How much milk does my baby need?

How much to leave?
How much to leave?

Every mom worries whether her baby is getting enough milk.

We are conscientious and analytical about our life choices. We educate ourselves and look at reviews before we purchase. We set goals and plan ahead, measuring everything.

But when it comes down to feeding baby, we have to depend on cues that are not always logical and not quantifiable. There is no gauge to measure the amount of milk a baby takes from the breast or to measure how much milk the baby left unfinished, for that matter. We can count diapers and watch the scale. But when it’s time to leave the baby in someone else’s care, we worry…is there enough?. …did I leave enough?

If you get calls from the day care provider saying they need more milk, you could only assume you didn’t leave enough. What if you got that call day after day, every day of the first week you went back to work? At the end of the week, your entire stash of frozen milk was gone. If there was ever a recipe for feeling inadequate, there it is.

Let’s say that when you do look at how much milk your baby is actually taking at daycare, you see that baby was given 22 ounces of milk in a 9-hour period one day. Wow! That’s almost an entire day’s worth of milk in just 9 hours.

This scenario happens more often than we would like. A baby used to the constant attention of mom is suddenly in a strange environment and is fussy. Daycare responds to fussy with food with a bottle that flows fast. Next thing you know, there goes your milk stash.

This is what research says: between 1 month and 6 months of age, babies take a consistent 19-30 ounces of milk per 24 hours. During this time when baby is growing rapidly and growing well, babies do not increase the average volume of milk they take each day.

It’s counterintuitive. It’s not logical. But it’s true.

-Sue Petracek, IBCLC

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