RD, LDN, CBS
Certified in Maternal and Infant Nutrition from Cornell, Angela’s mission is to help people reach their wellness goals. She also helps run a program that teaches pregnant women about how a healthy lifestyle optimizes prenatal and postnatal care.
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When it comes to feeding your baby, responding to your baby’s hunger cues and feeding on demand is best. But as parents we often want more specific guidance, especially when it comes to how many ounces of formula we should be feeding our baby each day. How much is enough? How much is too much? Let’s set the record straight.
During the first 6 months when solid foods are not yet in the picture, there’s a simple rule of thumb to figure out how much formula your baby needs:
1) Offer 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight each day.1, 7 Remember that your baby may periodically take more or less than this amount depending on their hunger and growth spurts.
Here is an example for a baby who weighs ten pounds: 10 pounds x 2.5 ounces = 25 ounces total per day
2) To figure out the number of ounces per bottle, divide this number by the number of feedings your baby has in a day.
If your baby feeds 8 times per day, you would divide 25 by 8, which comes out to a little over three ounces per feeding: 25 ounces total per day / 8 feeding times per day = 3.12 ounces per feeding
Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Preparing and Storing Infant Formula
Learn about: Formula Preparation: What Type of Water Should I Use?
Once your baby reaches six months of age, complimentary solid foods are introduced.2 You may find that they naturally take a little less formula as they get closer to 1 year.3 This is normal!
Just remember, formula and/or breastmilk should remain the primary source of nutrition, with solid foods secondary to that, up until your baby is one year old.4
Read more: Introducing Solids: First Foods and Textures
Want to make sure your baby is drinking the right amount of formula? Ask our Happy Baby Experts, who are registered dietitians and infant feeding experts, for free. Chat now!
Sources: 5, 6, 8
*Note that The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests babies should not be drinking more than 32 ounces of formula per day.1 If you notice your little one is taking in more than this, reach out to your pediatrician to discuss.
Keep in mind, each baby is different and the above formula amounts are just averages. Babies’ appetites may change, just as ours do! Your baby may eat more or less on any given day.
By responding to your baby’s hunger cues (sucking on hands; opening and closing mouth; rooting) and fullness cues (starts and stops the feeding often; unlatching or spitting out the nipple; fidgets and is distracted; closes mouth), you will be giving your baby exactly what they need.9
Read more: Understanding Your Baby’s Hunger and Fullness Cues: Responsive Feeding
This method of bottle-feeding helps prevent overfeeding by putting your little one in control and allowing them to eat exactly how much they need.10 With a few simple steps, a slow-flow nipple, and a bit of practice, paced bottle feeding will come naturally to you and your little one.
Read about how to do it here: Paced Bottle Feeding
Your baby’s weight gain is the most important sign that your baby is getting enough formula. You’ll also want to look at diapers to know how your little one is doing.
For a newborn, look for 5 or more wet diapers and at least 1 dirty diaper per day. An older baby may have 5 or more wet diapers per day along with 1 dirty diaper every day or even every 2 to 3 days.11 Remember that every baby has a different stooling pattern, so just watch your little one’s pattern and be aware when it changes.
Read more: Feeding Tips for Healthy Weight Gain in Babies and Toddlers
Learn about: Constipation in Babies and Toddlers
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday – Friday 8am-8pm (EST), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-4pm (EST). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
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1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Amounts and Schedule of Formula Feeding. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Amount-and-Schedule-of-Formula-Feedings.aspx
2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Starting Solid Foods. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Much and How Often to Feed Infant Formula. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/formula-feeding/how-much-how-often.html
4. UNICEF. Feeding Your Baby: 6-12 Months. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.unicef.org/parenting/food-nutrition/feeding-your-baby-6-12-months
5. American Academy of Pediatrics. How Much and How Often Should Your Baby Eat? Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/english/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/pages/how-often-and-how-much-should-your-baby-eat.aspx
6. Holt K., Woolridge N. Bright Futures: Nutrition Supervision, third edition. American Academy of Pediatrics. 2011 https://brightfutures.aap.org/Bright%20Futures%20Documents/BFNutrition3rdEditionSupervision.pdf
7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Infant Formulas. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002447.htm
8. S.D Women Infants and Children. Feeding Guide 6-12 Months. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://sdwic.org/wic_library/children/feeding-guides/feeding-guide-6-12-months/
9. American Academy of Pediatrics. Is Your Baby Hungry of Full? Responsive Feeding Explained. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Is-Your-Baby-Hungry-or-Full-Responsive-Feeding-Explained.aspx
10. MN Department of Health, Women Infants and Children. Paced Bottle Feeding: Infant Feeding Series. Accessed 27 September 2021. https://www.health.state.mn.us/docs/people/wic/localagency/wedupdate/moyr/2017/topic/1115feeding.pdf
11. American Academy of Pediatrics. Constipation. Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Constipation.aspx