Category: Formula Feeding

How much formula by baby’s age

In the first week, formula-feed your newborn on demand. After that, it’s important not to overfeed your baby so he’ll stay at a healthy weight.

Most new babies want to eat every few hours. Start with 1.5 to 2 ounces at each feeding for the first week, and work up to 2 to 3 ounces every three to four hours.

As your baby gets older – and his tummy gets bigger – he’ll drink fewer bottles a day with more formula in each. By about 1 month, for example, he may be down to five or six bottles of 4 ounces every 24 hours. And by 6 months, he’ll typically be down to four or five bottles of 6 to 8 ounces per day.

He’s likely to maintain that four-to-five-bottle pace until his first birthday, when he can transition to whole cow’s milk in a bottle or sippy cup, along with three solid meals and two snacks between meals per day.

Signs that your baby’s getting the right amount of formula

These are signs that your baby’s getting all the formula she needs:

  • Steady weight gain. She continues to gain weight after her first two weeks and maintains the same pattern of growth during her first year. (Most babies lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight and then regain it by the time they’re about 2 weeks old.)
  • Happy baby. She seems relaxed and satisfied after a feeding.
  • Wet diapers. She wets five to six diapers a day if you’re using disposable diapers, or six to eight if you’re using cloth diapers. (Disposables hold more liquid.)

Worries that your baby’s getting too much or too little formula

If you’re worried that your baby is getting too little or too much formula, talk with his doctor. The doctor can check your baby’s weight and growth, tell you whether his intake is appropriate for his size and age, and advise you about any adjustments you may need to make.

How much formula your baby needs

It can be tricky to figure out how much formula to give your baby. Is he getting too much or too little? How much is enough? The answers depend mostly on how much your baby weighs and how he’s growing.

How much formula to feed your baby: Where to start

In general, babies eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. But formula-fed babies tend to be heavier than breastfed babies, appetites vary among babies, and each baby’s nutritional needs change from day to day and month to month.

Our guidelines are for babies who are exclusively formula fed for the first four to six months, and then fed a combination of formula and solids up to age 1.

Don’t give your baby more than 32 ounces of formula in a day, and once he starts eating solids, you’ll probably need to cut back on the amount of formula you feed him. Your baby’s doctor can tell you where your baby falls on the growth charts and help make sure he’s growing steadily and getting a healthy amount of formula.

Note: If your baby is getting a combination of breast milk and formula, talk to his doctor for more detailed advice.

How much formula by baby’s weight

In the first four to six months when your baby isn’t eating any solids, here’s a simple rule of thumb: Offer 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight each day.

For example, if your baby weighs 6 pounds, you’ll give her about 15 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period. If she weighs 10 pounds, you’ll give her about 25 ounces in a 24-hour period.

These numbers are not rigid rules. They give you an overall average for what your baby is likely to require. His daily feedings will vary according to his individual needs – in other words, he may want a bit more on some days and a bit less on others.

How much formula by signs of hunger

Learning to read your baby’s hunger cues will help you know when and how much formula to feed your baby.

Your new baby: If your newborn is hungry, she’ll eventually cry. But crying is a late sign of hunger. Earlier signs to watch for include smacking her lips or sucking, rooting (turning her head toward your hand when you stroke her cheek), and putting her hands to her mouth.

Changing appetites: Your baby may be hungrier than usual during growth spurts. These typically occur ten to 14 days after birth and at age 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. And your baby may be less hungry than usual if she’s not feeling well.

Wanting more: You’ll know that your baby wants more when she finishes the feeding quickly and looks around for more. If she seems hungry after her first bottle, try preparing just an ounce or two more at a time. If you make a larger amount, she may not finish it and you’ll have to throw it out.

Getting too much in a feeding: Vomiting after a feeding may be a sign that your baby had too much. (Spitting up is normal, vomiting isn’t. Find out how to tell the difference.) Tummy pain after a feeding can also be a sign of overfeeding. If your baby draws up his legs or his tummy seems tense, he may be in pain.

It’s not always hunger: Resist the urge to respond to your baby’s every whimper with a bottle. Consider the possibility – especially if you’ve recently fed her – that she’s crying because her diaper is wet, she’s cold or hot, she needs to be burped, or she simply wants to be close to you.

Bottle-feeding basics for formula-fed babies

How often should I feed my baby?

As with breastfeeding, most experts agree that you shouldn’t follow a rigid schedule in the early weeks, though you may be able to work out an approximate pattern for feeding within a month or so. Offer a bottle every two to three hours at first, or as your baby seems hungry.

When your baby is about a month old, she’ll be ready to eat on a schedule. Formula-fed infants tend to be heavier than breastfed babies, so following a feeding schedule can help prevent them from overeating.

Feed your baby once every three to four hours. Until she reaches about 10 pounds, she’ll probably take 1.5 to 3 ounces per feeding. Don’t force her to take more than she seems ready to eat. Your baby’s doctor can advise you about how much your baby should eat as she grows.

Do I need to sterilize the bottles?

Doctors used to advise sterilizing bottle-feeding supplies back when the safety of water supplies was less reliable. This isn’t as much of a concern now, but it’s best to play it safe and ask your child’s doctor if she thinks sterilization is necessary.

If your doctor recommends sterilizing your supplies before the first use, submerge new bottles, nipples, and rings in a pot of boiling water for at least five minutes. Then let them air dry on a clean towel. After that, a good hand-washing with soapy water or a cycle through the dishwasher is sufficient. (You can find handy bottle gear – such as drying racks and dishwasher baskets for nipples, rings, and bottle caps – online or at baby supply stores.)

If you have well water, or if your local health department says your tap water is unsafe for drinking, you’ll probably need to sterilize bottles before every use.

A note about plastics: Some studies have found that plastic baby bottles contain chemicals which may leach into the formula, especially when the bottle is heated. You can avoid this risk by using bottles made of stainless steel or glass. If you decide to use plastic bottles, don’t boil them, heat them in the microwave, or wash them in the dishwasher. Instead, hand wash them with a bottle brush and warm, soapy water. Learn more about the safety of plastic baby bottles.

Do I need to sterilize my drinking water for making formula?

Many parents do sterilize the water used to mix formula, especially in the newborn months, but you don’t need to unless your child’s doctor recommends it. However, if you use well water or your tap water is unsafe for drinking, you’ll need to sterilize it or use bottled water for mixing formula.

If you do choose to boil the water you use to mix formula, save yourself time by preparing enough in the morning for the whole day. Bring cold water to a rolling boil and let it boil for just one minute. Let it cool to room temperature for no longer than 30 minutes, mix enough formula for the next 24 hours, and refrigerate it immediately. Discard any formula that isn’t used within 24 hours.

What’s the best way to warm a bottle?

There’s no health reason to warm formula, though your baby may prefer it. When you’re ready to feed your baby, you can warm a bottle in a bowl of hot – not boiling – water, or by running it under the tap. You can also buy a bottle warmer designed for this purpose. Always test the formula by shaking a few drops on the inside of your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot for your baby.

If your baby is accustomed to drinking bottles at room temperature or slightly cold, you save yourself the time and hassle of preheating bottles, especially when she’s crying to be fed right now.

Caution: Never use a microwave to heat a bottle of formula. A microwave heats unevenly, so it can create hot pockets and lead to burns. Microwave heating can also cause the nutrients in formula to break down. Also, if you use plastic bottles, warm formula by putting the bottle in a bowl of warm – not hot – water or run it under warm water.

Formula Feeding

Before you start formula-feeding, get the scoop on choosing bottles and nipples to suit your little one and your family. Then, with bottles in hand, one of your first concerns will probably be how much formula is enough – and how much is too much? We’ll help you determine your baby’s needs and use formula safely. Plus: Get tips and advice for supplementing with formula if you have a breastfeeding baby.

Choosing & Using Baby Formula

If you’re formula-feeding, you may have some important questions. Whether you choose to exclusively formula-feed your little one or to breastfeed and supplement with formula, we can help you figure out how much formula your baby needs and learn how to prepare and store it safely. Plus, find out whether it’s really necessary to warm up formula before feeding it to your baby.

Bottles & Nipples for Formula Feeding

New to formula feeding? Before you shop for supplies, see our guide to choosing nipples and bottles. Then we’ll get you up to speed quickly on the basics, including when you might need to sterilize drinking water for formula, how to warm a bottle, and how to keep bottles clean. You’ll also find answers to important questions like when babies can start holding their own bottle and whether plastic bottles are safe.