The amount of formula a child needs is different than the amount of breast milk a breastfed child needs. Babies tend to need to eat formula less frequently than breast milk, because it takes them longer to digest formula. But how much formula should Baby be getting, exactly?
A good rule of thumb 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. Here’s some more information about what to expect in terms of formula needs as Baby grows.
Newborn to four weeks old
In their earliest weeks, formula-fed babies need small amounts of formula every few hours, throughout the day and night. This means that if necessary, you might be waking Baby up to feed. As Baby gets close to their one-month birthday, though, you might notice that their hunger starts to follow a more predictable schedule, and that they can consume more formula now at each feeding.
- Frequency of feeding: Every 2-3 hours
- Fluid ounces of formula per feeding: 2 to 3 fluid oz (59 – 89 mL)
Continue to feed Baby when you notice them showing early signs of hunger, which include rooting, lip smacking, and bringing their hands to their mouth.
- Frequency of feeding: Every 3-4 hours
- Fluid ounces of formula per feeding: 3-4 fluid oz (89 – 118 mL)
Two to three months
Baby‘s stomach capacity will increase, and they will start eating more in the daytime, and sleeping more regularly at night. This means they will start to need fewer nightly feedings (hooray!).
- Frequency of feeding: Every 3-4 hours
- Fluid ounces of formula per feeding: 4-5 oz (118 – 148 mL)
Four to five months
Make sure not to force-feed Baby, or encourage them to eat past their hunger. Follow their lead, and know that it’s normal for them to vary their formula intake at each feeding.
- Frequency of feeding: 6-7 feedings over 24 hours
- Fluid ounces of formula per feeding: 4-6 oz (118 – 177 mL)
Six to eight months
How much Baby eats at this age depends on whether you’ve started to introduce baby food. Breast milk or formula should still be the main source of food for Baby right now, but if you’ve introduced baby food or finger food, you may see their intake of breast milk or formula start to go down.
- Frequency of feeding: Every 4-5 hours, or 5 feedings over 24 hours
- Fluid ounces of formula per feeding: 6-8 oz (177 – 237 mL)
Nine to twelve months
All babies should be fed formula or breast milk for at least a full year, so don’t stop the formula quite yet! Here’s how much formula Baby will need as they get ready to celebrate their first birthday.
- Frequency of feeding: 2-3 feedings in 24 hours
- Fluid ounces (oz.) of formula per feeding: about 8 oz (237 mL)
Keep in mind that Baby will go through growth spurts, too, and during these times, they might appear more hungry than usual. Growth spurts typically happen when babies are around 7-14 days old, 3-6 weeks old, 4 months, and 6 months old, so if you notice Baby seeming hungrier at these times, you may notice them growing at a faster-than-normal pace.
Guidelines are always helpful, but don’t forget that it’s also important to pay attention to the specific signals that Baby gives when they are hungry and when they are full. They have their own set of needs, meaning that they might want less or more formula at a feeding – and that’s okay. While Baby is this young, watching them for signs of hunger or fullness is the best way to determine how often and how much they need to eat. You should also speak to Baby‘s pediatrician if you have any questions about their formula needs.
- “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.