How to Get an Infant to Drink More Formula

Babies require between 2 and 3 oz. of breast milk or formula per day for every pound they weigh up to 32 oz per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website 1. So, a 10-lb. baby needs between 20 and 30 oz. of milk each day. If a formula-fed baby isn’t gaining an average of 1 oz. each day, look for ways to get the infant to drink more formula to increase weight gain.

Figure out how many ounces of formula your baby should take at each feeding. Multiply your baby’s current weight by 2.5 to find the total number of ounces your baby needs each day. Divide this number by the number of bottles you give your baby each day. For example, if your baby needs 25 ounces each day and you give her eight feedings each day, your baby needs a minimum of 3.125 oz. at each feeding. Add an ounce or two of extra formula to each bottle so you know you’ll have enough for your baby at each feeding.

Wake the baby if the baby has been sleeping longer than two hours during the day. An awake baby is more likely to want to eat. By limiting naps to two-hour durations, your baby might eat more often. Encourage a baby to eat every two to three hours.

Watch your baby for hunger cues and offer a bottle before your baby cries from hunger. When a baby becomes hungry, he might begin rooting around to find a nipple or he might become restless as you hold him. Eventually, if a hungry baby cannot find food by rooting or acting restless, he will begin to cry. If you feed a baby before he cries, he might eat more because you will not have to calm him first. Also, if your baby does not need to expend energy crying, he can use these calories for growing instead of crying.

Keep distractions minimized during feedings. This can be especially important for an older baby who finds the activity around her interesting. Keep the room quiet and calm and focus only on feeding your baby until she shows you she’s had enough by pulling away from the bottle.

Burp your baby after feeding him to make sure he doesn’t swallow air that will fill up his tummy and prevent him from drinking more milk. Air in a baby’s tummy can also contribute to upset, which will diminish baby’s appetite.

Offer the bottle again after burping to see if your baby will take any more formula.


Never force a baby to drink milk. A baby will drink as much as desired and will tell you when he’s finished.

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