How much should baby eat?
The answer isn’t always clear cut, but our handy “how many ounces should a baby eat chart” can help.
We’re summarizing just how much your little bundle needs, on average, at each stage of their development – guided by the expertise of Registered Toddler Dietitian and Nutritionist (RDN) Kacie Barnes.
In this article: 📝
- How many ounces should a baby eat a day?
- Your at-a-glance baby feeding chart
- How to tell your baby is hungry
- How much breastmilk does a newborn need?
- How much formula does a newborn need?
- How much food does your baby need?
How many ounces should a baby eat a day?
Whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, or combining the two, working out how much your baby should be eating at any given time is an ever-evolving challenge.
Thankfully, babies are pretty good at keeping you informed when it comes to feeding.
They’ll let you know when their tummy’s rumbling, they’ll take their fill of boob and/or bottle, and they’ll stop when they’ve had quite enough, thank you.
Letting your baby take the lead is a simple and natural way of approaching feeding – but it’s also helpful to know how much they need in general as they grow and develop.
Not to worry, we’ve got the lowdown on the key feeding stages, common hunger cues, and how much food breast and formula-fed babies need below.
Your at-a-glance baby feeding chart
If you’re wondering how much your baby should eat at certain ages and stages, this baby feeding chart should help.
It’s worth remembering that every baby is different, and some will need more food depending on their body weight, age, and appetite.
So, how many ounces per pound should a baby eat?
A quick way to calculate this is to multiply your baby’s weight by two and a half.
For example, a 10-pound baby will typically need 25 ounces of breastmilk or formula a day.
How to tell your baby is hungry
Learning your baby’s hunger cues is a crucial step toward making sure they’re well-fed.
Beyond crying their little heart out, here are a few common signs that your little person’s ready for their next meal:
- Sucking on their fingers and hands
- Sucking on their tongue
- Nuzzling against your chest or breasts
- Smacking their lips
- Turning their head and opening their mouth when you stroke their cheek (known as the “rooting reflex”)
How much breastmilk does a newborn need?
Newborns will generally feed for between 20 and 30 minutes at a time every two to three hours.
This adds up to 8 - 12 feedings a day.
“It’s also not uncommon for some sessions to be much shorter,” explains Barnes, “or shorter on one side and longer on the other, etc.
The pattern of breastfeeding can be tricky to nail down, so watching for the hunger/fullness cues will be a great guide for you to understand if your baby has gotten enough.”
Bear in mind that there will be days when your baby feeds almost non-stop.
These cluster feeds tend to coincide with growth spurts, and things usually revert back to a more predictable pattern after a day or so.
But you can always ask a lactation consultant for help if something feels off or you worry they aren’t getting enough to eat.
It’s best not to let newborns snooze through a feed (however tempting it might be) unless your pediatrician gives you the okay.
Aim for at least 8 feeds a day, even if that means disturbing their beauty rest.
How much formula does a newborn need?
During the first few weeks of your babe’s life, between 1 and 3 ounces of formula every three to four hours should do the trick.
At one-month-old, aim for around 4 ounces every four hours.
By 6 months, between 24 and 36 ounces across four or five feedings is a good rule of thumb.
Just remember to watch for those hunger cues.
If your baby still seems hungry after they’ve polished off a bottle, offer them more.
On the other hand, if they start fidgeting before the bottle’s empty, they’re probably full.
Don’t force them to finish it, or it could reappear on your favorite sweater.
What if you’re combination feeding?
If you’re combining breast and bottle, adapt the guidelines in our baby feeding chart above.
Follow your baby’s cues as to when they’re hungry or full, and you’ll soon find the right balance and routine.
How much food does your baby need?
Feeding your baby isn’t an exact science, and some days they’ll eat more or less than the amounts listed in this article.
Still, remember that your baby is a good judge of what they need and when – and they won’t be shy in telling you.
Spot their cues, follow their lead, settle into a routine, and enjoy every step.
It’ll be time for finger foods and toddler meals before you know it.