How much milk should my baby drink?

Updated June 13, 2017

Babies are complicated little creatures, and learning to care for one can be a challenge. The more you know, the easier it is to raise your infant. Because babies eat frequently, make sure you understand the basics of infant feeding.

How Much Milk to Give Your Baby

For bottle-fed babies: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a newborn should consume 28.4 to 85.1gr of formula per feeding. By the end of the first month, your baby should take 2 to 3 oz per feeding. Each subsequent month, you should increase the average feeding by 28.4gr, until you reach 227gr per feeding. In general, a baby under six months should take 2 to 2.5 oz per pound of body weight each day.

For breast-fed babies: According to the authors of "What to Expect the First Year," when a newborn is breast-fed, he should be allowed to nurse for as long as he wants. It's OK if your baby unlatches a few times or nurses slowly; one feeding can take up to 45 minutes. Once your baby seems uninterested in the first breast, then switch breasts, and again allow him to feed until he doesn't want any more.

Demand Feeding

The AAP recommends feeding on demand, which means feeding the baby whenever she acts hungry or wants to eat. Gradually, a routine will develop.

For bottle-fed babies: Generally, give your baby a bottle every three to four hours. For the first month, don't let your newborn sleep longer than five hours without eating. By the second month, your baby should be fed about every four or five hours.

For breast-fed babies: A baby should be breastfed eight to 12 times per day or more often, which means feeding at least every two to three hours. For the first month, don't let your baby sleep longer than three or four hours without being fed.

Parent-Directed Feeding

According to Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, authors of "On Becoming Babywise," it's best to feed your baby according to a flexible schedule. Although you should always feed your baby when he is hungry, you should strongly encourage him to eat a full meal every time he eats and then to wait two and a half to three hours between feedings. (The AAP agrees that this can help a baby eat fuller meals and stay satisfied longer.) This stabilises your baby's digestive metabolism, and it allows your baby to sleep longer without waking up to snack. Plus, babies thrive on routine.

Additionally, if you are breast-feeding your baby, parent-directed feeding regulates your milk production and ensures that your baby consumes enough high-calorie, high-fat, nutrient-rich, hunger-satisfying breast milk.

Signs That Your Baby Is Hungry

Crying is your baby's last resort; you should notice that your baby is hungry well before she cries for food. Watch for these signs of hunger: sucking her hands or the air, pursing her mouth, unusual alertness, rooting (turning to your breasts or "searching" for something to suck) or whimpering.

Don't automatically feed your baby every time she cries. Listen to the cry and try to figure out what your baby is saying. For example, she might be fussing herself to sleep or wanting to play, or she might have gas. If you feed her every time she cries, you might ignore some of her needs, and you might overfeed her.

Is Baby Getting Enough Milk?

A newborn should produce at least five dirty diapers each day and at least eight to 10 wet diapers each day. He should seem satisfied after a meal. If your baby is showing these signs, then he is eating enough.

Cow's Milk Caution

Don't give your baby cow's milk until she is 1 year old. Until then, stick to breast milk or formula.

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About the Author

As a professional copywriter since 2004, Lily Medina researches to expand her expertise in technology, parenting, education, health, fitness and writing. She has also taught high school and worked as a copy editor. Medina majored in political theory at Patrick Henry College.