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Feeding For Newborn: How Much? How Often?

By Mansi Kotwal, MD and Simrithaa KarunakaranMedically reviewed by Mansi Kotwal, MD, Board Certified Pediatrician
6 min read

Feeding newborns can seem like a daunting task. Remember that each baby is unique and has different needs, but here are some general tips to keep in mind to have a happy feeding journey.

How Much Should Newborn Eat?

Feeding 1 Week Old

At this age, your baby has a tiny belly, so prefers smaller, more frequent feedings. Your baby will likely feed 1 to 3 ounces every 1 to 3 hours. Breastfed infants often take less at each feed but they will feed more frequently than formula-fed infants. If breastfeeding, feeding frequently (every 2 hours or on baby’s demand which could be even more often) in this initial time period helps with increasing lactation and allows your baby to practice sucking and swallowing in order to efficiently empty the breast(1).

Feeding 1 Month Old To 4 Month Old

For exclusively breastfed babies, the average interval between feedings will usually increase from 1 to 3 hours to 2 to 4 hours but sometimes, they may feed as often as every hour (especially in the first month) or with gaps up to 4 hours (1). Most infants will feed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours for 10 to 15 minutes on each breast (4). 

For formula-fed babies, the average interval between feedings is 2 to 4 hours (1). Most infants will feed 6 to 10 times in 24 hours and up to 4 ounces at a time depending on their interval.  

If your baby hasn’t been fed in 4 hours during the first month of life, try gently waking your baby up to feed.  At this young age, babies can not maintain their blood sugar levels and need to be fed in order to do so. Your pediatrician can help guide you if healthy weight gain is an issue. 

Keep in mind that your baby goes through mini growth spurts (around 2-3 weeks, then 3-4 weeks, then 3, 4 and 6 months) and during that time their feeding demand will increase.  

How Much To Feed Newborn

Your baby’s milk needs should roughly increase by about 1 ounce per feeding per month until they reach a maximum of 7 to 8 ounces per feeding. In 24 hours, your baby should not be drinking more than 32 ounces (3). If you notice your baby’s average feeding needs falling under or over this rough estimated amount, please talk to your pediatrician. 

Normal Newborn Weight Gain

In the first 3 months of life, your baby should be gaining about 25 to 30 grams a day or approximately 1 ounce per day. This is about 1 pound (16 ounces) every two weeks (2).  For most parents, there is no need to regularly weigh your baby at home, unless indicated by the doctor. During this time period, you will be seeing your child’s pediatrician frequently so they can monitor growth and development.  

Feeding For 6 Month Old

At 6 months, both breastfed and formula-fed infants can be introduced to solid foods. However, breastmilk and/or formula still remain their primary source of nutrients. It is natural for your infant to start gradually decreasing their breast milk or formula intake as solids are introduced, but it still remains a staple part of their diet until 12 months of age (1). 

At 6 months, infants drinking formula milk should consume 6 to 8 ounces of formula over 4 to 5 feedings in 24 hours. This can total anywhere between 24 and 40 oz in one day.

Related: Formula Shortages: Where To Buy

A general rule is that your baby should be consuming about 2.5 ounces of formula a day for every pound of body weight. This is just a rough estimate, as each baby’s feeding needs are unique, so base your baby’s feeding schedule on cues your baby gives and guidance from the doctor (3).

How Much To Feed Newborn : Overall Recommendations

Below are suggested guidelines to follow when determining how much to feed your baby. Remember your baby is unique and these are only suggestions. Always discuss your newborn’s care with their pediatrician.

0 to 1 week

  • Breast milk or infant formula 1 to 3 ounces every 1 to 3 hours.

1 week to 4 months

  • Breast milk or infant formula (2 to 4 ounces); Feedings per day: 8 to 12, about every 2 to 3 hours

4 months to 6 months 

  • Breast milk or infant formula (6 to 8 ounces); Feedings per day: 4 to 6, about every 3 to 4 hours

6 months to 8 months

Only introduce solids below if your child can break down food and swallow appropriately. Talk to your doctor about when and how to introduce nutrition beyond breast milk and formula. 

  • Breast milk or infant formula (6 to 8 ounces); Feedings per day: 3 to 5, about every 4 to 5 hours
  • Infant cereal (2 to 4 tablespoons)
  • Crackers (2); bread (1/2 slice)
  • Water (0 to 3 ounces)*
  • Fruit or vegetable (2 to 3 tablespoons)
  • Meat or beans (1 to 2 tablespoons)

8 months to 12 months

Only introduce solids below if your child can break down food and swallow appropriately. Talk to your doctor about when and how to introduce nutrition beyond breast milk and formula. 

  • Breast milk or infant formula (6 to 8 ounces); Feedings per day: 3 to 4, about every 4 to 5 hours. Your baby may be sleeping through the night by this point, and not wake for feedings, and may need to feed more often during the day. 
  • Cheese (1/2 ounce) or yogurt (1/2 cup)
  • Infant cereal (2-4 tablespoons); bread (1/2 slice); crackers (2); or pasta (3 to 4 tablespoons)
  • Water (3 ounces)*
  • Fruit or vegetable (3 to 4 tablespoons)
  • Meat or beans (3 to 4 tablespoons)

*Healthy babies require little or no extra water for hydration.  However, in extremely hot temperatures or sometimes after solids are introduced, they may need some water. Water should not be fed to infants less than 6 months. If your baby consumes too much water, it may discourage them from drinking breast milk or formula which is more nutritious than water. 

During the first few weeks, your baby is rapidly growing. Dynamic changes in their feeding schedule is necessary to supplement them with enough nutrients during this growth period. Each baby is unique so try experimenting through this feeding journey to find what works best for you and your baby. Although it might be hard at times, it is a chance to get to know your baby better. If you ever have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your baby’s pediatrician. 

Happy feeding!

Sources

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/breastfeeding/how-much-and-how-often.html
  2. https://pedsinreview.aappublications.org/content/38/10/449
  3. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/formula-feeding/Pages/Amount-and-Schedule-of-Formula-Feedings.aspx
  4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9693-feeding-your-baby-the-first-year

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