Infant Feeding Schedule ~ How Often My Baby Needs to Eat & How Much
If you are the parent of a newborn, you’ve likely heard this question from the pediatrician or others: how many times a day is your baby feeding?
I remember when I had my first baby, I answered, “A million?” It certainly felt like my newborn didn’t do anything other than eat, sleep and fill her diaper. It felt that way because that was the truth and totally normal for newborns. As she grew, her daily needs changed and so did how often she ate.
This infant feeding schedule is a guide on how often and how much to feed your baby from the newborn phase to the toddler years.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER! Every baby is different. The information below is based on general recommendations and is not medical advice. Consult your pediatrician with specific questions about your baby.
Newborns (Just born to One Month Old)
Newborns should be fed on demand and not on a schedule. This applies to breast and bottle-fed babies.
At a minimum newborn babies should be fed eight times a day, but more ideal would be 10-12 times in a 24 hour period.
For bottle fed babies, start by offering 1-2 ounces in a bottle and watching carefully for your baby to indicate when they are full. Resist the urge to force your baby to “finish” the bottle. Use a slow flow nipple and paced feeding. You may need to wake your baby up during the night to ensure optimal feeds.
Keep in mind that when we say 10-12 times per day, that includes overnight. While grown adults have the ability to not eat from traditional dinner times until breakfast, babies do not. Frequent feeding (like every 2 hours) ensures your baby gets the necessary nutrition to grow their brains and bodies during crucial growth periods.
Infants (One month to Six Months Old)
Daily needs can be calculated by dividing a baby’s weight in ounces by six. In general, babies in this age range need between 24-30 ounces per day. Again, they should be fed at least eight times per day and more ideally 10-12. Your baby should only receive infant formula or breastmilk, nothing else!
When is the right time to increase the nipple size/ flow rate for bottle-fed babies?
While there aren’t any hard and fast rules about this, in general you can increase the flow rate if your baby frequently collapses the nipple, tugs/bites on the nipple, seems frustrated at the nipple, or feeds are taking a lot longer than before, and all of these things are new behavior (where previously they didn’t happen.) Babies with feeding difficulties can exhibit all of these behaviors, so look for patterns. If your baby does all of these things and consistently has trouble feeding with a bottle, seek out a lactation counselor or feeding therapist.
Older Infants (Six Months Old to One Year)
Around six months old, your baby may show signs of readiness to eat solid foods. Introducing food can be such a fun time! Breastmilk or formula should still be the primary source of nutrition for all babies under one year old, but the milk intake varies greatly.
Toddlers (Over 12 Months)
Breastmilk is for toddlers too! If you’re breastfeeding, keep on at it! There isn’t a maximum age that you need to stop breastfeeding. If your baby has been formula fed, at this age you can introduce whole milk from cows, with the okay from your pediatrician. Toddler formula isn’t needed and is not supported by evidence (it’s just marketing.)
If you have any questions or need help with your infant feeding schedule we have a team of certified lactation counselors and newborn care experts that are ready to help you!
Check out: How Long Should My Baby Nurse? for more info.