How Much Formula Do Newborns Drink?

By Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell
Your newborn offers an array of signals when she's hungry.
Your newborn offers an array of signals when she's hungry.

A formula-fed newborn should be given the bottle as often as her little tummy desires, explains Family Doctor, a website published by the American Academy of Family Physicians. "On demand" feeding -- when your newborn lets you know it's time to eat -- can leave you feeling like you're grabbing a bottle every time you turn around. That's because some newborns may want to be fed eight, 10, 12 or more times in a 24-hour period. As time goes on, your baby will settle into a more predictable feeding schedule.

How Much

Formula-fed babies may test the unfamiliar liquid during the first few days of life -- sometimes taking a mere 1 to 2 ounces per feeding. A newborn is typically consuming 2 to 3 ounces of formula every three to four hours by the middle of the first week. Once your newborn gets into the swing of things he should be consuming 2 1/2 ounces of formula per day for every pound of body weight, explains Healthy Children, a website published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, a 7-pound newborn would probably consume a little more than 17 ounces of formula per day. Bear in mind that each baby instinctively knows how much formula his body needs to meet his individual needs. You'll know that your newborn is getting the formula when he has around seven wet diapers a day.

Following Your Baby's Cues

Crying is perhaps the most effective signal used by babies to let you know that their tummy is empty. Sucking and turning her head in the direction of your hand when you touch her face can also indicate that it's time to get the formula ready. When she's eating, an easily distracted or squirmy newborn is probably trying to tell you that she's full. On the other hand, draining every drop of formula from the bottle and smacking her lips is likely a sign that she's still hungry. Even though your newborn does a good job of letting you know she's hungry, you should take charge and wake your baby for a feeding if she sleeps more than four to five hours during the first several weeks of life.

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

It's the rare baby who requires more than 36 ounces of formula per day. Drinking more than 8 ounces per feeding may be a sign that your little one is sucking on the bottle more for comfort than to fulfill his hunger needs. Although it may be hard to believe when looking at your delicate baby, patterns of obesity can start in infancy so it's critical not to overfeed you baby. Some 17 percent of kids age 2 and older are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Baby formula is usually recommended until your baby's first birthday, followed by whole milk for a year. Approximately 80 percent of formula is made from cow's milk, notes Healthy Children. Some formulas are iron-fortified while others contain a scant amount of iron or none whatsoever. Soy formula may be best for some infants including those with a rare disorder called galactosemia. Babies with galactosemia are galactose intolerant. Galatose is one of the two sugars in cow's milk that produces lactose. Talk to your pediatrician about the best formula for your newborn. Always check the expiration date on baby formula and make sure the container is in good condition. Don't buy or use formula from cans with bulges, dents, leaks or rust spots. Formula in an imperfect container may be unsafe.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.