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.
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:
- 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
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.