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How Much Expressed Milk Will My Baby Need?

Mothers often wonder how much milk their baby drinks, and this becomes a big question for mothers once they are ready to return to work, or even begin leaving baby at home with a caregiver occassionally. The research tells us that exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 25 oz (750 mL) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. Different babies take in different amounts of milk; a typical range of milk intakes is 19-30 oz per day (570-900 mL per day). So, it is safe to assume that your baby will need 1 to 1 1/2 oz of milk per hour that you will be away. A caregiver should be made aware of this, and know that the infant should not be receiving more than this. If an infant were to recieve 2 oz per hour, that would be a pace that most mothers could not keep up with while pumping, and the infant would not be hungry for the rest of the day and thus would not be interested in nursing, causing a decrease in mother's milk supply.

Good things to tell a caregiver who will be bottle-feeding your baby are:

  • Aim for 1 to 1 1/2 oz of expressed milk per hour that mother is away.

  • Start with a 2 1/2 oz bottle, then use 1/2 oz top ups if needed after 20 mins if the baby is still showing signs of hunger. (Bottles flow faster than breastfeeding, so it takes longer for a baby to know they are full.)

  • Pace bottle feeding: give and ounce then burp, give another ounce then burp, etc until the end of the feeding.

  • Try to have a hungry (but not frantic) baby for mom to come home to so she can nurse when she arrives.

For more information, and for a handy milk calculator, check out this page on Kellymom.com!

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