Although child-health professionals recommend general schedules for feeding newborns and older babies, schedules are largely based on whether the baby is breast-fed or bottle-fed, the needs of the baby and how much liquid the baby’s stomach can hold. Parents often find comfort in schedules because they alleviate worry about whether the baby is getting enough nutrition. Your pediatrician is the best source of advice about infant-feeding schedules. However, as you begin to recognize the cues babies give when they are hungry, you also can use specific methods to gauge whether your baby is feeding often enough and getting enough nourishment.
Because babies digest breast milk faster than formula made from cow’s milk, breast-fed babies require more frequent feedings. Newborn breast-fed babies nurse about every two to three hours, while bottle-fed newborns are fed every three to four hours. Mothers might notice a pattern in the baby’s feeding needs, but should not try to force the baby to stick to a feeding schedule, according to MedlinePlus. Breast-fed babies often control their own feeding schedules by nursing at will and stopping when full. Bottle-fed babies should be fed when they are hungry, as well. Babies require less frequent feedings because their stomachs grow and hold more during the first few weeks.
Your 2- to 6-month-old baby might require a feeding of 4 to 5 ounces every three to four hours. Although babies eat larger amounts less frequently as they gain weight and get older, growth spurts at 4 and 6 months can cause increased hunger and more frequent feedings. As your baby reaches his sixth month, you should continue to feed him when he is hungry or, as KidsHealth recommends, continue to “feed on demand.” As you add more solid foods to his diet, he will remain full for longer periods and continue to eat less frequently.
How Much to Feed
The size of your baby’s stomach is about the size of his fist, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. Small, frequent meals are better for babies. From birth to 6 months, babies usually need 2 to 2 1/2 ounces of milk daily for each pound they weigh. For instance, a 10-pound baby needs about 20 to 25 ounces of milk each day. A newborn drinks about 1 to 2 ounces. Babies increase their milk intake at a feeding to 3 to 4 ounces around one to two months old. By the time your baby is 2 to 6 months old, she will probably take 4 to 6 ounces at a feeding. Babies 6 to 12 months advance to about 8 ounces per feeding.
Is Baby Getting Enough
You can get an idea of how much milk your baby is drinking by checking his diapers throughout the day, according to HealthyChildren.org. In his first month of life, your newborn should produce a wet diaper six times or more daily and have bowel movements three to four times or more daily. Your pediatrician will weigh the baby and measure his length during each visit to ensure that his growth is occurring as expected for his age group. For instance, during the first four months of life, babies usually grow in length 1 to 1 1/2 inches while gaining 1 1/2 to 2 pounds per month.