As an adult, you’ve had years to establish some consistent eating patterns. So is it any surprise that Baby‘s feeding patterns will be, well, the opposite of consistent? Babies’ eating habits change a lot over the course of their first year, but the good news is that you can be fairly certain of what to expect for Baby‘s feeding schedule in the first few months after she is born.
A good rule of thumb to remember for formula feeding is that babies generally need 2.5 (74 mL) ounces of formula a day per pound of their body weight. This varies, but it’s helpful in case you ever forget how much Baby should be eating. Baby also shouldn’t have more than 32 ounces (.95 L) of formula in a 24-hour period. Of course, these rules change as children age, just like schedules do.
Birth to three months
In the first month, you won’t want to go more than four hours without feeding Baby – both through the day and through the night.
- Breastfeeding: If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be feeding Baby every two to three hours, eight to twelve times a day.
- Bottle-feeding: If you’re formula-feeding, you’ll want to feed Baby every three to four hours a day, six to eight times a day. Until Baby is four weeks old, feed her two to three ounces per feeding. At one month, three to four ounces should be good, and you can start four to five ounces at two months.
This frequent feeding may feel a little demanding, but it won’t last forever! While Baby is this age, it’s helpful and necessary to feed her this much so that she gets enough protective nutrients from breastmilk or formula. After a few weeks, you’ll start to get better at knowing when Baby is hungry. Try to notice when Baby starts rooting or lip smacking, as these are early signs of hunger. Over time, Baby will start to get better at latching and feeding, which means that feedings will go quicker too.
Four to six months
You’ll still feed “on demand”, meaning feeding when your baby gives hunger cues. Around month six, you may start to breast- or bottle-feed Baby less frequently because she will be eating some new foods. In these months, as you start to introduce semi-solid foods to Baby, you’ll still want trusty breastmilk or formula to be her main source of nutrition.
- Breastfeeding: You’ll probably want to aim to feed Baby at least six times per day if you’re breastfeeding.
- Bottle-feeding: You’ll feed Baby four to five times per day (five to seven fluid ounces each feeding) if you’re formula feeding.
Six to eight months
As Baby starts to eat a wider variety of finger foods, you’ll want to keep breastfeeding or formula feeding on demand, but fewer times a day.
- Breastfeeding: If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll encourage Baby to feed four to six times per day.
- Bottle-feeding: If you’re formula feeding, you’ll want her to feed four to five times a day, and consume between six to eight ounces of formula per feeding.
Over the first few months, Baby‘s eating habits might be unpredictable, and each month will likely come with its own challenges. But while every baby is different, the signs that Baby is getting enough to eat are the same as they are for other babies: you’ll hear Baby swallowing when she feeds, your breasts will feel heavier and more full, Baby will leave poo and urine in her diaper, and Baby will seem alert, content, and active.
- “Formula Feeding FAQs: How much and how often?” KidsHealth.org. Nemours Foundation, 2016. Web.
- “Commonly Asked Questions about Formula Feeding Your Baby” Mass.gov. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2016. Web.
- “Amount and Schedule of Formula Feedings.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016. Web.