How often and how much should I feed my newborn?

Newborns feed a lot during the early few weeks of life — up to 8 to 12 times a day. Babies know when they are hungry and full, and they will give you cues to let you know what they need. You’ll learn your baby’s patterns and needs as they grow, but a good place to start is feeding your baby every 1-3 hours. As they get older, they’ll need to feed less often, and you can expect longer stretches between feeding, typically around every 3 hours. For babies who drink formula, there is a general recommendation to drink 2.5oz per pound of body weight per day. For example, an 8lb baby will drink 20oz across their feedings. The amount per feeding will depend on how frequently they are feeding, which will still typically be every 3-4 hours. You and your baby will steadily get into a routine where your baby lets you know when they are hungry. Breastfed infants can feed on demand, as breastfeeding works on supply and demand, so the baby will drive the milk supply. Breastmilk is digested faster than formula, so breastfed infants typically eat more often. Formula-fed babies will also give you cues that they’re ready to eat, but creating a routine and paying attention to their cues before and during feeds can be helpful to assure they are not overfed. Formula takes longer to digest, so formula fed infants typically eat less frequently, around every 3-4 hours. Here are some ways babies may communicate hunger:

  • Moving their heads from side to side
  • Opening and closing their mouths, sticking out their tongues
  • Placing their hands and fists to their mouths
  • Puckering their lips, like they’re sucking a straw
  • Crying

    This article has been reviewed by our 
    team of experts.

    Disclaimer: The contents of this article does not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about any health or medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment you should consult with your pediatrician or a licensed healthcare provider.