How Much Milk Should You Feed to a Newborn? | The Toddly

How Much Milk Should You Feed to a Newborn?


Understandably, a woman who is new to embracing motherhood is concerned about the baby's well-being, especially about the baby's feed. And if they choose to bottle-feed, there is an extra worry of how much milk is enough for the newborn baby.

Newborn babies have a very tiny stomach, about the size of a walnut, and they don't need too much milk in the first few days. But the baby's feeding pattern, quantity, and frequency will change as she grows.

Let's break it down for you so you can confidently prepare your baby's feed.

First Week

At the time of birth, the baby's stomach is very tiny and can only hold 1 or 1 ½ teaspoon per feeding, that makes 5-7 ml per feed. The mother's body produces highly nutritious colostrum with high-level antibodies to prepare the baby's body to fight infections. So if the mom's pumping it and planning to feed it via bottle, try to give it as much as possible.

By the third day, the baby's stomach will grow, and they will be able to feed 1 or ¾ ounce per feed or 25-27 ml per feed. 

In the first week, the baby can take up to 1.5 or 2 ounces of milk per feed and should be given 8-10 times feed in 24 hours.

Bottle-Feeding Age-Wise Guideline

After the baby's first week, the baby will need more milk as the stomach will grow in capacity from apricot to egg size and can hold more milk. But remember, every child is different, so is his hunger and feeding frequency. So, your baby might need a bit less or more milk from our recommended estimate.

In the case of bottle-feeding, the general guideline or formula is to feed 30 ml or 1 ounce per hour. So, that means if you are feeding your child after 3 hours, you will have to prepare 90 ml or 3 ounces of milk. On a side note, it's always better to prepare a little extra in case your baby's tummy requires more milk to feel full and satisfied. If it feels confusing and complex, have a look at the chart below to have approximate feeding ounces for the baby.

Baby's age Ounces per feed Frequency
Up to 2 weeks
2.5 - 4 ounces 
8-10 times a day
At 2 months 4-5 ounces  3-4 hours
At 4 months 4-6 ounces  4-5 hours
At 6 months 6-8 ounces  4-5 hours
6-12 months 7-8 ounces  + solid food 4-5 bottles a day + 3 times solid food

From 12- 24 Months Old Baby

When your baby is 12 months old, their immune system builds up and the tummy is ready to accept new solid food. At that time, you can gradually change from instant formula milk to cow's whole milk or soy milk.

How to Recognize Baby's Hunger Hints

For on-demand feeding, it is better to learn and recognize feeding signs because it is recommended for healthy babies to feed them when they are hungry.

  • Trying to suck hands and fingers or keep moving the hand to mouth
  • Moving head here left and right in search of the breast.
  • Lips licking
  • Showing signs of restlessness and irritation
  • Trying to stick anything around
  • Opening mouth
  • Taking out tongue
  • Crying

Is Your Baby Taking Enough Feed?

Usually, babies can rightly assess their needs and take enough feed to fulfill their tiny tummies. But being a mother, you might be concerned if your baby is taking enough milk.

One way to assess this is that your baby will feel relaxed, stop suckling after the feed, and sleep soundly without interruption.

Another way is to keep a check on baby's diapers, their pee, and poo, to be exact. A newborn baby will have 2-3 diapers and will have tarry stools. After 4-5 days, your baby will have 5-6 wet diapers and 4 diapers of stool. As the baby grows, the stool will turn yellow. If your baby is not gaining weight, it may indicate that the baby is underfed.

Unusual or Irregular Feeding

The baby's feeding may get disturbed in the first year, or their requirements may totally change. It may be due to teething, vaccination, or growth spurts. The baby's hunger can fluctuate, and the baby may need more or less milk. It's normal in babies, and they usually go back to their previous routine in 2-3 days.

However, if the baby is consistently taking more feed, then it's time for you to understand that the amount of milk you are preparing is insufficient, and you need to make extra milk. Adjust baby's feed according to their requirement.

Final Words

It will take a few weeks for new mothers to adjust and understand their baby's milk requirement. The key is to remain unstressed and enjoy the process. Adjust the baby's feed according to the baby's demand and follow her hunger cues.

If you are unsure about the baby's underfeeding or overfeeding, consult the pediatrician.

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