Wondering how much breastmilk should I send to daycare is something every pumping mother tries to figure out when preparing bottles for their baby’s feeding schedule. Read on as I share calculations and more to take the anxiety out of daycare preparations for your little one.
Send the right breastmilk amount to daycare by factoring in baby’s age, weight, feeds, daycare hours, and growth spurts. For a 6-month-old on 4-hour feeds during 7-hour daycare, pack 3 bottles (24 oz. total), including the one spare bottle that most daycares recommend to ensure a well-fed baby during growth spurts.
- You can send frozen or fresh breastmilk to daycares as long as it’s kept cold during transit and it’s refrigerated at the facility.
- Feeding milestones based on your baby’s age plus the number of hours they spend at daycare helps you to calculate the right amount of breastmilk to send every day.
- Knowing the daycare breastmilk policy helps you to prepare in advance for your baby’s feeding needs.
- Handy preparation tips include thawing frozen breastmilk the night before, using the right-sized bottles and labeling them plus placing them in a cooler bag during transit.
Can you send breastmilk to daycare?
Breastmilk can be sent to daycares if frozen or cold when in transit from home to the facility. Daycares need to know how to store and handle breastmilk properly so it’s safe for your baby and this includes thawing frozen milk safely before bottle-feeding.
Freshly expressed breastmilk that hasn’t been frozen must be used within 48 hours and all milk must be stored in a refrigerator at 40℉. Thawed frozen breastmilk should be consumed within 24 hours.
How much breast milk should you send to daycare?
Consider how much your baby usually feeds
How much breastmilk to pack for daycare depends on how much your baby normally feeds, their age, weight, and how long they stay away from home. Keeping a record two to four weeks before your baby starts daycare will help you get an estimate of how many feeds your little one has during the day. You’ll also be able to ascertain how much breastmilk they’re drinking per feed.
However, this amount will change as your baby grows older and reaches new feeding milestones.
Consider your baby’s feeding milestones
Most babies follow a similar feeding pattern and knowing which milestone they’re at helps you to know how many ounces of breastmilk for daycare you need to pump. The following is an estimate of how much breastmilk a baby drinks per feed based on their feeding milestone:
- 0 to 1 month: 1 to 3 oz. every 2 to 3 hours (8 – 12 feeds per day)
- 1 to 3 months: 3 to 4 ozs. (6 – 8 feeds per day)
- 3 to 6 months: 4 to 8 ozs. (4 – 6 feeds per day)
- 6 to 9 months: 6 to 8 ozs. (6 feeds per day)
- 9 to 12 months: 7 to 8 ozs. (3 0 5 feeds per day)
How do you calculate how much breastmilk you need to pump for daycare?
Calculating how much breastmilk you need to pump for daycare depends on the following:
- How many feeds your baby needs during the time they’re at daycare
- How much breastmilk they drink per feed in the same period
Based on the feeding milestones, you need to pump 8 oz. per bottle for a six-month-old baby. If your little one is drinking every four hours and spending seven hours at daycare, you need to pack at least two bottles. This means pumping 16 oz. of breastmilk for every day spent at daycare.
Most daycares will ask you to pack a spare bottle in case your baby is growing through a growth spurt and they’re hungrier than normal. In this case, you’ll need to pack three bottles for your six-month-old baby which means expressing 24 oz. of breastmilk per day.
How to prepare breastmilk for daycare?
Get the right-sized bottles
Getting the right-sized bottles ensures that the daycare staff gives your baby the right quantity at every feed. If you’re sending your three-month-old baby to daycare and they’re drinking 4 ozs. per feed, you’ll want to use 4-ounce bottles. Always fill the bottle to the right measurement if you use bigger bottles to avoid overfeeding or wastage.
Knowing how long babies use 2-8-ounce bottles helps you to use the right size depending on their age and how much they’re drinking per feed.
Consider the breast milk regulations of your daycare
Before sending your breastfed baby to daycare, ask to see their breast milk regulations or policy. A well-run daycare will stipulate how breastmilk will be stored and handled, how many bottles to pack, and what kind of feeding schedule they follow. Not all daycare facilities cater for paced feeding so consider this if this is your baby’s preferred drinking style.
Daycares may have set feeding times for all babies so factor this in when planning how much breastmilk to pack for your little one.
Calculate how much breastmilk to pump
Stockpiling breastmilk in the freezer helps to take the pressure off you when pumping milk for your baby when they’re at daycare. Calculate how much breastmilk to pump by considering how many hours your little one spends at daycare plus the number of feeds they need. Lastly, use their feeding milestone to estimate the quantity of breastmilk needed for each feed.
Use this formula to help you calculate how much breastmilk to pump per day:
Number of hours at daycare/number of feeds x quantity of breastmilk/feed = total amount of breastmilk to pump per day.
Here’s an example of a three-month-old breastfed baby spending nine hours at daycare:
9 hours/3 feeds = 3 feeds x 4 ozs/feed = 12 ozs. total breastmilk to pump per day
However, if you’re packing a spare bottle for unexpected eventualities, you’ll need a total of 16 ounces per day.
Fill your bottles
Prepare your daycare bottles the night before. Make sure the bottles are clean and dry before filling them with breast milk. If you’re using frozen milk, you’ll need to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before pouring it into the bottles.
A quick tip! You can safely store breastmilk in premium-quality plastic baby bottles in the freezer.
You can thaw frozen breast milk by placing the storage container in a bowl of lukewarm water or holding it under running warm water. Give the thawed milk a good swirl to mix the fats which may have separated during the thawing process. Don’t thaw frozen breastmilk in the microwave as this destroys essential nutrients in the milk.
Label your bottles
This step is vitally important to ensure your baby gets YOUR breastmilk and not someone else’s! You can use masking tape or customized labels that already have your baby’s name printed on them. When purchasing labels make sure they’re durable and can withstand being placed in the bottle warmer, soaking in water, and regular bottle cleaning.
Place your bottles in a cooler bag
Pack the filled bottles in a cooler bag just before you’re ready to load your baby in the car for the trip to the daycare. This keeps the breastmilk at a steady, cold temperature before it’s stored in the refrigerator at the daycare facility. Make sure the bottles stand upright in the cooler bag during transit to prevent leakage.
When can you stop sending breastmilk to daycare?
You can stop sending breastmilk to daycare once you transition your baby to infant formula or solids. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for six months but this is a personal choice for every mother.
If you decide to introduce solids after six months but still breastfeeding intermittently, you’ll need to factor this in when calculating how much milk to send to daycare.
Find out more about breastfeeding infants in this informative and educational video.
Knowing how much breastmilk for daycare is vital for your baby’s healthy growth and development and ensures you pump and send the right quantity. I’m a big supporter of being organized and preparation is key for ensuring your little one doesn’t go hungry while at daycare. In case you want to know how many bottles it translates to in terms of daycare, I covered that in another article.
And if you’re suffering from a problem, when your baby is not taking bottle at daycare, I wrote a separate article on that.
One last consideration – factor in the pros and cons of glass vs plastic baby bottles for daycare as well as silicone brands. My advice? Stick to plastic or silicone bottles for daycare and keep the glass designs for home use!