Formula Feeding: how Much (and how Often) is Enough?
Whether your baby is breast-fed or formula-fed, it\’s normal to worry if your child is getting enough to eat after arriving home from the hospital. If you feel your formula-fed baby seems under or overfed, here\’s the first thing to know: the feeding schedule for newborns in those first few weeks isn\’t set in stone, and you should feed your baby whenever hunger strikes.
Signs of hunger include sucking fingers, smacking lips, or becoming fidgety. When you see signs that your baby is hungry, don\’t wait until the next \”feeding time\” or you will end up with a very unhappy baby.
The average amount a baby eats varies by age and weight. Newborn bottle-fed babies typically eat every three to four hours, but some will need to eat more frequently, while others will wait a bit longer. However, you should never let your baby go too long between feedings because the calories and nutrients are necessary for growth. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that in the first month, you should wake your baby if it’s been more than four or five hours between feedings. The average baby will consume between 2-3 ounces per feeding in the first few weeks of life. If it seems like your baby is still hungry after this amount, try a pacifier. Your baby may just have a desire to suck but is not truly still hungry.
After that first month, you will probably find that you and your baby are settling into a routine. He or she may stay awake longer during the day and sleep for longer periods at night, and your baby may predictably eat every three to four hours. The amount of formula per feeding will gradually increase, from about 4 oz. per feeding after the first month to 6-8 oz. at every feeding by six months old. At the same time, the number of feedings will usually decrease to only four to five per day as you introduce solids, and your baby begins sleeping through the night. Fortunately, most babies give up that middle-of-the-night feeding by about four or five months of age. By this time, your baby is consuming more calories during the day, and their stomach has increased in size so hunger lessens at night.
By about six months of age, it\’s less important to worry about exactly how much your baby is eating at every feeding. Instead, watch for cues to see if your baby is full: if they turn away from the bottle or become easily distracted by whatever else is going on in the room, your baby is probably full. In general, the AAP recommends babies shouldn\’t get more than 32 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period, so keep this in mind as you are feeding your baby, since formula-fed babies have a higher risk of overeating and extra weight gain, which can contribute to obesity later in childhood. As your baby grows and develops, it\’s important to make regular visits to the pediatrician to ensure your baby is growing and developing normally.
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Amount and Schedule of Formula Feedings.
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