Understanding the Stomach Capacity of a Newborn

Baby Feet Unnatural proportions of milk are believed by many, to be needed, for feeding a newborn baby.

I would like to put into perspective what is actually needed to fill a newborn tummy over the first few days of life.

A newborn is not thirsty or hungry at birth; the placenta has hydrated the baby for the immediate postpartum hours. The newborn’s golden hour immediately after birth is for bonding, learning how to eat out of the womb, and to start consuming that fabulous colostrum which is excellent medicinally and nutritionally.

How much is too much? Stomach sizes can vary with each baby. Their milk capacity can differ by the gestational age and size of the baby. The average stomach capacity of a newborn is about 7 mL, keeping in mind that 30 mL is 1 ounce. In the first two days of life, 2-15 mL feedings are sufficient for the baby’s well-being.

When babies are given 30-60 mL of artificial milk and are expected to consume this excessive amount, it is an unnatural and unrealistic proportion for their stomachs.

Just to give you a visual of a baby’s tummy…

Age: 1 day Amount Stomach Can Hold: 5-7 mL Comparable Object: hazelnut, thimble, glass marble, thumb nail

Age: 3 days Amount Stomach Can Hold: 22-27 mL (about an ounce) Comparable Object: teaspoon, milk ball, large glass marble

Age: 10 days Amount Stomach Can Hold: 45-60 mL (1.5-2 ounces) Comparable Object: walnut, golf ball, coffee measuring scoop


High volume feeds in the first few days of life can actually stress a newborn’s immature kidneys. That is why colostrum is a low volume, perfectly measured milk. Our bodies know what our babies need. Trust them! --------------- Disclaimer: Anticipation and Beyond uses all reasonable effort to provide accurate, up-to-date and evidence-based information for teaching and counseling purposes. All information that is written for blogs, social media posts, and websites is to be used for education and informational purposes only. All data and instruction from Anticipation and Beyond should not be intended to replace or substitute professional or medical advice from your health care provider. Direct all of your family’s concerns, questions, and health issues to your health care provider.   The information provided is not and may not be applicable to every situation. The purpose of Anticipation and Beyond providing guidance and education to new families is two-fold. The first purpose is for the intention of teaching parents about the many choices and alternatives that are available to them. The second motivation is to encourage families to dig down deep and research themselves from reliable resources that will help to enlighten their new journey.