from the AAP for healthy, full-term babies:

  • 1-4 months: 25-35 oz (750-1050 ml) per day
  • 4-6 months: 30-35 oz (900-1050 ml) per day
  • 6-12 months: 30-35 oz (900-1050 ml) per day

But again, these are just averages. Some babies will eat more than this, while others may eat less. It’s best to follow your baby’s hunger cues rather than trying to force them to eat a certain amount at each feeding.

Signs your breastfed baby is hungry

Since breastfed babies nurse on demand, looking for signs of hunger is key. Here are some cues that your breastfed baby wants to eat:

  • Moving head from side to side
  • Opening and closing mouth
  • Sticking out tongue
  • Rooting (turning head as if looking to latch on)
  • Sucking on hands or lips
  • Fussing or crying

Crying is a late sign of hunger, so try to nurse your baby at the earliest cues before they become overly distraught. With time, you will come to understand your baby’s unique hunger signals.

Signs your breastfed baby is full

Knowing when your breastfed baby is full is also helpful to determine if they are getting enough at each feeding. Signs of fullness include:

  • Releasing or unlatching from the breast
  • Closed mouth when offered breast
  • Turning head away from breast
  • Decreased or stopped sucking
  • Looking relaxed and content
  • Falling asleep at breast

Some babies will latch on and nurse for comfort even when full. But if your baby shows multiple signs of fullness or satisfaction, that is a good indication they have eaten enough for that feeding.

How to know if your breastfed baby is eating enough

While counting ounces can provide a rough estimate of milk intake, it’s not always an accurate reflection of whether a breastfed baby is eating enough. Here are some better ways to tell if your breastfed baby is getting sufficient milk:

  • Steady weight gain: After the initial weight loss in the first few days after birth, your breastfed baby should gain around 4-8 oz (110-225 g) per week on average for the first 3 months. Ask your pediatrician if you have any concerns about weight gain.
  • Dirty diapers: Expect at least 3-4 dirty diapers in a 24-hour period after your milk supply is established, usually by 3-5 days old. Frequent wet diapers are also a good sign.
  • Satisfaction: Your baby should seem content and satisfied after nursing, relaxing with soft hands, bright eyes, and smooth brow.
  • Adequate sucking: You should hear and see your baby swallowing frequently with slow, deep sucks intermixed with short rapid sucking during a feeding.

If your baby is showing hunger cues right after nursing or is excessively fussy, they may need a supplement or need to nurse longer per session. Contact a lactation consultant if you suspect your breastfed baby is still hungry after feedings.

How to measure breastmilk intake

If you want to get an approximate measure of how many ounces your breastfed baby is drinking for your own peace of mind, there are a few options:

  • Weigh before and after feeds: Weigh your baby in only a dry diaper before nursing, then weigh again after the feeding while still in just the dry diaper. The difference in ounces is how much milk they consumed.
  • Pump and bottle-feed: Nurse on one breast, then pump the other to bottle-feed baby the pumped milk. This allows you to know the volume taken from that breast.
  • Supplement with formula: Offer a measured amount of formula after nursing. See how much formula baby takes to help estimate breastmilk intake.

Keep in mind that these methods are not always completely precise. But they can provide a ballpark figure to help you relax about whether your baby is eating enough ounces at each feeding.

Factors that affect breastmilk intake

Many factors can influence how much breastmilk a baby consumes at each feeding, including:

  • Age: Milk intake increases as babies grow. Newborns have tiny tummies so may only take in small volumes early on.
  • Time of day: Breastmilk volume is lower in the morning and higher in the afternoon and evening when prolactin levels are higher.
  • Mother’s diet: Things like caffeine, spicy foods, or fasting can impact milk supply.
  • Hydration: Drinking enough fluids is important for ample milk production.
  • Nursing frequency: Increased nursing tells the body to make more milk.
  • Pumping frequency: More pumping sessions signal the breasts to produce greater volumes.
  • Nursing style: Inefficient latch or positioning can affect milk transfer.

If your breastfed baby suddenly seems excessively hungry or unsatisfied, look at your own diet and hydration first. Hunger spurts lasting 2-3 days are also common around growth milestones in the first year. Support your breastmilk supply by nursing or pumping more frequently until your baby’s behavior normalizes.

Is it possible to overfeed a breastfed baby?

It is generally not possible to overfeed a breastfed baby, especially in the first 6 months when their hunger and satiety signals are strongest. Breastfed babies are excellent self-regulators and will stop eating when they are full.

Newborns in particular will often “cluster feed”, which is when they nurse very frequently for several hours straight. Cluster feeding helps establish your milk supply and meets their needs for comfort as well as nutrition in the early weeks.

As solids are introduced around 6 months, you can start to watch for signs your baby is full and ending feedings sooner. But still trust your baby’s cues over trying to limit nursing times or milk volumes.

Supplementing breastfed babies

While measuring breastmilk intake can provide useful information, resist the urge to automatically supplement with formula if ounces seem less than expected. Supplementing too early or unnecessarily can impact milk supply and lead to low supply issues:

  • Aim to exclusively breastfeed for the first 4-6 weeks to help establish a healthy milk supply.
  • Only supplement if your pediatrician recommends it due to inadequate weight gain or dehydration.
  • Look for other ways to increase milk supply like more nursing sessions before supplementing.
  • If supplements are medically advised, use your pumped breastmilk first before formula if possible.
  • Continue nursing and pumping frequently when supplementing to maintain supply.

While every baby is different, most exclusively breastfed babies do not need supplementation in the first weeks and months. Have patience and focus on your baby’s overall growth and development rather than ounces consumed.

How to increase breastmilk supply

If your breastfed baby still seems hungry after frequent nursing sessions, your milk supply may need a boost. Here are some tips for increasing low milk supply:

  • Nurse on demand whenever baby shows hunger cues.
  • Allow baby to finish first breast before switching.
  • Offer both breasts at each session.
  • Aim for at least 8-12 nursing sessions per 24 hours.
  • Ensure proper latch and positioning.
  • Nurse laying back once latch is established.
  • Pump after or between nursing sessions.
  • Massage breasts during nursing or pumping.
  • Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet.
  • Get sufficient rest.
  • Avoid pacifiers and bottles until supply increases.

Ask a lactation consultant for help observing a full feeding session to identify any technique issues impacting milk transfer. Most milk supply concerns can be solved with increased nursing frequency and effective feeding habits without the need for supplementation.

When to see a doctor about breastmilk intake

See your pediatrician if your newborn:

  • Has not regained birth weight by 2 weeks.
  • Has fewer than 6-8 wet diapers daily after 6 weeks.
  • Has inconsolable crying or difficulty settling between feeds.
  • Has dark yellow urine, dry diapers, listlessness, or fever.
  • Has shown inadequate weight gain over multiple checks.

These can be signs your breastfed baby is not consuming enough milk. Your pediatrician can check for tongue-ties, illness, or other factors and recommend next steps if supplementation is needed.

See a lactation consultant if:

  • You suspect low milk supply.
  • You are struggling with pain during nursing.
  • Your baby has difficulty latching or staying latched.
  • Feedings take longer than 40 minutes.
  • Your baby falls asleep quickly at the breast.
  • You need help using breast pumps effectively.

An IBCLC can help resolve many breastfeeding challenges allowing you to continue providing breastmilk for your baby.


Breastfed babies regulate their own intake based on hunger and fullness rather than ounces consumed. While some babies follow the general guidelines, others will eat more or less than average at each feeding and still be healthy. Watch your baby for hunger and satisfaction cues, monitor weight gain, and ensure sufficient wet and dirty diapers to get a full picture of whether your breastfed baby is eating enough. Trust the process and know that breastmilk provides the ideal nutrition for your growing baby.

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