Is 2 oz of breastmilk enough for a newborn?

When it comes to feeding a newborn baby, many new parents wonder if 2 oz of breastmilk per feeding is enough. The short answer is – it depends. While 2 oz may be plenty for some babies, others may need more at each feeding. There are a few factors to consider when determining if 2 oz of breastmilk is sufficient for your newborn.

How much breastmilk do newborns need?

There is no one-size-fits-all amount of breastmilk that all newborns need. The general guideline is that newborns need to consume around 1-1.5 oz of breastmilk per each pound of body weight in a 24 hour period. So a 7 pound baby would need around 7-10 oz of milk per day. However, every baby is different. Some babies have higher metabolisms and need more milk, while others are happy with less.

Here are some general breastmilk intake guidelines based on age:

Age Breastmilk Intake Range (oz per day)
Newborn (first few days) 1-2 oz
1 week old 15-35 oz
2 weeks old 25-40 oz
1 month old 30-45 oz
2 months old 30-50 oz
3 months old 35-45 oz
4 months old 30-40 oz
5 months old 25-35 oz
6 months old 25-30 oz

As you can see, intake gradually increases during the first month and then levels off around 30-45 oz per day between 1-6 months. However, every baby is different so use these ranges as a guide only.

Factors impacting breastmilk intake

There are a few key factors that influence how much breastmilk a newborn needs at each feeding:

Baby’s age and size

Younger and smaller babies have smaller stomach capacities so they need smaller, more frequent feedings. Newborns start off taking in just 1-2 oz per feeding in the first few days. As they grow bigger, they are able to take in more milk at each feeding – usually around 2-3 oz per feeding by 1 month old. Premature or low birth weight babies need even less milk at first – usually 1-2 oz per feeding.

Time of day

Milk intake can fluctuate throughout the day. Newborns tend to cluster feed in the evenings – meaning theyfeed more frequently and take in larger volumes to boost calories. Intake is usually lowest in the late mornings/early afternoons.

Mother’s milk supply

If a mother has an oversupply of milk, the baby may get fuller faster and not need as much volume per feeding. On the other hand, a low milk supply may mean baby needs to feed longer and take in more ounces per feeding to meet caloric needs.

Baby’s feeding cues

Babies who give hunger cues like rooting, mouthing, and sucking hands are telling you they need more milk. Crying is a late hunger cue. If baby is still showing hunger cues after 2 oz, offer more.

Frequency of feedings

Newborns need to feed 8-12 times per day. If your baby is at the lower end of feedings, he may need to take in more milk at each session. Babies who feed more often don’t need as much per feeding.

How to know if baby is getting enough

Watch for the following signs to determine if your newborn is getting enough breastmilk with 2 oz feedings:

  • Gaining weight appropriately. Doctors look for babies to gain 4-7 oz per week in the first months.
  • Producing 6 or more wet diapers per day after day 4. Urine should be pale yellow.
  • Having at least 3-4 stools per day. Stools are yellow and seedy in appearance.
  • Seems satisfied after feeding and content between feeds.
  • Feeds 8-12 times per day with adequate swallowing sounds.
  • Has good skin turgor and tone.

If your baby is showing hunger cues, excessive fussiness, inadequate diapers or weight gain, it could be a sign they need more than 2 oz per feeding. Consult with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

When to offer more than 2 oz

Here are some signs your newborn may need more than 2 oz of breastmilk at each feeding:

  • Consistently sucks for more than 10-15 minutes at each feeding.
  • Drains both breasts at each feeding.
  • Roots, mouths or sucks hands right after a 2 oz feeding.
  • Falls asleep at the breast but wakes up hungry again shortly after.
  • Fussy or unsettled between feedings.
  • Not having the recommended 6-8 wet diapers per day.
  • Subpar weight gain trajectory.

Aim to nurse on demand, allowing baby to feed to fullness. Offer 2-3 oz to start and if baby is still showing hunger cues, offer more. Some babies, especially growth spurts, may need as much as 4-5 oz at a time.

Ways to increase breastmilk intake

If your baby seems to need more than 2 oz at each feeding, try these tips:

  • Nurse more frequently, at least 8-12 times per day.
  • Allow unrestricted time at the breast.
  • Offer both breasts at each session.
  • Try breast compressions while nursing to increase milk flow.
  • Make sure baby is properly latched and swallowing milk.
  • Get help from a lactation consultant if needed.
  • Ensure you are eating 500 extra calories per day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, at least 12-13 cups per day.

Increasing the frequency of nursing sessions is one of the best ways to boost your milk supply. The more milk that is removed from the breasts, the more that is produced. Staying well hydrated and getting enough calories is also key.

When to supplement with formula

Most babies can get all the nutrition they need from breastmilk. But sometimes supplementation with formula is needed if:

  • Your supply is low despite trying to increase it.
  • Baby is not gaining weight adequately.
  • Medical issues make nursing challenging.
  • You need to be away from baby for feedings.

Work with your pediatrician and lactation consultant to determine if and how much formula supplementation may be beneficial. You can use pumping and hand expression to maintain and build milk supply if supplementing.

Breastmilk storage guidelines

To be prepared whenever baby needs more milk than you can produce on demand, having a stash of pumped breastmilk is helpful. Follow these guidelines for storing breastmilk:

Storage Location Storage Time
Countertop, fresh milk Up to 4 hours
Insulated cooler bag Up to 24 hours
Refrigerator Up to 4 days
Freezer compartment inside fridge Up to 2 weeks
Freezer outside fridge 6-12 months

Use milk within these time frames and don’t refreeze thawed milk. Store milk in 2-4 oz portions to avoid waste.

Bottle feeding breastmilk

If you want to bottle feed expressed breastmilk, here are some tips:

  • Choose a slow flow nipple to mimic the breast.
  • Hold baby semi-upright, angled to feed.
  • Gently stroke down baby’s cheek to encourage paced feeding.
  • Offer 2-3 oz to start, then burp and offer more if hungry.
  • Respect feeding cues and don’t force baby to finish the bottle.
  • Avoid bottle propping which can lead to overfeeding.

Aim to use freshly pumped milk within 4 hours. For frozen milk, thaw in the fridge overnight or by putting bottle in warm water. Never microwave milk.

Weaning from breastmilk

Around 6 months, babies start needing more iron and other nutrients than breastmilk alone provides. This means starting solid foods and gradually reducing breastmilk feedings. Every baby is different, but here are some general weaning guidelines:

Baby’s Age Recommendation
6-8 months Feed solids 1-2 times per day. Breastfeed on demand all other times.
9-11 months Feed solids 2-3 times per day plus snacks. Breastmilk 3-4 times per day.
12 months Breastmilk 2-3 times per day. Rely more on solids and whole milk.
18-24 months Breastmilk once or twice a day, if desired.

Aim to wean gradually over months, not weeks. Make sure baby is developmentally ready for solids before starting. Respond to baby’s cues and don’t force weaning before they are ready.

FAQs

How long should a newborn breastfeed?

In the early weeks, aim to nurse for 10-15 minutes on each breast. Let baby nurse as long as they show hunger cues. Newborns often cluster feed in the evenings.

Is it normal for newborns to eat every 1-2 hours?

Yes, feeding about every 1-3 hours is normal and healthy for a newborn. Their stomachs are small so they need frequent feedings. As they grow, intervals extend slightly.

What if baby falls asleep quickly after 2 oz?

Newborns often fall asleep at the breast when their sucking slows. Burp them and offer the second breast. If still acting hungry, give more milk in a bottle.

Do newborns need to finish a whole bottle?

No, it’s best to follow baby’s hunger cues and stop when satisfied. Forcing them to finish a bottle can lead to overfeeding.

How can I store and warm pumped breastmilk safely?

Store milk in 2-4 oz bags or bottles. Refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze for longer. Thaw frozen milk in the fridge or in warm water, not the microwave.

Conclusion

While 2 oz per feeding may be adequate for some newborns, others will need more to meet their nutritional needs. Watch your baby’s hunger cues to see if they want more after initially nursing or taking a bottle. Offering 2-3 oz to start and then more if baby is still acting hungry is a good rule of thumb. Work closely with your pediatrician and lactation consultant to ensure your baby is getting enough nourishment in those precious early months.

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