It can be difficult figuring out how much milk your baby wants and needs, especially as he grows. The right amount of milk is different for each child, depending on age, weight and whether you’re using formula, breast milk, a combination or have moved onto solids.
From birth to 12 months, here’s our guide to working out just how much he needs.
How do I know when my baby is hungry?
How often your baby feeds should be up to him. Let him set the pace from the word go and he’ll rapidly settle into a routine. ‘When babies are hungry they give cues. Some smack their lips, others put their fists in their mouths and suck their hands,’ says breastfeeding expert Geraldine.
‘Offer him your little finger to suckle, nail side on his tongue and the soft pad side of your finger on the roof of his mouth. If he suckles frantically and doesn’t settle, he’s probably hungry,’ she adds.
How much milk should a newborn drink?
Your baby won't need much milk to start with as newborns have very small stomachs around the size of a cherry
However, you’ll soon realise just what a little guzzler your baby is as he increases how much he drinks. ‘By about day three, your baby is able to drink 30-40ml per feed, roughly eight times a day,’ says Geraldine.
‘By the end of the first week, he’s likely to drink 60ml per feed. This will stay approximately the same until three months, when it may drop a little. On average babies will have between 570ml to 900ml a day.’
Weaning onto the bottle
If you’re feeding your baby expressed breast milk, try a simple calculation to work out how much to offer him. ‘Simply multiply your baby’s weight in kg by 150ml and divide this number by your baby’s daily number of feeds – this will give you a low estimate of what your baby needs per feed,’ says Geraldine.
If you’re bottle-feeding your baby with formula, you can use the higher calculation for an estimate of what your baby needs as it isn’t as well absorbed or utilised by the body as breastmilk. ‘Multiply your baby’s weight in kg by 180ml and divide this number by your baby’s daily feeds,’ says Geraldine. But if your baby doesn’t drain the bottle, he has had enough and there is no reason to encourage him to finish the milk.
Six to 12 months
Once weaning’s introduced, gauging milk volumes feeds can be trickier. Between six and 12 months, the volume of milk your baby drinks varies according to how much solid food he’s eating. ‘At this age, the average milk intake remains between 500ml and 900ml a day,’ says Geraldine. ‘After 12 months, babies typically have 400ml to 500ml a day.’
How do I know my baby is full?
Your baby knows how to let you know you when he’s full. ‘It’s important to follow your baby’s cues – give him breaks after every 30ml, so he can feel himself filling up,’ explains Geraldine. ‘He’ll slow down, pause and rest down when he’s getting full.’