It's almost impossible to measure this accurately when breastfeeding, so use frequency and duration of feeds as a guide instead. In The New Contented Little Baby Book, Gina Ford suggests a daily guide:
- 2-6 weeks: 7 feeds
- 6-12 weeks: 5-6 feeds
- 3-6 months: 4-5 feeds
A helpful checklistIf your baby doesn't drink the exact amount, don't worry - no one told him the rules! Here's a rough checklist that should show if he's getting enough nutrition in his milk:
- He has yellowy, seedy poo five times a day to begin with, slowing to an average of one a day from 3 months onwards.
- His nappy is wet and/or heavy. Hold a fresh one in the other hand and compare the weight of the two if you're unsure.
- His wee is clear. If it's yellow he could be dehydrated and not getting enough to drink.
- A bottle has the advantage of giving an accurate measure of how much he's taken.
- At the breast he should be making gulping and swallowing noises.
- He's happy after a feed and doesn't cry for more.
- He's following his height and weight chart to the satisfaction of your doctor or health visitor. And remember, it's normal to go a few weeks where there's no gain, sometimes even a small weight loss, usually followed by a growth spurt.
The Department of Health recommends that you feed nothing but milk for the first 6 months. However, some health professionals will advise that you wean as early as 4 months if your baby's particularly hungry and seems ready. Don't automatically assume that slow weight gain means it's time to wean. Early solids are less about calories and more about texture, and the calories your baby needs to gain weight well will still come from milk. You should discuss this option with your health visitor before you begin.