As a new parent, you are understandably concerned with making sure your little bundle of joy receives adequate nutrition. Since newborns are on a liquid on diet, whether breast milk or formula, the question boils down to how many ounces a newborn should eat in 24 hours to get all the calories and nutrients he needs to fuel his early growth. The exact answer will vary on the age and weight of your baby, his medical condition and his personal appetite, but you can learn to watch for behavioral cues that clue you in to when your baby is hungry and when he has had enough to thrive and be healthy.
Newborn Feeding Schedule
For the first two weeks of life, your baby will average six to 10 feedings in 24 hours of two to three ounces each, according to the University of California at Davis. By three to four weeks, she will cut back slightly to six to eight daily feedings of three to four ounces each. So, for the first month of life, your healthy newborn's appetite will blossom rapidly from just a few ounces at first to anywhere from 12 to 32 ounces every day. This is generally spread out over eight to 12 feedings, spaced at 1.5 to 3 hours apart around the clock, counting from the start of the feeding. However, you don't have to lock in an inflexible feeding schedule -- rather, learn to trust your baby's instincts to tell you when she is hungry and when she is full, recommends KidsHealth.
The Bounty of Breast Milk
In the first month of life, newborns range from two to four ounces of breast milk per feeding, reports Alan Greene, adjunct clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. This comes to 12 to 40 ounces per day. A preemie microbaby can start out at only one teaspoon per feeding or two to three tablespoons per day. Babies vary in appetite but generally consume between 19 and 30 ounces of breast milk per day with an average of 25 ounces, according to KellyMom.
Filling up on Formula
Your baby's appetite will fluctuate from day to day and feeding to feeding just like your adult appetite. So, although no hard and fast rule applies to all babies across the board, Baby Center offers a rule of thumb for calculating how many ounces of formula your newborn should eat in 24 hours: multiply your baby's weight times 2.5 ounces. Most newborns weigh in at five to 10 pounds at birth, giving a range of approximately 12 to 25 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period. Alternatively, Baby Center suggests starting with 1.5 to two ounces of formula per feeding in the first week and slowly increasing it to two to three ounces every three to four hours. By one month, some babies will take four ounces at a time, five to six times daily.
Just Right Nutrition
Although no golden mathematical formula will accurately predict the ebb and flow of your newborn's appetite, you can look for signs of hunger, such as sticking her tongue out, moving her head side to side, putting her hands on her mouth, or rooting around for the breast or bottle. When she stops sucking and swallowing or plays with your nipple, or turns away, it signals that she is full and you can stop feeding. Your health care specialist can confirm that she is within the normal range for growth and weight to ease your mind about whether she is eating enough. You can look for other clues as well, such as contentment when she is done feeding and five to eight wet diapers per day, depending on the type of diaper you are using, to reassure you that her nutrition is just right.