Feeding is one of the first activities you'll do with your little one, and you'll spend lots of time doing it as a new parent! Whether your baby is formula-fed, breastfed, or eating solid foods, feeding them the right amount is vital for their development.
Read on to learn more about how much breast milk, formula, and solid food you need to keep your baby healthy at any age.
From the experts: baby feeding
'It is important to remember all babies are different―some like to snack more often, and others drink more at one time and go longer between feedings. However, most babies will drink more and go longer between feedings as they get bigger and their tummies can hold more milk.'
- Sanjeev Jain, MD, Healthy Children
In this article:
Breast milk feedings and amounts by age
Formula feeding and amounts by age
Solid food feedings and amounts by age
Baby feeding FAQ
Breast milk feedings and amounts by age
Though breastfeeding has a whole host of benefits, from providing bonding time with your baby to giving them all the nutrients they need to grow and develop, it can be tricky to know how much they're actually drinking if you aren't pumping!
If you're feeding your baby directly from the breast, they'll likely want to eat little and often at first - every 1-3 hours for the first few weeks. As they get older, this will decrease to longer feeds every 2-4 hours, and you may include a stretch of time between feedings at night as your baby sleeps.
Once they reach 6 months of age and you start introducing solid food into their diet, the amount of breastfeeding and ounces of milk per feeding will vary depending on how much food they're eating.
If you're choosing to primarily pump breast milk, you'll likely find it a lot easier to figure out just how much milk your baby is getting. However, this doesn't mean you know the correct amount for each age! To help you out, we've created a table stating how much breast milk to give your baby and how often:
|Age||Time between feedings||Ounces per feeding|
|0-1 Month||2-3 hours||1-3 ounces|
|1-3 Months||3-4 hours||3-4 ounces|
|3-6 months||4-6 hours||4-8 ounces|
|6-9 months||4-6 hours||6-8 ounces|
|9-12 months||5-8 hours||7-8 ounces|
Remember that this table is only a rough guide - your baby is unique, and they might be perfectly healthy eating more or less than described here.
If you're unsure that your baby is consuming the right amount of breast milk, you should consult your pediatrician for more advice.
Formula feeding and amounts by age
As well as being more convenient for many parents and more accessible for dads, formula-fed babies can also be easier to feed the correct amount as you can more effectively measure how much they're eating.
Generally speaking, formula-fed babies tend to take fewer feedings than breastfed babies and will eat more in a single feed, but this might be different for your own baby!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby has around 2 1/2 oz of formula per day for every pound of body weight - a baby who weighs ten pounds will therefore need 25 ounces in a 24-hour period, for instance.
To make it easy, we've put together a table with the recommended amounts of formula according to your baby's age:
|Age||Time between feedings||Ounces per Feeding|
1 to 2 ounces
2 weeks - 2 months
Once again, you might find that your baby can't quite drink as much formula as this table says, or that they cry for more milk between feedings.
Ultimately, you should always follow your baby's lead when it comes to their basic needs - they know how much milk they need to drink better than a chart does! Therefore, just use these tables as a rough guide that you can adjust later down the line if you need to.
Solid food feedings and amounts by age
Once your baby is 6 months old, they'll have reached some of the developmental milestones that mean they can start eating solid food. These include sitting up independently, bringing food to their mouth, controlling their head and neck, and successfully swallowing food by pushing it to their throat.
As you already know, you can't feed your baby a full three-course meal right off the bat - you need to start slow with foods that are easy for them to eat and digest.
For instance, you can try starting them off with mashed or pureed single-ingredient foods such as mashed apples or carrots.
This is also the time when allergies might come to light, so be mindful of what you're feeding your baby in case they have any kind of reaction, and consult your doctor if you notice anything wrong.
Here is a table of how much solid food you should give your baby at each age - bear in mind that these amounts should be supplemented with breast milk or formula, and that the amount of food you give them will depend on this ratio.
|Age||Type of food||Amount of food||How often|
|6-8 months||Fruit and vegetables||1-4 tbsp||1-2 times per day|
|6-8 months||Cereal||1-4 tbsp||1-2 times per day|
|8-9 months||Fruit, vegetables, cereals||5-10 tbsp||2-3 times per day|
|8-9 months||Proteins||2-6 tbsp||Each day|
|9-12 months||Fruit, vegetables, grains||Up to 1/2 cup||2 times per day|
|9-12 months||Dairy||Up to 1/2 cup||Each day|
|9-12 months||Protein||Up to 1/2 cup||Each day|
However, as any parent can tell you, babies rarely eat exactly the right amount whenever they're told! Your baby's appetite will likely fluctuate each day, and it's important to not force food down them when they aren't feeling hungry.
Instead, you should teach them to trust their own feelings and instincts, so that they understand their own hunger better when they grow into childhood.
If you want an idea of how to work foods like this into your baby's diet, here's an example of what your baby might eat in a day:
|Breakfast||Oatmeal with pureed fruit|
|Lunch||Lentil soup with boiled carrots|
|Dinner||Mashed potato with tuna mayo|
|Snacks||A couple of tablespoons of yogurt, smoothie, or applesauce|
Of course, the menu is up to you, and you may even find that your baby can eat slightly altered versions of dishes that you might eat yourself!
Baby feeding - key takeaways
When it comes to feeding your baby, things can get a little complicated; from choosing between breast milk and formula feeding to knowing how much milk to feed your baby and keeping on top of the milk supply, it isn't always simple! But don't worry - here are the most important points we've talked about today when it comes to feeding your little one:
Your baby's stomach starts out tiny and starts to grow quickly, so expect to start with more frequent, smaller feedings before moving onto larger amounts with longer stretches of time in between
Formula-fed babies on average take fewer feedings per day than breastfed babies and will eat a little more in a single sitting
Babies can begin eating some solid foods from 6 months, but you should start slow with pureed single-ingredient foods to work out their likes and dislikes, as well as any potential allergies
You should pay attention to your baby's unique needs and feed them when they're hungry - while tables can be useful to give you a rough idea of how much babies eat on average, it's fine if they don't 100% apply to your little one's own habits!
Most asked questions about baby feeding
How many ounces of pumped breastmilk should a newborn eat?
When your baby is first born, their stomach is only the size of a marble, stretching out over the first few weeks of their life. This means that they should be fed little and often - around every two or three hours. If you're bottle-feeding your newborn baby, you should only give them 0.5 ounces of breast milk during each feeding for the first few days of their life, gradually increasing the amount as their stomach capacity (and hunger) grows.
How do I know if my baby needs more ounces?
A general rule of thumb is to feed your baby when they're hungry and crying out for more food- though tables and statistics can be helpful, your baby is unique, and you should always put their needs above following a strict routine that may only work for some parents.
If your baby needs more milk, there's a good chance they'll let you know by crying more frequently. Remember, a hunger cry is rhythmic and repetitive, almost like a siren, and your baby may also turn to your breast or raise their hand to their mouth.
How do you calculate how many oz a baby should drink?
The recommended milk intake depends on whether they're drinking breast milk or formula. For formula-fed babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that your little one should drink two and a half ounces of formula for every pound of body weight. When it comes to pumped breast milk, you might find that your baby drinks this amount in more frequent, smaller feedings.
On the other hand, it can be difficult to figure out how much milk breastfed babies are drinking during each feed, so you may want to feed them according to their own natural rhythms and when they become hungry.
How much does the average 2-month-old drink?
At 2 months old, your baby will typically be drinking around 2 ounces of breast milk or formula during each feeding, and having each feeding every 3 or 4 hours per day. This adds up to around 12-16 ounces of milk per day!
However, if your own 2-month-old is drinking more or less than this, that doesn't mean that you need to worry. Every baby is different, and as long as they're healthy and have a good appetite, you don't need to worry too much about the exact amount they're drinking. If you're concerned about their eating habits, you should contact your pediatrician for medical advice.
Is 6oz too much for a 2-month-old?
Generally speaking, a 2-month-old baby will drink about 2 ounces of milk per feeding, adding up to around 12-16 ounces of milk per day, so 6 ounces all at once may be a little too much for their stomach to handle.
But if your baby prefers fewer, larger feedings, then 6 ounces might make sense - at the end of the day, it's all about what works for your baby and your family, rather than what statistics and charts say you should do. After all, you know your little one best!
When should my baby eat 4 oz?
The amount of breast milk or formula your baby eats in a single feed will increase as they grow and develop. For instance, while a newborn can only stomach a teaspoon or so of milk during their first feeding, this will increase to 2 whole ounces by the time they're 2 weeks old!
Broadly speaking, your baby will be able to eat 4 ounces per feeding by the time they're 3 or 4 months old, but don't take this number too seriously. All babies are unique, and while one parent might find that their 5-month-old can just about manage 4 ounces, another might discover that their baby wants more than this at 3 months!
How much milk should I be producing for a 3-week-old?
At 3 weeks old, your baby should be drinking around 2 ounces of milk per feeding every 3 or 4 hours, though your baby's milk intake might vary according to factors like their weight and whether they're drinking breast milk or formula. In terms of milk production, you should aim to pump between 25 and 35 ounces of breast milk within a 24-hour span if you're exclusively pumping.
However, it's worth noting that this isn't possible for every woman, and that not all parents have access to breast milk, so don't worry too much about what you 'should' be doing. All that matters is that your baby is happy and healthy, whether that's through breast milk or formula!
Is it OK to formula feed instead of breastfeeding?
Absolutely! Here's a saying we love to use instead of breast is best: fed is best. Many women struggle to breastfeed for a wide range of reasons, while single fathers or adoptive parents may not have the option at all. There are many benefits to breastfeeding, but your baby being healthy is what's important - if you need formula to reach that goal, then definitely use it.
Is it OK to feed a swaddled baby?
Absolutely! If your baby is waking up from a nap hungry, or wanting to be fed before she goes to sleep, leaving them in the swaddle makes the most sense for many parents and is perfectly safe to do. In fact, swaddling your baby before you feed them makes sense for many parents as it helps them to calm down, which is especially useful if they're going to be put to bed right after!
If you're looking for a swaddle to help soothe your newborn to sleep, we can't recommend our own Zen Neo swaddle pod highly enough! A womb-like shaped pod that helps to ease your baby's transition to the big new world around them, this swaddle also features a gently weighted pad to mimic your soothing touch and help your little one fall asleep all by themselves.
Should I swaddle my baby before or after feeding?
This really depends on what makes sense for your own baby! For instance, while some babies may become too sleepy and cozy to eat after they've been swaddled, others may become agitated if you try to swaddle them right after they've been fed. Every baby is different, and your swaddling habits will likely reflect this, so do whatever works best for you and your little one!
Should I unswaddle for dream feed?
If you don't already know, a dream feed is when you feed your baby while they're still pretty much asleep, but just awake enough to be able to latch on and drink. A well-timed dream feed can prevent other wakeups throughout the night, meaning more sleep for both you and your baby - if you want to know more, check out our blog all about dream feeds!
Because you want your baby to remain mostly asleep during the feeding, you'll want to disrupt them as little as possible - therefore, removing them from the swaddle likely isn't the best move, as it's almost certain to wake them up! On the other hand, if they aren't awake enough to latch, you may want to unswaddle them as a way of waking them up a little more - it's all about finding the right balance of awake but drowsy.
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