Volume of breastmilk when bottle-feeding

Volume of breastmilk needed when bottle feeding. via lactationlink.com, a lactation consultant's blog.

I held a Q&A last week on Instagram, and many Moms asked me about how much breastmilk to feed their baby when bottle-feeding. This is a valid concern because many of us will be separated from our infants at some point due to returning to work, travel, or a night out. When we are breastfeeding, we can’t see the volume the infant is receiving. This is why many women constantly worry about their supply. Some great indicators that your supply is just fine are wet/messy diapers, baby is content between feeds, appropriate weight gain, etc.

volume of breastmilk needed when bottlefeeding via lactationlink.comIt is impossible for anyone to say how much milk an infant will want at any given feeding. A small baby will consume anywhere from 2-4 ounces, 8-12 times, in a 24 hour period (1). Another good rule of thumb early on is an ounce per month old the infant is. From there, the caregiver will start to gauge how much the infant needs at a feeding. Chances are, an older breastfed infant won’t consume 8-9 ounces during a feed like their formula-fed counterparts. Why? Because the energy components of breastmilk are utilized more efficiently than formula, so less is required. Keep in mind, even breastfed babies will consume more volume when breastmilk is offered in a bottle rather than the breast. This is due to the faster flow rate of a bottle.

volume of breastmilk needed for bottlefeeding via lactationlink.comTips to use when offering a breastfed baby a bottle to avoid overfeeding:

  • Using the slowest flow nipple available
  • Holding the baby in a more upright position to let gravity slow the flow
  • “Pacing the feed”, taking short breaks to allow the infant to realize when they’re satisfied

Also, remember that the baby is the most efficient remover of milk so when you are reunited, allow your infant to feed often to ensure the maintenance of a good milk supply! I hope this helps all of you that were asking.

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Thanks for stopping by,


Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC



1. Mohrbacher, N., & Stock, J. (2003). La Leche League International The Breastfeeding Answer Book (3rd edition). Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International.