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Many new mothers are unsure about how much milk formula to feed babies. To answer
that question, you have to understand that babies are individuals with different
metabolic rates, different caloric needs and different biologic clocks.
Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
There is no mathematical formula you can follow. So, the advice is to use your instincts.
It is best you remain flexible and let your baby’s appetite guide the amount he needs.
There is no need to coax your baby to finish a bottle or stop him if he still appears
hungry. Babies eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full; babies may be
hungrier than usual during growth spurts or may eat less when they feel unwell.
In general, babies eat about eight to twelve times every 24 hours. Since breast milk
is easier to digest, breastfed babies will eat more frequently than formula fed babies.
Babies on formulas tend to eat around every three or four hours.
If you are using formula for a baby younger than 4 to 6 months, the rule of thumb
is to offer him 2½ ounces of formula per pound of body weight in 24 hours. For example,
if your baby weighs 6 pounds, you will feed him about 2½ x 6 = 15 ounces of formula
in a 24-hour period.
Regardless of which milk you use to feed, you will know your baby is having “enough”
if he wets six to eight diapers and passes stool at least three times each 24 hours
for the first four to six weeks. In addition, he should be satisfied after a feeding,
and wake at regular intervals to be fed again.
Spitting up formula at the end of the feed usually indicates your baby had more than
his stomach can hold. However if it persists, discuss with your pediatrician.
Always keep in mind that once a feeding bottle enters your baby’s mouth, any leftover
formula in that bottle must be discarded after the feeding to prevent bacterial growth
and breakdown of nutrients.
How much formula your baby needs also depends on his age. Most newborns want to be
fed every 2 to 3 hours, and about 1 or 2 ounces at each feeding for the first week
(up to 2 to 4 ounces when he reaches 1 month old).
As your baby gets older, he will drink fewer bottles a day but with more formula
in each. For example, your baby may be drinking six to eight bottles of 4 to 6 ounces
each every 24 hours.
By the time he's 6 months old, your baby is likely to drop to four or five bottles
of 6 or 7 ounces each.