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How much formula milk does my baby need?

From newborns to almost-toddlers, we explain how much formula milk your baby needs every day to stay happy and healthy.
There is no exact science to predict how much formula milk your baby will need. Just like adults, an infant's appetite will vary day to day, feed to feed.

The basics

As a rough guide however you can work out how much your baby is likely to need over the course of a day by allowing approx 2.5 ounces of formula for every pound (1lb) of your baby's body weight. For example, a 10lb baby will consume around 25oz of formula milk in any 24 hours. Do bear in mind though that this won't work for low birth weight or premature babies or infants over 6 months of age.

It's also important to remember that all babies are different, some have a larger appetite than others and providing your baby is putting on weight and your health care providers are happy with his or her progress there is little reason to worry.

In general, you're likely to notice that your baby consumes less milk when they are feeling unwell and more when they're having a growth spurt (these typically occur at around 2, 3 and 6 weeks and 3 and 6 months of age), this is completely normal.

A rough guide:

Newborn - In their first few weeks of life newborn babies need to feed little and often as their tummies aren't big enough to hold large quantities of milk at a time. Most newborns will consume somewhere between 1 and 2 ounces each feed (30-60ml), eating 8 - 10 times a day.

1 month old - Over the first month your baby will start to take on more milk during each feed, gradually increasing to 2-3oz (60-90ml) then 3-4oz (90 - 120ml) from each bottle.

It can be a good idea to make up roughly 1oz (30ml) more formula milk in each bottle than you expect your baby to eat during a feed as this will ensure that a plentiful supply is available and stop you having to mix up some afresh if they're still hungry. Once your baby starts to finish the bottle on a regular basis (although you should never try and force your baby to drain the bottle) you'll know that their appetite is growing.

2 month old - Once your baby reaches two months of age they'll typically need to feed between 6 and 8 times a day, consuming 4 - 6oz (120-180ml) from each bottle.

4 month old - 4 month old babies will typically need 4 - 5 bottles a day, consuming between 6 and 7oz (180ml - 200ml) each feed.

6 month old - By the time your baby reaches 6 months of age they'll typically feed 3 or 4 times a day, consuming 7-8oz (200-220ml) from each bottle.

Once you start introducing solids into your baby's diet the amount of milk they need during a day will gradually start to decrease. However, most infants will still need 20oz (600ml) of formula milk a day even when they're established on solids as they are unlikely to get all the nutrients they need from the small amounts of food they consume.

Many parents find that giving their baby a full bottle in the morning, a full bottle before bed and supplementing meals will a smaller drink of formula milk is a good routine, however over time you'll find one that works best for you and your baby.

1 year old - Once your baby reaches a year old you can begin to wean them on to full fat cows milk. You should aim to give them at least 12oz (350ml) a day to ensure they continue to get all the nutrients they need.

How can I tell if my baby is hungry?

Babies do cry when they're hungry however there are usually lots of signs that they want feeding before they resort to this. Over time you'll tune in to your baby's hunger cues and these will help you to feed your baby 'on demand'.

Typical signs that your baby is hungry include:
  • Rooting (baby moves their mouth in the direction of something that touches their cheek)
  • Sucking their fingers or hands
  • Smacking their lips
  • Opening their mouth and moving their head from side to side
  • Crying
It's important to remember that not all cries mean that your baby is hungry, particularly if they've recently been fed. Crying can mean that your baby is tired, wet or just wants some attention instead.

How can I tell when my baby has had enough formula milk?

Once your baby has had his or her fill he or she will begin to turn away from the bottle, appearing relaxed and contented.

If your baby has drained the bottle and is still hungry you'll notice that they will continue to look around for more food after you take the bottle away. Try giving them another ounce (30ml) of formula milk at a time until they appear sated.

Remember, if you ever have any concerns about whether your baby is getting enough formula milk you should speak to your doctor or health visitor as they will be in the best position to advise you.

Whether you have a question about formula feeding or something completely different, why not visit the AskBaby forums for a chat with other parents.

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My daughter takes 8oz every 4 hours and sometimes asks for another oz. She is the most content baby I have ever come across, smiles first thing in the morning and naps for 30 minutes twice a day, would like longer but maybe she misses mum lol!!!. Sleeps for 11 - 13 hours straight at night. She is putting on weight etc perfectly. The Health Visitor is over the moon. So I am more than happy. If babies want more of anything, they will let you know that's for sure.
by Snook 11th Apr 2011, 9:36am
i have a 9 month old son who has 4-5 bottles how do i cut them down?
by sami92 4th Oct 2010, 11:17am
even though the comment below was written months ago - i'm gonna add my input anyway ( for anyone else sharing the concerns) my boy is almost 2 weeks, and is drinking just under 3oz bottles at every feed - 3oz is roughly 90ml so there is nothing to worry about there. I doubt there is such a thing as overfeeding a baba, as they only drink as much as they want - they will just turn away or fall asleep, or keep sucking but not swallowing ( just playing with the bottle teet) when they have enough.. and as we all know by now - your baby will let you know if their still hungry lol!

as long as baby is feeding on something every couple of hours, be it half an ounce(15ml) or 4oz (110ml) - or more, and goes off to sleep happy afterwards, no need to worry. - newborns are born with a stomach that can hold only about 8ml and they gradually stretch the stomach out to hold more food. Ps, when babies are born they have to develop an appetite (in the belly they didnt have any say on what food they were getting!) and they need to get used to feeding and digesting their own food rather than what the mother supplied through the cord. Dont forget, there is no such thing as 'normal' - every baby is different and will want or do things different.

and the best advice i was ever given was this,
"your mother, or any mother, or midwife or health visitor might have the answers to your questions, but no one on this earth knows YOUR baby better than you" take care lovelies x
by ErinErinErin 13th Sep 2010, 9:58am
currently my baby is only 2wks but he is consuming abt 90ml - 100ml formula each feeding...
Will that be too much...? understand that if breastfeed will not be overfeed but what about on formula? Will they be overfeed?
by jt0016 11th Jun 2010, 5:39pm
my baby is only 25 days, she drink 3 oz every 2 hrs. Is that normal?
by denise5 18th May 2010, 4:46pm
hi my baby is 12days old and seems like he is always hungry, he weighed 8lb 3oz at birth and now weighs 8lb 12oz, he is feeding on sma gold and will finish a 40z bottle as smaller amounts never seem to fill him up, after about 90mins he is hungry again, is this normal
by rachelf1987 14th May 2010, 5:02pm
My 4 month daughter is drinking 4 oz every 4 hours and sometimes she doesnt want her milk at all and then i try to give her baby food like baby cereal or baby vegetable and she actually eats it, so i guess she is getting tired of formula, once in a while.
by Liliya1982 14th May 2010, 4:15pm
hi my baby boy is about nine wks old, n he gt 2 be fed by tube, every 4 hrs, n he can have a bottle, twice aday 4 10 mnutes. but im not sure if he gettin enough.
by kayls88 14th May 2010, 3:26pm
Like alot of people on here, my babe 21 weeks was drinking TONS the past 3-4 5-6 ounces every 2 and a half hours. And now he has 3 ounces, we burp him and then we really have to encourage him to drink after that. He seems happy and content but just has no real interest in eating? Does anyone know if this is normal?? He doesn't act, sick or fussy,,,just uniterested in drinking his formula
by Tfras 1st Feb 2010, 9:23am
hi my baby is 10 weeks old and is only drinking between 3-4 oz every 3hrs im also worried like simsima is.The Cow and Gates packet says she should be having 6 oz at 2 months i struggle to get her to have the 4 dose any one have any advice is this normal
by stefc 21st Jan 2010, 9:22am
Hi My 10 week old is 4.5kg's and only drinks a max of 3oz at each of her bottle feeds on formula (3 times a day) and about 30 mins when I breast feed her (3 times a day) - I am worried she isn't drinking enough for her age.
by simsima 6th Jan 2010, 11:41am
my baby is over 4 months and he was taking six to seven ounce 4 to 5 times a day. He has also been very fussy and irritable over the last month i think he might have been going through a growth spurt. but now he has cut back on his feed to only 4 ounce 4 to five times a day. he used to take more than 4 ounce even when he was only a month old. please help what could be wrong with him
by rbh 11th Dec 2009, 9:27am
My son is 21 weeks old and has a strange feeding pattern (I think) and I'm concerned that he is not getting enough fluid even though he is 19 lbs already, he was 10 lbs when he was born!

100ml 7am
100ml 11am
80ml 12pm
120-150ml 3pm
210ml 7pm
210ml 11pm

I find it odd as he is not really interested in his feeds up until 7pm I have to force him to drink. Any advise would be good!?
by SpannerMac 29th Jul 2009, 9:04am
my baby is very windy and is 8 weeks old, and is having between 3 and 5 oz every 4 hours with a struggle, but its very hard to feed her after 9pm as she just isnt interested. she wakes about 4am and will only have about 3 oz. im worried she isnt having enough??im giving her infacol before every feed and she isnt crying as much but still seems very windy??any advice??
by tired2 14th Apr 2009, 12:57pm
my baby is 7 weeks old and is only having 2 1/2 - 3oz, sometimes the first bottle of the day she will have 3 1/2oz. she is having this every 3 hours during the day. Her last bottle is at 10pm and then she wakes between 5.30/6am, is this a normal amount of milk for her to be drinking?? She has been doing this since she was 3 weeks old.
by 366 6th Apr 2009, 9:27am
My 4 and a half month old son has 2 solid meals a day. Each meal is equivilant to the size of approx 3 tablespoons. He only consumes between 6 and 7oomls of milk formula in 24 hours and I wonder weather he is getting enough fluids for the day. Please advise.
by tntewiki 27th Mar 2009, 9:27am
acutally my baby is no having milk according to the chart given, this means that she's not having enough milk,what to do because she doesn't ask for more milk as she is three and half months old,
Please advise
by akone 23rd Jan 2009, 8:51am