How much formula does my baby need?

Before the birth of your little one, you, your doctor and midwife will have discussed whether or not you plan to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby. If you have decided on the latter, you’ll not only need to get to grips with all of the sterilising equipment and learn how to make up a bottle-feed, you might also be asking yourself how much and how often you should be feeding your baby.

How often should I feed my newborn baby?

You might have decided that bottle-feeding from the start is best for you; you may be supplementing your breast milk with formula milk; or you might have decided to switch from breastmilk to formula milk. Regardless of you and your little one’s personal circumstances, it's generally recommended that you feed your baby whenever they seem hungry. As a guide - and it is just a guide, so don’t feel too wedded to this as it’s really important you get to know and understand your little one’s unique feeding pattern - most newborn babies who are bottle-feeding need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. As they begin to grow, their little tummies can hold more milk, and they usually eat every 3 to 4 hours.

Although most little ones will eventually settle into a nice regular feeding pattern, you may find that your baby wants to feed more or less often. And just like adults, sometimes your baby will be thirsty and other times less so. Make sure you’re feeding your baby when your little one shows signs of hunger.

During the early stages, your baby will tend to want to feed little and often, so don’t worry if they don’t finish every feed. Just because there is formula milk left over in their bottle doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your baby. By the same token, if your little one has a big feed, it doesn’t mean they won’t be hungry in a few hours time.

Baby milk intake chart

The table below provides a guide to how often you should be feeding your baby, dependent on their age. Of course, this is only a guide, and if your little one is premature or has a low birth weight, their feeding requirements will be different. Newborn babies may take quite small amounts to start with. If you’re unsure, you can always speak to your midwife or call us to find out more. 

Approx. ageAmount per feed - mlAmount per feed - fluid ouncesNumber of feeds per 24 hours
Up to 2 weeks90ml bottle 3 floz
2-4 weeks
120ml bottle 4 floz
4-8 weeks150ml bottle 5 floz
8-12 weeks180ml bottle 6 floz
3-4 months180ml bottle6 floz  
4-5 months210ml bottle7 floz 
5-6 months210ml bottle7 floz
7-12 months210ml beaker7 floz3
1 year+150ml beaker5 floz

When do I start timing feeds?

Every baby is different and their appetites vary massively, so it can be normal for them to take more or fewer feeds than the guide above suggests. Your baby won't always wake at an exact time after their previous feed is finished. If you’re able to, try and time your baby’s feeds from the moment you start until the beginning of the next feed (and remember, with winding and changing, every feed may last about an hour). So if you feed your baby at 12 noon and they go back to sleep at 1pm, expect to feed them again at about 4pm. If your baby does follow a routine of feeding every three hours, you’re going to be very busy, particularly in the early months!

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

If you’re worried about your baby’s appetite and whether they are getting enough milk, their nappies are quite a good (and smelly) indicator to give you a steer. You’re going to become very familiar, and potentially a little obsessed, with the contents of your baby’s nappy! (It’s really not as bad as it sounds - they are a sight to behold!)

In addition to your baby’s weight gain, the number of wet and dirty nappies will show you whether your little one is eating enough. In the beginning, you'll probably be changing at least six wet and four dirty nappies every day (again, this is just a general steer). When changing your baby’s nappies, check to ensure your little one’s urine is clear or pale and it will probably feel a little weighty (all good signs!). As a newborn, your little one’s poos will probably be very dark and sticky, but after the first week they should start passing yellowish brown poos. Welcome to the joys of parenthood! 

How will I know if my formula-fed baby is hungry?

It’s perfectly natural to worry about whether you’re feeding your baby enough, but once you get into a rhythm and become familiar with their feeding habits (and cute little faces during their feeds), you will get the hang of it. Here are a few common signs that your baby might be hungry:

  • If your little one is getting fidgety or restless, it’s probably time to give them a feed.

  • If they open their cute little mouth and turn their head towards you.

  • If they start to suck their fingers, or sometimes even their whole fist.

  • If your baby starts to cry, then this could be a sign they are hungry.

How much formula milk does my weaning baby need?

From around six months, it could be time to start introducing solids alongside your little one’s regular milk. This is called weaning, and there’s going be a lot of messy fun from here on in!

If your baby is ready to start eating a variety of purées and finger foods you still need to give your baby their regular milk. At the beginning your little one is more likely to get their solid foods all over you than in their little mouths, so it’s recommended you give them the same amount of milk feeds as before. As your little one begins to eat more solid foods, they will start to need less bottle-feeding. Babies should naturally and gradually reduce the amount of milk they want themselves, as they build on their diet of solid foods.

Important Notice

Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant formula, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.


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