As babies grow and their stomachs can hold more milk, they drink more at each feeding and can go longer between feedings. Below are some guidelines for feeding, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Your baby will let you know when he or she is hungry. The cues can be pretty obvious:
- Sticking his tongue out
- Turning her mouth and head toward your breast
- Putting his hand into his mouth repeatedly; sucking on the hand, clothing, etc.
- Fussing or crying
Newborns generally eat every 2 to 3 hours (8 to 12 times in a 24-hour day). In the first day or 2 after birth, a newborn may only drink half an ounce per feeding. This increases to 1 or 2 ounces per feeding and then to 2 or 3 ounces by 2 weeks of age.
At 2 months, babies drink 4 or 5 ounces per feeding, every 3 to 4 hours.
At 4 months, babies take in 4 to 6 ounces per feeding
At 6 months, babies drink up to 8 ounces every 4 to 5 hours, which is generally the amount they’ll drink going forward. Solid foods usually start at about 6 months of age.
Bottle-fed babies may be more likely to overfeed, because it’s easier to drink from a bottle than from the breast. Overfed babies may have gas, spit up or vomit, or have stomach pains. Follow the feeding amounts listed above to prevent overfeeding.
Try using a pacifier if your baby continues to fuss after a feeding; he or she may just want the soothing that sucking provides. The AAP advises waiting until 3 to 4 weeks of age before offering a pacifier, to ensure that breastfeeding is well established.
If your baby isn’t gaining enough weight for his or her age (doubling his birth weight by 5 months and tripling by the first birthday), talk to your child’s healthcare provider. You may need to feed your baby more frequently, even if it means waking him or her to do it.
Diapers can tell you whether your baby is getting enough to eat. Newborns should have 2 to 3 wet diapers a day in the first few days after birth. After the first week, they should have at least 5 to 6 diapers a day.
If you’re concerned about your baby either overfeeding or underfeeding, be sure to talk with his or her healthcare provider.