February 25, 2008,
M.M. asks from Saratoga Springs, NY on February 22, 2008
How Many Ounces of Breast Milk for a 3-Month Old?
We sleep trained my 3-month-old son as follows: he eats at 8am, noon, 4pm, and 8pm; then, after his 8pm feeding, goes to bed. He gets breast milk, but I pump and give it to him in as bottle so I know how much he's eating. We gradually reduced and number and size of his nighttime feedings until he only ate the four times during the day. For four weeks solid -- from the time he was about 2 months until two nights ago -- he was able to go overnight without eating. He would typically wake up at around 5 or 6am, but we would change him and give him a pacifier and he'd go back to sleep until 7 or 7:30, at which point we'd stall until his 8am feeding. Then, suddenly, two nights ago he woke at 2:30am and no matter what he did would not go back to sleep. By 5 or 6am we caved and brought him into bed with us, which calmed him down for a while, and then by 7:30am we really caved and gave him his bottle early. Last night was similar: he woke at 3:15am and wouldn't go back to sleep, so we gave him a small bottle (about 2 ounces) at 5:30, and he slept perfectly until I got him up a little after 8 to start the day. He's not sleeping very well during the early part of the day (we have not sleep trained him with respect to naps yet), but then tends to sleep most of 4-8pm, which probably doesn't help him sleep at night. But I also wonder if we're giving him enough milk. During the month that he successfully went from 8pm to 8am without eating, he ate an average of 28 ounces of breast milk per day -- usually an 8 ounce bottle at 8am, two 6 ounce bottles at noon and 4pm, then another 8 ounce bottle at 8pm. Many parents I've mentioned this to seem to think this is already a large amount of milk for a 2- or 3-month old. Is it possible that he needs even more ounces during the day? Could my milk be low quality/calorie so that he needs to eat more? Or maybe he's just going through a growth spurt and does need more? My pediatrician refuses to say even roughly how many ounces he should have (she just says give him whatever he wants and if it's too much he'll spit it up), so I'd be grateful to hear how much breast milk other 3 month olds eat, if anyone happens to also pump and know the ounces. Thanks in advance.
J.Y. answers from Albany on February 25, 2008
I agree with the responses from the other mothers and I want to add that it is very important for a baby (and children of all ages) to be responsible for how much they are going to eat. Feeding schedules and monitoring ounces for such young children does not allow them to continue the ability to feel hunger and satiety. Infants need to have control over how much they eat and when. They are constantly growing and changing and their needs go along with this. Mother's milk naturally adjust over time as our babies get older but we also adjust based on how long and how often they nurse. I commend you for breastfeeding and for pumping as diligiantly as you have. I have two young children who have both been breast fed (my oldest for 12 months and my youngest is still breastfeeding at 8 months)and I had a diffiuclt time with pumping after returning to work. It takes a lot of time and commitment. Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed children and benefits all of us on so many levels. Try enjoying this time and take advantage of all the benefits you can offer yourself and your son. We are having an epidemic of overweight children in this country and this is going to have huge consequences in our society. As a registered dietitian who works with a childhood obesity prevention program I see that many children do not understand that they should eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Allow your son to maintain his ability to feel hunger and satiety and to learn that he eats when he is hungry and stops when he is full. Take care of yourself and enjoy this time - they grow so quickly!
C.K. answers from Albany on February 23, 2008
Hi M.. I do want to answer your question, but it may not be what you want to hear. Did you ever question why you are counting the number of ounces your very young baby is getting from your breast?
As a nurse (an RN) and a mother of 6 children, all breastfed, I can tell you that breast milk is very, very different from formula. WIth formula feeding it is very important that a baby receive a certain amount- too much or too little is not healthy for the baby. Breast milk is digested in a very different way than formula- it is digested more thoroughly and therefore your baby will be hungry and need more of it. It is the much healthier choice for your baby and I applaud your efforts to nurse him. Breast-fed infants can nurse freely, on-demand without mom worrying about the number of ounces he is getting. You can rely on weight gain and wet/dirty diapers to gauge whether he is being fed enough. There are so many resources and books out there for breastfeeding moms to get information on the healthiest way to nurse. The way you are nursing your son, scheduling him on your breast, is not correct on many levels- he is very young, he may need more breast milk as he grows and the composition of your milk changes from feeding to feeding (this does not happen with formula!). He may need to suck more than you are allowing him. There are many more reasons why I would encourage to you to seek out books/frineds who are knowledgeable in the area of breast milk and nursing.
Sleep training a breast-fed, very young baby is unwise. Probably it is not what you want to hear. You are wondering about the quality of your milk- scheduling and sleep training can wreak havoc on your milk supply. It is unhealthy for your baby and for your efforts to give your baby breast milk. Babies have been around a lot longer than sleep-training advisors! They do not need to be trained. The difficult part is that as mothers we need to be responsive to our babies needs, to watch and see what our babies need for life as oppose to rigid training schedules. It is very important to understand that your baby is different from your friends or neighbors baby. As a mom of six, each of my babies were very, very different even from each other!
Though there may still be people out there advocating rigid training for nursing babies, there are many more who will give you healthier advice on how to care for a nursing baby in terms of sleep and feeding.
As a new mom, it can be daunting and feel safer to hold onto a rigid schedule, but you do not need to put yourself or your child through that. Your pediatrician is pointing you in the right direction. You are fortunate to be able to stay home and be with your baby- feed him freely, let go of the schedule idea, and if you and your husband are OK with it, let him nurse by your side at night. You will sleep and so will your happy, loved baby.
If you would like to email me, I could suggest some reading material or support for nursing moms in your area.
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B.H. answers from Albany on February 23, 2008
With breastfed babies, you usually don't measure the amount of breast milk in ounces. Breastfed babies stop eating when they are full. Also, when you are not pumping and just nursing, your breastmilk in different in the mornings than in the evenings. So it is hard to give your baby the right amount of milk when you are not actually nursing. I do not believe in making a baby cry for more than 10 minutes when they are hungry. I would strongly suggest that if he is going through a grothe spurt, that you take your cues from him and not by your schedule. He is the one in charge of when he is hungry, that is something that cannot be "trained" when it comes to breastfed babies. They eat when they are hungry, plain and simple. I do not think there is anything wrong with your breastmilk. Is your son growing? Falling to sleep or getting sleepy after he has a bottle? If yes, then your breastmilk is fine and he just needs that extra feeding as breastmilk does not sustain a baby as long as formula does. I hope this helps and good luck!
M.C. answers from Albany on February 23, 2008
Sounds like your little one could be having a growth spurt. My sons does this every so often and nurses like crazy but we have never been strict about his eating times we nurse on demand and he has never taken a bottle. He does sleep through the night but occasionally does get up and we nurse and he goes back to sleep. He is 6 months old now and we have a great schedule that has occurred naturally. Perhaps he is just growing and in need of some extra food and love. I would just give in and then try and slowly get back into a routine. Good luck with everything.