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Bottles & Boobs

How Much Formula Should My Baby Be Eating?

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Bobbie® knows the key to a happy and healthy baby is keeping them well-fed. Just like Goldilocks, you don’t want to feed your baby too much or too little—the amount of formula they’re given should be just right.

While babies will certainly tell you when they’re hungry, it’s important to understand their hunger cues and know how much organic infant formula to prepare. This article will help you determine how much formula your baby needs to thrive.

Is There a One-Size-Fits-All Schedule for Feeding?

Before we dive into the details, let’s make one thing clear: everyone’s baby is different, and that’s okay!

Your baby may eat more or less than general guidelines suggest. Above all, you need to listen to your baby and stay away from extremes. Formula feeding recommendations can be great benchmarks; just try not to worry too much if your formula-fed newborn or baby doesn’t follow them exactly.

What Are General Formula Feeding Guidelines?

Several organizations provide basic trends and guidelines supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) when it comes to formula feeding. 

A basic rule of thumb is that most infants under six months of age who only eat formula or breast milk will usually consume between two and two and a half ounces of formula per pound of bodyweight every day. 

For instance, if your baby weighs 10 pounds, they would eat between twenty and twenty-five ounces of formula. This translates to about one and a half to two ounces of formula every two hours within a weekly schedule.

Below, you’ll find the AAP’s guidelines for newborns, two months to four-month-olds, and infants six months or older. Remember: these are only general benchmarks, not hard-and-fast rules. Your baby knows their formula needs better than anyone else.

Newborns

Most newborns have pretty small stomachs. Many are even smaller than your fist! 

Naturally, this means infant formula or breast milk feedings will be pretty slow going at first. Most newborns eat about one to three ounces every two to three hours. 

Two Months to Four Months

As babies get older and their stomach gets larger, the amount of formula a baby needs changes. You may need to add an ounce or so every bottle-feeding session. 

Most babies weigh eleven to twelve pounds between months two and three, so you can expect an increased appetite around this milestone. 

By two months, babies will do most of their eating daily: around four to five ounces every three to four hours. When they get closer to the three to four-month mark, four to six ounces per feeding is quite normal.

Six Months and Older

After six months, most parents start to add solid food to their baby’s diet like cereals, yogurt, soft cheese, and pureed vegetables. Because of this amount of formula, your baby’s needs will start to decrease. The more solids they eat, the less formula intake they require.

By six months, your formula-fed baby is probably eating between six and eight ounces of formula every four to six hours. 

While these guidelines are a safe general recommendation for the amount of formula your baby should be eating, differences between formula and breast milk, developmental milestones, and individual feeding cues will affect the right amount of formula a baby truly needs.

Are There Differences In Feeding Times Between Formula and Breast Milk?

There may be some differences in best formula feeding and breastfeeding practices, but only in your baby’s first few months. 

Because formula has a slightly different consistency than breast milk, it can be a bit more filling. This is especially true for newborns. 

Although your formula-fed baby might consume fewer ounces than a breastfed baby, this doesn’t speak to any lack of nutrition. Formula is a nutritious alternative to satisfy your baby’s hunger—this is something we stand by.

On the other hand, breast milk is digested in a baby’s stomach more quickly than most types of infant formula. As a result, little ones tend to be hungrier more often on a breast milk-only diet.

If you only use formula, you may benefit from longer waits between feeding sessions during your infant’s first months. However, this difference in frequency will even out once your baby is a few months old.

Ultimately, there isn’t much of a difference between breast milk and formula feeding needs, and many parents choose to feed their little ones a combination of both.

When Is a Good Time to Feed Your Baby Formula?

While the general guidelines listed above can give you a good idea of what to expect, you should feed your baby whenever they ask! 

This seems like a simple answer, but it’s true—this process is called feeding on demand. Babies feed based on their own metrics rather than a clock, and they often use their cries to indicate hunger. Rest assured that it’s fine to feed your newborns whenever they cry from hunger. However, your newborn will develop a more routine feeding schedule as they grow. 

This may not coincide perfectly with your mealtimes at first, but it’s possible to train your little one as early as a few months old by providing formula whenever you sit down to eat.

Why Does Your Baby Seem Hungrier All of a Sudden?

Increases in a baby’s appetite are completely natural. Babies will cry for food more often in the beginning because they only feel satisfied for a couple of hours at a time. 

Not only will your baby’s stomach grow over time, but your baby may also experience a growth spurt that makes them hungrier for breast or formula milk. This is especially common at the three-, six-, and nine-month marks. During growth spurts, your baby may need extra nutrition to keep up with the changes their body is going through. 

Many infants go through growth spurts at regular intervals, so don’t be surprised if these periods of increased hunger pop up again and again. Some mothers report growth spurts as early as the first week after birth. 

Remember, don’t worry too much if your baby doesn’t have growth spurts around the timeframes discussed above—your child is an individual. Each baby’s weight gain and growth spurts will come when the time is right.

How Can You Tell If Your Baby Is Eating Enough?

Sometimes, you may worry whether your baby is getting enough formula. Changes in diet like introducing solid foods will affect the formula amounts they need in a 24-hour period, but it’s hard to know if your baby is eating enough overall.

If you’re feeding your baby whenever they’re showing signs of hunger, they’re probably eating enough. Most babies show clear hunger cues and don’t hesitate to tell you when they want to fill their tummy.

Still, babies grow at different rates, which is why regular checkups with your doctor are a good idea during the first year. Your doctor can measure your baby and ensure that they’re developing properly, easing any concerns about whether they’re getting enough formula or consuming enough vitamins and minerals.

Overall, you should only worry about whether your baby is eating enough if they don’t seem to gain weight after a couple of months. It may also be cause for concern if they don’t seem very satisfied, even after you feed them. 

These could be signs that your baby isn’t receiving enough nutrition from their formula. If you suspect this is the case, seek guidance from a trusted pediatrician. 

Are Regular Feeding Changes Normal?

Regular feeding changes are absolutely normal. 

Every parent will experience days when their babies don’t want to eat a lot and periods where they can’t seem to get enough. This can present a unique challenge to mothers who use organic baby formula (or any other type of formula) since they must prepare it in advance. 

The good news is that most infant formulas are easy to prepare, so you can usually whip up a new batch within two to three minutes. It’s good preparation and storage practice to make fresh formula for every feeding. 

You can also make a fresh batch and refrigerate it, but always discard unused formula after 24 hours. Once you begin feeding, the leftover formula should never sit out or be refrigerated for later use—remember to discard all leftover formula.

While your baby’s needs will fluctuate, they will eventually settle into a general eating schedule that you can anticipate over time.

Summary

How much formula your baby should eat depends on their unique feeding requirements. Typically, we recommend feeding on demand, which means you should feed your baby when they cry for food. 

You can avoid overfeeding or underfeeding by using the general guidelines provided in this article. Try to track your newborn’s feeding schedule as they get older and adjust accordingly. Good luck, and enjoy this precious time with your little ones! 

Sources

Recommended Feeding Guide for the First Year | Hopkins Medicine

Growth Charts – Percentile Data Files with LMS Values | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

How to Prepare Powdered Infant Formula in Care Settings | World Health Organization (WHO)

The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant's pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.
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Meet the Author

Bridget Reed, contributing writer for Milk Drunk with the expert advice of Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann

Bridget Reed is an experienced writer, editor SEO content manager and proud mom of three.

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