As a new mom, you’re worried about every little aspect of your new little one’s development. Is he sleeping enough? Is he warm enough? Is he eating enough? If you’re breastfeeding, the question of how much breast milk your baby needs can feel difficult to manage. If most of your baby’s feedings are at the breast, it can feel impossible to track how much he’s really eating. To help you demystify the most common breast milk consumption questions, we’ve outlined guidelines and tips to help you ensure your baby is getting just the right amount of breast milk each and every day.
How Much Breast Milk Does an Infant Need?
Between months one and six, an average-sized breast-feeding baby will consume about three ounces of breast milk. This many seem like a small quantity, but keep in mind that your baby should be eating every few hours.
How Frequently Should You Breastfeed?
Your baby will likely be hungry every hour and a half to every three hours. Never go more than four hours in between feedings, even overnight. To track your feedings, count the length of time between when your baby begins to nurse, to when the next session starts again, rather than starting to count time when one session ends.
Infants should be breastfed eight to 12 times per day during month one. During month two and beyond, your infant should nurse seven to nine times per day. Talk to your OBGYN about your baby’s unique needs. He/she will be able to help you further refine your breastfeeding schedule.
How Frequently Should I Alternate Breasts?
It’s important to alternate breasts during feeding sessions to ensure your milk supply is maintained in both breasts. Try to give your baby the same amount of milk from each breast during each feeding session. The amount of time a baby needs to spend with each breast will vary from case to case. As a best practice, try to switch breasts when you feel your baby is about half way through a feeding session, and alternate which breast you offer first at the start of each session.
What are the Signs my Baby Wants to Nurse?
When your baby is hungry, he will let you know. Crying is not the only sign of hunger. In fact, it’s a late sign, and you’ll be better off feeding your baby before he becomes hungry and fussy. Signs that your baby is ready to nurse include:
- Sticking out his tongue
- Opening his mouth
- Moving his head from side to side
- Nuzzling against the breast
- Making a suckling expression with his mouth
- Placing his fists to his mouth
What are the Signs my Baby is Full?
You’ll know your baby has comfortably had enough breast milk when his sucking becomes slow, or he simply turns away from the breast.
How Long Should Each Breast Feeding Session Last?
Every mom-baby pair is unique, so talk to your OBGYN or baby’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns regarding the average length of a breastfeeding session. Such factors that may impact the time it takes your infant to breast feed may include your milk supply, your let-down reflex (which causes milk to flow from the nipple), and if your milk typically flows quickly or more slowly. In general, babies become more efficient eaters as they get older, so your breastfeeding sessions should begin to go faster as your baby ages.
Talk to Your OBGYN and Your Baby’s Pediatrician
For any questions that you may have about breastfeeding your infant, whether it’s at day one, or 101, talk to your doctor. He/she will help you ensure your baby remains healthy, happy, and comfortably full.