There are many reasons a mother may choose to use formula instead of breast milk when feeding her newborn. There are also times when mothers decide to switch from nursing to formula, as their baby gets a little older. Whether you’re breastfeeding or giving formula, it’s generally recommended that babies be fed when they seem hungry.
What kind of schedule and how much formula do formula-fed babies need? It all depends on the baby. While each infant’s appetite and needs may be a little different – there are general rules of thumb that can be helpful for moms to know.
According to Healthychildren.org, after the first few days, your formula-fed newborn will take from 2 to 3 ounces (60–90 ml) of formula per feeding and will eat every three to four hours on average during his or her first few weeks.
Occasionally, you may have a sleeper who seems to like visiting dreamland longer than most babies. If during the first month your baby sleeps longer than four or five hours, wake him or her up and offer a bottle.
By the end of his or her first month, they’ll usually be up to at least 4 ounces (120 ml) per feeding, with a fairly predictable schedule of feedings about every four hours.
By six months, your baby will typically consume 6 to 8 ounces (180–240 ml) at each of four or five feedings in twenty-four hours.
Since babies can’t communicate with words, parents have to learn how to read the signs and signals baby uses to express wants.
How do you know your baby is hungry? Here are signs baby may be ready to eat:
• Moving their heads from side to side
• Opening their mouths
• Sticking out their tongues
• Placing their hands, fingers, and fists to their mouths
• Puckering their lips as if to suck
• Nuzzling against their mothers' breasts
• Showing the rooting reflex (when a baby moves its mouth in the direction of something that's stroking or touching its cheek)
The crying signal can be confusing for parents. It doesn’t always mean the same thing. Crying is also a last resort when baby is hungry. Your baby should be fed before he or she gets so hungry that they get upset and cry. That’s why guidelines are helpful when starting out.
Most babies are satisfied with 3 to 4 ounces (90–120 ml) per feeding during the first month and increase that amount by 1 ounce (30 ml) per month until they reach a maximum of about 7 to 8 ounces (210–240 ml). If your baby consistently seems to want more or less than this, discuss it with your pediatrician. Your baby should drink no more than 32 ounces (960 ml) of formula in 24 hours. Some babies have higher needs for sucking and may just want to suck on a pacifier after feeding.
Eventually, baby will develop a time schedule of his or her own. As you become more familiar with your baby’s signals and sleep patterns, you’ll be able to design a feeding schedule tailored to your infant’s needs.
Between two and four months of age (or when the baby weighs more than 12 pounds [5.4 kg]), most formula-fed babies no longer need a middle-of-the night feeding, because they’re consuming more during the day and their sleeping patterns have become more regular (although this varies considerably from baby to baby). Their stomach capacity has increased, too, which means they may go longer between daytime feedings—occasionally up to four or five hours at a time. If your baby still seems to feed very frequently or consume larger amounts, try distracting him with play or with a pacifier. Sometimes patterns of obesity begin during infancy, so it is important not to overfeed your baby.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no “one schedule and formula amount fits all” when it comes to babies and their needs.
No one can tell you exactly how often or how much your baby boy or girl needs to be fed, but good communication with your pediatrician and learning how to read your baby’s body language will go a long way in keeping baby’s feedings on track.
Story sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Amount-and-Schedule-of-Formula-Feedings.aspx