Am I Feeding My Baby Enough?
As pediatric nurses, feeding questions are some of the most common questions we get from newborn parents. Although all newborns are on their own growth journey, there are some general rules to be aware of to help you know if they are getting enough milk. Plus, knowing this will also help put you at ease and reinforce that you are doing a good job with your baby!
How much should babies eat?
General feeding guidelines for newborns (first month or two of life):
In the first month of life, babies need to eat 8-12 times per day, which is about every 2-3 hours.
With formula they can drink between 1.5 – 3 ounces.
Some breastfed babies eat more frequently, every 1.5 to 2 hours, or approx. 15 times a day.
It is important to know, if your baby isn’t waking up to eat, you need to wake them up. We recommend setting an alarm at the 4 hour mark so you can stay on track with keeping up with their feeding schedule. This is only for babies within their first month or two of life. At age 2 months, you can start stretching out their night feeds.
Babies differ with their efficiency with breastfeeding, but each breastfeeding session typically lasts 10 – 20 minutes. Some babies drink just enough to get sleepy, so make sure they stay awake and get a full feeding in each session. Otherwise, they might snack, take a nap, and wake up hungry shortly after.
By 2 months of age, their stomachs are a bit bigger and they tend to have 2 – 4 ounces per feed, about 3 - 4 hours apart. Before you know it, they are 4 months old and taking 6 ounces of milk at a time. By 6 months of age they may be taking up to 8 ounces of milk per feed.
General Newborn Feeding Instructions:
Always hold your baby during feeding
Never lean the bottle against something during feeding (aka: “prop” the bottle)
Never warm the milk in the microwave. It can burn your baby’s mouth. Warm milk up by submerging a closed bottle in warm water.
Throw away formula once it has set out for 1 hour or longer.
Always burp your baby half way through a feeding. Babies swallow a lot of air while eating. Trapped gas is painful and makes for a grumpy baby.
It is common for babies to spit up, this may decrease when keeping them in a sitting position for 30 minutes after each feed. See our blog post on reflux for more info on this.
Allergies to breast milk or formula may cause your child to have a reaction (such as a rash, diarrhea, or vomiting) after a feeding. Talk with your health care provider if you have concerns about allergies to breast milk or formula.
It is important to remember- if your baby is consistently gaining weight, they are most likely getting enough to eat. If you have any concerns whatsoever, always reach out to your child’s pediatrician.
As always, like, comment, and share!
Kayla Loschky, RN, BSN
NYC Health + Hospitals - Bellevue