No matter how prepared you think you are, you’ll still have questions once your newborn arrives. One of the most common worries new parents have? Whether their little one is eating the right amount.
Every baby is unique, but there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when it’s time for a feeding.
How Much Do Babies Eat?
Newborn to 2 months: During their first month, babies need to eat 8-12 times each day. That’s about once every 2-3 hours. Some who are breastfeeding, though, can eat every 1.5 hours, and up to 15 times a day. If your baby isn’t waking up on his own for a feeding during the first few weeks, you should get him up to eat on schedule.
If you’re breastfeeding, your little one will spend about 10 to 20 minutes on your breast. Some may nurse for longer, but make sure he’s actually sucking and swallowing the whole time.
Giving formula? Plan on your baby drinking 1.5 to 3 ounces at each feeding.
After about a month, he’ll start eating at least 4 ounces at each feeding. As breastfed babies get the hang of nursing, they’ll get more milk from you, too. You may not notice, though, since they’ll do it in less time.
At 2 months, he may drink 4-5 ounces at each feeding, 3-4 hours apart.
At 4 months, he may need up to 6 ounces every time. The pediatrician may encourage you to start to introduce solid foods - or advise you to wait if you are still exclusively breastfeeding.
By 6 months, some babies drink as much as 8 ounces of breastmilk or formula even as they go longer between feedings.
Remember: The exact amount your little one drinks will vary from day to day. For instance, he may want to eat more than normal when he’s going through a growth spurt. Trust your baby to know how much food he needs.
You can watch for a few signs that he’s full:
- He pulls away from your breast or his bottle
- He falls asleep during a feeding
- He shakes his head or keeps his mouth closed
Those signs can also help you know that you’re not overfeeding your little one. And at regular checkups, your pediatrician will let you know if your baby’s growth (height and weight) is on track.
Signs That Your Baby Is Eating Enough
When he’s getting the right amount of food, you’ll see:
Plenty of wet diapers. The first few days after birth, he may only wet one or two diapers each day. After that, he should need six to eight cloth (five or six disposable) diaper changes every 24 hours, plus have two to five poopy ones each day.
Steady weight gain. After the first 2 weeks, your baby should gain about 4-7 ounces per week until his sixth month, and 3-5 ounces from 6 to 18 months.
Your baby is active and happy. A child that’s eating well will look alert and be active. He’ll also seem content between feedings.
Signs That Your Baby Isn’t Eating Enough
Reasons to call your doctor include:
- Dark pee or orange crystals in his diaper
- He would rather sleep than eat
- He won’t latch onto your breast, or he pulls away from you
- He’s fussy right after feedings
- He wets fewer diapers
As a new parent, it’s key to learn to trust your instincts. If you have any concerns about your baby’s eating, check in with his doctor.