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How Much Milk Is Enough?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: How many ounces of milk should a six-month-old baby be having per day, considering he's on solids three times a day? I'm giving a baby cereal and egg yolk for breakfast, meat and vegetables for lunch, and cereal and fruit for supper. How much milk should be given daily?

A: I am assuming that your six-month-old baby is thriving and doing well. As you may know, it is suggested that breast milk or formula be given for at least the first year of life. It is not until after the first year of age that it is the time for parents to switch to whole milk.

Either breast milk or formula can easily be the sole source of nutrition during the first four to six months of life until that time when one tends to start solids. With solids introduced and being given in increasing amounts during the second half of the first year of life (as you describe), the amount of formula may vary. Infants around this age will take roughly six to eight ounces per feed about four or five times a day.

Each infant is unique, so I never recommend a minimum amount. It is also unusual for your baby to need much more than a quart (32 ounces) of formula in any given day. Babies are usually thirsty, and may prefer sweet-tasting juices that have less nutritional value. However, we wouldn't want to fill them up with empty calories. Everyone needs some liquids each day, but it's the nutritional value of either breast milk or formula that is most important.

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Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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