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How Often Does Your Baby Need to Eat?

Feed your baby whenever he or she seems hungry (on-demand).

During the first few days or weeks, breast-feedings tend to occur every 1 to 3 hours around the clock. And formula-feedings tend to occur every 3 to 4 hours around the clock. You may have to wake your sleepy newborn to feed in the first few days after birth.

A baby will usually wake up during the night for feedings for about the first 6 months. After that, babies may wait as long as 8 hours between feedings. Babies typically eat more just before and during a growth spurt.

A baby is getting enough to eat if he or she:

  • Wets at least 6 to 8 diapers a day.
  • Gains 4 oz (0.1 kg) or more each week.

Babies give cues during feeding that show how hungry they are.

  • A hungry baby will latch on to the breast or bottle and suck continuously.
  • A baby who is getting full during a feeding will take longer pauses between sucking.
  • A full baby will turn away from the breast or bottle and not want to suck.

Your baby may be eating too much if he or she often spits up some of the feeding and has loose stools. Overeating or swallowing too much air during a feeding may cause cramps, which in turn can make a baby cry.

For information about how much formula babies tend to drink at each feeding, see the topic Bottle-Feeding. For information about how long each breast-feeding may take, see the topic Breast-Feeding.

Talk to your doctor if you are concerned that your baby of any age isn?t getting enough food. Over time, you will learn to recognize when your baby is satisfied with enough formula or breast milk.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised August 1, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 01, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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