By Ali Weatherford

Understanding how much your baby should be eating is a great goal, but there is no simple answer.  Like so many things in parenting, the answer is, “it depends.”  Are you breastfeeding or bottle feeding?  Are you using formula or breastmilk?  Is your baby gaining weight?  Is your baby making the appropriate amount of wet and dirty diapers?

Babies can be so different from each other, and your feeding methods matter a lot too.  New parents often spend some energy worrying about whether their baby is getting enough nutrition; that’s totally normal. Fortunately, most of the time things go well. Not all babies follow feeding guidelines perfectly, but even when they don’t, most of them still grow and thrive without any need for intervention.  So, try to relax!  You care enough to be reading this article and that is a great start.

If you’re feeding directly from your body

When breastfeeding, it’s very hard to overfeed your baby.  The baby has to do some work to get milk, and the milk doesn’t just flow freely.

There are different stages of milk production.  When a baby first attaches at the nipple, there may not be a reservoir of milk just waiting to be pulled out.

A baby first needs to stimulate that milk to be made and released by suckling. That nipple stimulation triggers the milk “let down” and then they start to get something out for their efforts. Once they completely finish off the milk in one breast, they may either still be hungry and want to move on to the other breast, or they may lose interest because they are satisfied.

If a baby is still hungry after feeding from both nipples, they may stay on longer or want to get right back on to stimulate another letdown. This process happens sometimes as our babies are growing. It’s called cluster feeding.  It can feel very frustrating, but it’s normal, and this is how our milk supply increases. Our bodies learn that amount was not enough, our baby is still here asking for food, so next time we’ll have a little more milk when it starts flowing.

This chart can give you a general idea of what to expect, but remember that there is some room for variation. The best thing is to watch for signs that your baby is getting the right amount of milk. Here is our recent article on how to tell if things are going well and what to watch for.

Feeding from the Breast
How Old?   How Much Per Feeding?     How Many Feeding/Day  
 0-2 days  .5-1 fl oz  8-12 times per day (24 hrs)
 2 days-2 weeks  1-2 fl oz  8-12 times per day (24 hrs)
 2 weeks-2 months  2-3 fl oz  8-12 times per day (24 hrs)
 2 months  4-5 fl oz  Every 3-4 hours
 4 months  4-6 fl oz  Every 3-4 hours
 6 months  7-8 fl oz  Every 4-5 hours


If you’re feeding breastmilk from a bottle

There is a lot of variation when feeding with breast milk from a bottle. The nutritional content of breast milk varies. Some breast milk has higher fat and calorie content than others. When bottle feeding using breast milk, you’ll want to pay pretty close attention to the baby’s hunger cues. When the bottle is empty, does the baby still seem hungry? By being very attentive to your baby’s feeding habits, you can start to get a pretty good idea of how much it usually takes for your baby to feel satisfied and plan your baby’s bottles accordingly. Start with a smaller amount, and add milk as you need to. Also, see the chart above for some basic guidelines.

It’s also important to use the Paced Bottle Feeding Method when feeding breast milk from a bottle so that your baby doesn’t get too much too fast, making it more likely your baby will overeat.

If you’re feeding formula from a bottle

With formula, it can be easy to overfeed, so it’s a good idea to use some of the recommendations set out by dieticians. It’s also important to use the Paced Bottle Feeding Method to avoid overfeeding when using formula.

Feeding Formula from a Bottle

How Old?

  How Much Per Feeding?  

  How Many Feeding/Day  

  Birth-1 Week   2-3 fl oz  6-10 times per day
1 Week-1 Month   2-4 fl oz  7-8 times per day
 1-3 Months   4-5 fl oz  5-6 times per day
3-6 Months   6-7 fl oz 4-5 times per day
6-9 Months   7-8 fl oz  3-4 times per day
9-12 Months   7-8 fl oz  3 times per day


This table shows recommended amounts of formula to feed babies at all different ages. There is still some variation in these recommendations to account for babies of different sizes and hunger levels. A baby younger than one week might get full after just 2 oz. of formula, or might show you they need a little more and actually eat 3 oz. before they’re satisfied. That same baby might eat less often, so only 6 times a day, while another baby might want less at each feeding but might want to eat more often. So, use these numbers as guidelines, but also be sure to pay attention to what your baby is telling you. Formula-fed babies usually need to eat less frequently than breastfed babies because it takes a little longer to digest.

By using your baby’s behavior and these guidelines as a gauge, you will learn to understand what is normal for your baby at various ages and stages.

But for more information about breastfeeding or using infant formula, consider taking our formula class, BABY FORMULA 101: What You Need To Know, led by Registered Dietician, Janel Davis, or BREASTFEEDING 101: Introduction To Breastfeeding. You may also benefit from our free New Parent Support Group which meets weekly online.

Our articles are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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