A worry many (first-time) parents are struggling with: Does my baby eat enough? There is no magical answer to this question as it depends on many different factors: what is your baby’s weight, age or appetite. Once your little one eats solids the amount of solids will also influence the need for formula. But how can you know how much you should give your baby, or how much formula you should give to the babysitter, or how much formula you should buy? Luckily, there are some basic guidelines and general tips that can help you figure out how much formula is right for your baby.
As a rule of thumb, infants under 6 months who haven’t started solids should be taking 2 to 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight over a 24 hour period. As an example: Your baby weighs 8 pounds and is 5 months old; You’ll want to provide between 16 and 20fl oz (591ml) formula throughout the day and night.
In general babies are very well capable of showing when they are hungry or when they are full. Always keep in mind that every baby is unique and develops at their own pace. If your baby finishes the bottle quickly and immediately starts looking for more it clearly shows they want more and are still hungry. Or if your baby becomes distracted or begins to fidget this can be a clear sign that they are finished. You should never try to push your baby to finish a bottle. As your little one is developing so much in the first years of their lives growth spurts happen quite regularly. A growth spurt can cause your little one to be more hungry then normal as it just takes a lot of energy to learn all this new stuff.
There are many different ways to judge if your baby is getting the right amount of formula. One of the most important things to keep track of is if your baby is gaining weight at a healthy rate. Keep in mind that newborns will generally lose about 10% of their birth weight in the first 5 days. After this they should steadily grow about half an ounce a day until around 3 months. Between 3 and 6 months babies should grow around an ounce a day. Checking in regularly with your pediatrician can give you the assurance your baby is getting enough formula as they can monitor your babies growth curve properly.
Besides the weight gain other signs that can help you is by checking your baby’s mood after a feeding, see if they are happy, content and relaxed? And keep track of diaper changes, as a general rule, formula fed babies will need approximately 5 to 6 diaper changes a day. More if you use cloth diapers as these are thinner and require more changing in general.
Are you concerned that your baby is drinking too much? If you feel your little one is drinking too much ask your pediatrician to check on your little ones growth curve, he/she will be able to tell you whether or not your baby might be feeding too much.
The maximum amount of formula that your baby should be drinking every 24 hours is 32 fl oz (946ml).
Signs to look out for when you are concerned about too much formula:
Overfeeding can happen when you feed your baby when they are not actually hungry, but are maybe just bored, in need of attention, or maybe needs to burp. If your baby is gaining weight very rapidly check in with your pediatrician to find out. Your pediatrician can help you find alternatives to defaulting to another bottle, like cuddling and playing with your baby.
Being able to tell when your baby is hungry can help prevent over or under feeding. Babies can be pretty good at letting their parents know they are hungry. Look for cues from your baby such as:
Most hunger cues are given by your baby through their mouth movement. However, crying can also be an indication of hunger. It usually means they have been hungry for a while. But crying can certainly mean other things as well, such a looking for cuddles (babies have a natural need for physical contact) or wanting to be picked up, being hot or cold, or have a wet diaper.
The more time you spend with your baby the better you will understand your little one. And the older your baby gets the better they can give you signs.