How to Know How Often to Feed a Newborn

By Susan Revermann
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Among all of your new duties as a parent, you now have to figure out how frequently to feed your baby to ensure that she’s healthy, satisfied and growing. Luckily, that little bundle of joy will give you some signs to indicate that it’s time to eat and that she’s getting enough nourishment. As you venture through the first weeks of your baby’s life journey, you will start to recognize the signs and be ready with the milk.

Step 1

Look for hunger cues. This indicates that it’s your baby’s mealtime. The first signs of hunger come in the form of stirring, stretching, rooting, sucking motions, lip movements or putting her hands in her mouth. Crying and fussing are late-stage hunger cues. Your baby is most likely full and satisfied when she stops sucking, turns away from the breast or bottle, closes her mouth or falls asleep.

Step 2

Pay attention to how many times you feed your baby each day. A breastfed newborn will nurse about 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period, according to the Mayo Clinic website. A newborn will drink 1 1/2 to 3 ounces of formula every two to three hours. Feed your baby on demand or when she shows signs of being hungry. Each breastfeeding session will be roughly 20 to 45 minutes in length. Don’t be surprised if she cluster feeds occasionally, wanting to eat more frequently than usual. This is normal.

Step 3

Count those soiled diapers. Young newborns will typically have one dirty diaper for each day of life. After about day four, she will have at least three or four poopy diapers a day. When a mother’s milk comes in, the baby will have at least five to six wet diapers daily.