How much breast milk does a baby need?
Published November 28, 2014
Whether you’re a new mum or a seasoned professional, breastfeeding can come with its fair share of questions and challenges. One common query is how much, or how often, should a baby be breast fed to support their healthy growth and development.
Every baby is different and their feeding patterns can vary enormously. Most babies will gradually develop a pattern of feeding during their first week of life to around eight to twelve times in a 24 hour period. 1 This equates to a feed every two to three hours through the day and at night. Your milk supply tends to adjust to your baby’s needs, so it helps to feed whenever your baby is hungry. You may feel like you’re nursing around the clock but this should settle over time.
The length of a feed also varies from child to child. Some babies prefer shorter more frequent feeds while others prefer feeding for longer.2 Let your baby feed until he or she stops sucking and swallowing, and let go of your breast before you offer your second one.1
Regardless of how many feeds a baby has in a 24 hour period, what’s important to know is the signs of adequate milk intake. You can be confident that your baby is receiving enough breast milk in their first few months when:3
- He/she has six to eight wet cloth nappies or four to five disposable nappies in 24 hours.
- Has soft bowel motions, at least once a day.
- Generally settles after most feeds.
- Has bright eyes and good skin tone.
- Is gaining the appropriate amount of weight and growing as expected.
Along with regular and effective feeding, nursing mums might find it easier to meet the demands of their baby by taking fenugreek, a herb that naturally supports healthy breast milk supply.
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