One of the most common concerns among new parents – and especially among breastfeeding mothers – is whether their babies are getting enough to eat. Sure, you can begin to learn a baby’s hunger cues, but their behavior can be difficult to understand early on while you’re still learning their personalities and mannerisms.
Rest assured, a newborn’s stomach size is quite small, so chances are good that your baby is getting just what he or she needs, even if mama has a low milk supply. Below you’ll find a few facts to help you understand a newborn’s stomach size.
First, it’s interesting to note that newborn babies are not born with hunger or thirst, as the mother’s placenta has nourished them appropriately right up until the time of birth. After several hours, your baby will likely be ready for a first feed. For breastfeeding, mama’s bodies are producing just a tiny amount of colostrum, but it’s all that your baby requires at the moment.
Even full-term newborn babies are born with teeny-tiny everything, and that includes a miniscule stomach. Picture a shooter marble – slightly bigger than a regular marble – and that’s the size of baby’s stomach in the first two days of life.
This means they can accommodate roughly 7 ml of breastmilk or formula – less than a third of an ounce. (This is why mama’s milk won’t come in fully until day three or four – baby simply doesn’t need much yet!) At this point, the walls of a newborn’s stomach are firm and won’t yet stretch during feedings, so overfeeding will likely lead to spitting up.
Babies grow and develop rapidly, and by day three your little one’s tummy will be able to handle more at feeding time. With a capacity of about 22-27 ml, your little one can handle as much as an ounce at every feeding. By this point, a newborn’s stomach size is about the same as a ping pong ball and it has begun to develop a bit of stretch.
By day 10, your little one will be ready for even more at feeding time. At this point, your baby’s stomach is roughly the size of a golf ball, and they can eat 45-60 ml at one time – about 1.5-2 ounces. Quite a difference from just a week prior!
Your baby really hits his or her stride at one month of age. They have a stretchable tummy ready to accommodate 89-118 ml – or three to four ounces – per feeding. At this point, baby’s overall growth slows, so the stomach will remain roughly the same size until baby surpasses six months of age. Now, it resembles a large chicken egg in size.
Since a newborn baby’s stomach is so small, it’s no wonder they want to feed 10-12 times each day! Their stomachs can only hold enough to tide them over for about two hours. So, if you’ve been concerned about how often your baby is hungry – don’t be!
This is perfectly normal, and feedings will become less frequent as your baby approaches the one-month point and his or her stomach is able to stretch and store milk for a longer period of time.
While all babies are different and feeding won’t always be on the schedule you prefer, all newborns have just about the same size stomachs in those first few weeks of life. If you begin to get anxious about whether your child is getting the proper nourishment, remember that a little bit goes a long way when it comes to newborn babies. No need to worry mama; you are doing great and you got this!