When your baby first comes home, there are a lot of new things that, as new parents, you will have to learn. In some cases, it’s like cramming for an exam that starts in an hour. If you’re anything like I am, you might not even know how to change a diaper. But while we can’t help you there, a question many new parents have is how much formula they should be feeding their little one.
With that in mind, we wanted to provide you with a guide that can give you some idea of what the right amount of formula is for your baby and what to look out for when they’re getting hungry and what getting the right amount of formula looks like. So if you’re ready:
Let’s get started!
Starting to feed your baby – how much should you give them?
When it comes to feeding your little one, a baby will eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’ve had their fill. But the size of an appetite can vary from child to child as well as their nutritional needs can change day to day or even month to month. Because of this, babies who are primarily formula-fed tend to be heavier than those who are breastfed.
When you read that out loud, it sounds complicated and downright confusing to any new parent. This is why it is always a good idea to check with your baby’s pediatrician regularly and follow some guidelines, your little one will be on the right track.
During the day, you want to try and avoid giving your little one more than 32 ounces of formula. This will change once they start solid foods, so you’ll need to adjust the amount of formula they get accordingly. When you take your little one to the doctor, they will use growth charts to track your child’s progress to make sure that they are growing regularly and getting the food and nutrition that they need.
How much formula by baby’s weight
When your baby first comes home, they will be on a strictly liquid diet as their little mouths aren’t equipped to handle solid foods just yet. Many new parents can have a problem figuring out just how much formula to give their child as they grow.
Obviously, you want your little one to get bigger and stronger, but at the same time, you don’t want to give them too much or too little. When it comes to how much formula to give your baby, there is a good rule of thumb that many parents use.
During the first four to six months they after they are born, you will want to provide them with 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of their body weight each day. To make this a little simpler, think of it this way: if your little one weight six pounds, you’ll want to give them around 15 ounces of formula during a 24-hour period. Additionally, if they weigh 10 pounds, you will want to provide your baby with about 25 ounces of formula over a 24-hour period.
Now, as with anything else, these are just guidelines and not rules that are set in stone. These examples are only meant to give you an idea as to what your baby might require when they are being fed. Every baby is different and their feeding will vary based on their needs. This means that one day, they may want a lot of formula and then the next, they may want less.
Signs of hunger to watch for
When your child is very little and still a newborn, it can be a good idea to learn your little one’s cues when it comes to hunger so you know when and how much formula to feed them when they are hungry.
Your new baby: When your new little bundle of joy is hungry, they will eventually cry to let you know they are hungry. Crying, however, is a late sign of them being hungry. There are early cues to look out for including smacking her lips, sucking, putting their hands in their mouth, or rooting. Rooting is when they turn their head towards your hand while you stroke their cheek.
Changing appetites: When your little one goes through a growth spurt, they may end up being hungrier than normal. These growth spurts can typically take place within the first 10 to 14 days after they are born and then at around three and six weeks old as well as three and six months of age. While their appetite may increase at these times, if they aren’t feeling well, they may be less hungry.
Wanting more: If your child finishes their bottle quickly and looks around for more formula, that’s a clear sign that they are looking for more. After they finish their bottle, if they seem like they are still hungry, prepare just an ounce or two more at a time. You don’t want to make a larger amount right away because it is likely that they may not want it all and you will have to throw it out.
Being fed too much: If they throw up after a feeding, they may be receiving too much formula. Now, throwing up and spitting up are two different things. Spitting up is normal. The difference between them is that throwing up is more forceful and can have a greater quantity than when they spit up. If they seem distressed, it is likely that they are throwing up as spitting up doesn’t faze many babies.
If your little one has tummy pain after feeding, that can also be a sign that they are being overfed. A quick way to tell if their stomach is bothering them is if they draw their legs up or their tummy seems tense.
They aren’t always hungry: Your baby will whimper and cry a lot when they first come home, you need to try and resist the urge to respond every time with a bottle. If you’ve recently finished feeding her, consider that she might be crying for other reasons such as her diaper is wet, she’s hot or cold, needs to be burped, or just wants to be close to mom or dad.
How much formula by baby’s age
As you go along and feed your little one formula each day you’ll begin to notice something happening. Your baby starts to get older and one day turns into two and then a month and then six months of age. But you can’t keep feeding your little one the same amount of formula that you gave them on day one on day 180. So how do you figure out how much formula to give your little one as they get older?
During the first week, or so after your little bundle of joy comes home, you will want to feed your child on demand. After that initial period, you want to make sure that you’re feeding them enough to be at a healthy weight but not overfeeding them either.
Your new baby is probably going to be hungry every few hours in the beginning. Starting with 1.5 to 2 ounces per feeding is a good start. You will want to work your way up to feeding them between 2 and 3 ounces every few hours.
As they get older and their little belly starts to grow, the number of bottles that they will go through each day will go down, but the number of ounces they will want will go up.
For example, at about one month of age, your little one may drink 4 ounces per bottle every 24 hours and the number of bottles may be between 5 and 6 a day. By the time they are six months old, they should be using 4 or 5 bottles a day and drinking 6 to 8 ounces per bottle.
That four to five bottle pace should typically last until their first birthday. At that time, they should be able to transition to cow’s milk in either a bottle or sippy cup. At this point, they may also be eating three solids meals a day with snacks in between.
Why do formula-fed babies drink more?
Looking at the information we’ve presented you may notice that in comparison to breastfed babies, a baby drinking formula tends to drink more. Like you, we were curious about why that is and there can be several reasons why.
- When a baby uses a bottle, the formula flows much more consistently than when milk comes from their mother’s breast. In the first three to four months, newborns have an inborn reflex that after they swallow, automatically triggers a suckling action. With the flow much more consistent from a bottle, your little one is getting more every feeding. With this suckling action, bottle-fed babies are at greater risk for overfeeding before they outgrow that reflex.
- When your little one drinks formula, it is metabolized differently than breastmilk. The nutrients in baby formula are used less efficiently by babies who are primarily formula fed. This could lead to them requiring more milk in order to meet their nutritional needs.
- A formula-fed baby also tends to burn more calories while they sleep in comparison to breastfed babies. Baby formula doesn’t contain hormones such as adiponectin and leptin which help your baby regulate the metabolism of their energy and appetite. Because of these missing hormones, the formula can affect their sleep metabolism as well.
Signs that your baby’s getting the right amount of formula
New parents can easily worry and obsess over whether or not the newest member of their family is getting the right amount of formula that they need to help them grow bigger and get stronger. Some key signs to pay attention to so that you know you’re doing a good job:
Steady weight gain: While most babies will lose up to 10% of their body weight after birth and regain it during their first two weeks, a good sign is that they are continuing to gain weight after those initial two weeks. That growth should continue steadily throughout their first year.
Happy baby: While not an old saying, a happy baby is a healthy baby. A good sign that you are feeding your little one the right amount of formula is that once a feeding is done they seem relaxed and satisfied with the meal they just had.
Wet diapers: No matter what, there are going to be a lot of diapers that you’ll have to change with your baby. If you’re giving them the right amount of formula, they may typically have between five and six wet diapers a day if you use disposable diapers, which can hold more liquid. Using cloth diapers? You may use between six and eight diapers a day.
Worries that your baby’s getting too much or too little formula
Even if you do everything that we have listed here from the amount they are getting to the frequency of the bottles you feed them but still have worried that your baby might be getting too much or too little formula don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Many parents worry that one little change will have disastrous results for their little one. To calm your nerves and get the answers and reassurance that you are doing things the right way, the best option is to see your baby’s doctor.
If you have any concerns, don’t be shy and let your pediatrician know what’s on your mind. They can take your little one’s weight and growth and can determine if the amount of formula that they are getting is an appropriate amount for the growth that they have done up to that point.
If they find that they are being given too little or too much, they can suggest adjustments so your baby can be on the right track to being happy and healthy.
What to look for in choosing your baby’s formula
When you have decided to start feeding your little one using formula, there can be certain things to look out for when you’re comparing different types. When we created our guide to how much formula you should feed your baby, we wanted to make sure that whichever formula you choose meets a certain set of criteria. These criteria include:
Baby formula can come in different forms. Whether you choose to go with a powder formula or a ready to use formula, choosing the one that works best for your baby and for you is of the utmost importance. Choosing the wrong form could cause your little one to reject it and cause you to spend more money buying more formula.
When you first start to give your child formula for their source of nutrition, you need to make sure to look out for those formulas that provide the right nutrition for their growing bodies and not too much so that it can have an adverse effect. The protein content in baby formula can vary between brands but finding one that has the right protein count for your little one is important. Infants between 0 and six months of age should get 10 grams of protein a day.
The same goes for carbohydrates. Essential for proper growth and development, they are your infant’s main energy source. Giving the right amount will help them maintain a healthy weight. Its recommended to give them 95 grams of carbohydrates a day.
It’s a no-brainer that baby formula can get expensive quickly. If your little one eats a few times a day, you’re going to go through a lot of formula. Many people will recommend buying formula at budget clubs like Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Costco or even sign up for coupons on the manufacturer’s site to receive some coupons in the mail each month to help pay for formula.
Child’s Birth Weight
Some children can be born with a low birthweight, which is typically less than six pounds in weight. Providing them with a nutritious diet will help them grow stronger. Choosing a formula that is enriched with nutrients can help their health immensely.
For babies who are not breastfed, either by mom’s decision or another reason should be fed with formula until they are one year old. This is because the iron content in a formula can help increase the level of iron in the blood, helping to prevent anemia.
In baby formula, there can be two ingredients that can be the source of some major controversies:
DHA – DHA is a Omega-3 fatty acid
ARA – ARA is a Omega-6 fatty acid
Both of these are considered to be the best kinds of fatty acids for infants.
Known to heath develop your little one’s brain and nerves, these fatty acids are naturally found in breast milk, fish oils, and eggs. However, when the two components are added, they are usually processed with the harmful ingredient, hexane.
Manufacturers claim that only small traces can be found in the formula, but for some parents, this may be enough to keep them from using formula.