How much formula milk does my baby need?
How much milk your baby needs is really up to your baby. There isn’t a precise way to know exactly how much formula milk your baby needs because, just like adults, your baby’s appetite will vary feed to feed and day to day. Baby knows when they are hungry and knows when they have had enough.
How can I tell if my baby is hungry?
Crying is usually the last resort for a hungry baby and there are other hunger cues that you can look for. It may take some time, but once you have learned your babies hunger cues it will get easier to know when to feed them and how much to feed them.
Typical signs that your baby is hungry may include:
- Rooting (baby moves their mouth in the direction of something that touches their cheek)
- Sucking their fingers/hands/clothing/blankets
- Smacking their lips
- Opening their mouth and moving their head from side to side
- Crying (It’s important to remember that not all cries mean that your baby is hungry, particularly if they’ve recently been fed. Crying can mean that your baby is tired, wet, irritated or just wants some attention instead. You may also find over time that you can differentiate a hunger cry from other cries!)
How can I tell when my baby has had enough formula milk?
A baby that has had enough may turn away from the bottle and should seem relaxed and contented.
If your baby drains the whole bottle and is unsettled and displaying his hunger cues try giving another ounce (30ml) of formula milk at a time until they appear happy.
When it comes to averages or guidelines they are just that: guidelines. Some babies will eat more and some babies will eat less than the guidelines say.
However, it is still good to know how to work out a basic figure on how much formula milk most babies within age groups and weights usually consume. The following information will give you some incite into those guidelines.
GUIDELINES ON HOW MUCH FORMULA YOUR BABY NEEDS:
As a rough guide you can work out how much your baby needs by allowing approximatley 150mls to 200mls of formula per kilogram of his/her body weight per day (or 2.5 ounces of formula for every pound (1lb) of your baby’s body weight per day.) For example, if your baby weighs 6kg, he’ll need between 900mls and 1200mls of formula over a 24-hour period. (A 13lb baby will consume around 32oz of formula milk in any 24 hours.)
This equation will only work if your baby isn’t within the first few weeks of life, is a healthy full term baby and is not yet eating solids. Of course, there are always conditions and special requirements for each individual baby and it is always important to remember that your baby is an individual with individual needs, so this should only be used as a guideline.
AN AGE BY AGE LOOK
How much formula your baby will need doesn’t only depend on his weight, but also on his age.
NEWBORN: In the first few weeks of life a baby’s tummy is very small and unable to hold large amounts of milk at a time, so they will need to feed on small amounts often. Most newborns will consume somewhere between 30-60mls (1 and 2 ounces) each feed, eating 8 – 10 times in a 24 hour period.
ONE MONTH: By the time your baby is one month old, he/she will probably want between 90mls (3oz) and 120mls (4oz) at each feed. They’ll consume anywhere from 400mls (13.5oz) to 800mls (27oz) in one day. Once your baby finishes a bottle without any encouragement and starts searching for seconds you will know his appetite is growing.
TWO MONTHS: At 2 months your baby will want between 120-180mls (4-6oz) at each feed and will feed about 6-8 times a day.
Between 3-6 MONTHS: Babies in this age group will typically want 4-5 feeds a day with around 180-200mls (6-7oz) at each feed. This might swap to 3-4 feeds with about 200-220mls (7-8oz) as they reach closer to their 6 month birthday.
6 MONTHS: When you start giving your baby solids, his daily intake of formula milk is likely to gradually decrease . Depending on the quantity of solids he is happy to eat, your baby will still require around 3 bottles of 200mls (7oz) per day. Once your baby is fully established on solids, he’ll need about 500ml to 600ml (17 to 20oz) of formula every day alongside a varied diet. Up until your baby’s 1st birthday, formula or breastmilk should be their main source of nutrition. If he doesn’t want this amount of milk, you can always give him milky foods such as custard, rice pudding and yogurt. (See our section on ‘Starting solids here.) Once your baby reaches 12 months you have the option of keeping him on Toddler formula or changing him to whole cows milk. Recommendations are that toddlers/children should have 1-2 glasses of milk per day.
Again: this is only a basic guideline and if you are ever concerned with how much your baby or toddler is eating then please seek help from a medical professional. It is also important to remember to not force a baby to finish a bottle if it is no longer wanted. A baby will regulate it’s own eating habit by allowing it to feed when it wants to and stop when it is full.