In the very first weeks and months of a baby’s life, your baby will grow more than at any time of their lives. Breast milk provides the vital nutrients to ensure that your baby gets what is necessary to promote healthy growth. However, how much breast milk does a newborn need?
Getting Down To It
How many ounces of breast milk does a newborn need?
If you are a working mother you may want to know the answer to that question because very likely you will be away from your baby. You are going to want to plan ahead with pumping. So, knowing how much is necessary for your baby is important.
There is a lot of information out there that tries to explain this, however, not all of the information is accurate. Therefore, I wanted to clarify this for you. If you have been asking yourself, how many ounces of breast milk does a newborn need, it will interest you to know that according to many well-respected doctors, the most general rule of thumb is for your baby to receive 2 – 3 ounces of breast milk per day per pound of body weight. So, a baby weighing seven pounds would need anywhere between 15 – 20 ounces of breast milk.
You may need to feed your baby several times throughout the day, up to 5 – 6 feedings. The amounts may be about 4 – 6 ounces per feeding depending on how much your baby weighs and needs. If you are going to be away during the day because of work you will need to pump the necessary amount.
However, that ratio will decrease over time as your baby switches to solid foods. But, just because you have started feeding your baby solid food does not mean that you should stop feeding them breast milk. As your baby grows more and more, their needs change and solid food will become the primary diet. Some mothers continue to breastfeed well past 36 months of their baby’s life.
Another point that will make you understand how many ounces of breast milk a newborn need is that the more your baby grows the less they need.
It may be counter-intuitive but the more your baby grows the less breast milk he or she will need. As mentioned, the very first weeks of a baby’s life they are growing the most. Your baby will need the vital nutrients to do this. If the only source that they have for this is mother’s milk then the baby is going to need proper amount. However, the ratio of the number of ounces of breast milk versus the body weight of your baby gets smaller.
When your baby gets older, perhaps four months of age, they may be slowing down the number of times they feed throughout the day, but the amounts they consumer per feeding increases. A 14-pound baby may only feed 4 times per day, but are consuming approximately 8 ounces per feeding. So, the ratio of 2- 3 ounces per pound of body weight starts to get smaller, dropping below 2 ounces per pound of body weight. Here is a relatable video to help explain this more – https://youtu.be/ncPAROXIRlE
However, eventually, the baby will need less and less breast milk and at the same time, your baby will be switching to solid food. But, this is not a switch that happens all at one moment. Instead, it is a gradual shift.
Another concern when trying to discover how many ounces of breast milk a newborn need is whether to feed your baby breast milk in between solid meals, or just before or after a meal. This depends on how hungry your baby is. Often, this varies throughout the day. Your baby may want to start their morning off with breast milk and then not be hungry for solid food for some time. But, later in the day, it may be that your baby will feed off of breast milk and then eat solid food immediately afterward.
Keep in mind that the real world is quite different for each individual. You will be the best judge of your baby’s needs. However, the guidelines are very practical and can give you a sense of how to judge your baby’s needs. Knowing your baby is the key. But, then again, life is different in the real world and sometimes how much your baby wants to feed varies.
Hopefully, you have a better sense of how important the nutrients you baby recipes is during the first few weeks and months after birth. Breast milk provides these nutrients and your baby should feed multiple times throughout the day. And, make sure to plan in advance with pumping if you know you are going to be away from your baby.
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