What Happens When a Newborn Eats Too Much?

If your newborn is eating too much, you might notice excess spit-up or rapid weight gain. However, every baby is different, and it might be difficult to determine whether overfeeding is an issue based only on spitting up or the way your baby fits into his clothes. It's important to be aware of average feeding amounts, as well as hunger and fullness signs, to keep your baby eating a healthy amount.

Average Amounts

According to KidsHealth.org, a breastfed newborn needs to eat every two to three hours. If your baby is drinking formula, she will need 1 to 3 ounces of formula every two to three hours, and an increased amount of 4 to 5 ounces every three to four hours by the time she is 2 months old. If your newborn is regularly eating greater amounts and more frequently, she might be overeating. However, increased feedings during growth spurts are normal. You can expect your baby to experience a growth spurt at around 1 to 2 weeks, 2 months and 4 months.

Spitting Up

One of the most common signs of overfeeding is spitting up, and this can occur if your newborn’s stomach simply cannot handle all of its contents. To prevent spitting up from overfeeding, you can offer your baby smaller and more frequent feedings. Burp him after every few ounces and then wait to see if he shows signs of hunger before offering him more breast milk or formula. Keep in mind that spitting up can occur after feedings, even if your baby isn’t eating too much, due to his immature digestive system -- so spitting up is not automatically a sign of overeating.

Weight Gain

Your baby’s doctor keeps track of her weight gain during regular check-ups. More important than your baby’s weight compared to her peers is the curve that she follows as she grows. If she suddenly jumps into a much higher percentile and isn’t following a regular pattern of weight gain, it could be because she is overeating. Your baby’s doctor is likely to ask questions about her eating habits to determine if overfeeding is a problem.


Avoid feeding your baby every time she cries. Crying can also be a sign of needing to be changed, held or moved away from overstimulation. If your baby is hungry, she may show early signs like sticking out her tongue, opening her mouth or sucking on her hands. During feedings, pause and give your baby a chance to show that she is full by closing her mouth or turning away from the breast or bottle. MayoClinic.com also recommends against giving your newborn extra fluids like water or juice 1.

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