How Much Should a Baby Eat?

Father carrying baby son while preparing his bottle in the kitchen

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All babies are different, but there are nutritional guidelines that can help parents determine if their baby is getting enough to eat at each feeding. Multiple factors influence how much each baby should eat, including their age and size and whether they are breastfed, formula-fed, or a combination of the two. Feeding guidelines can be helpful, but it is important to remember that they are averages and parents should always check with their doctor for specific guidance.

How Many Ounces Should a Baby Eat?

The quantity guidelines for feeding a baby depend on whether they are drinking breastmilk or formula. Note that exclusive breastfeeding is ideal and the recommended feeding method for babies until six months of age, as it offers optimal nutrition as well as immune protection and lifelong health benefits. If breastfeeding is not an option or preferred, baby formula can be used instead.

For breastfed babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends nursing newborn babies a minimum of eight times every 24 hours as well as whenever they show signs of hunger. Once feeding and growth are well-established, nursing moms can move to nursing on demand.

For formula-fed babies, there is no specific amount of formula that all babies should get each day. However, the AAP suggests that on average, your baby needs about 2 1/2 ounces of formula a day for every pound of body weight. For example, a 3-month-old baby weighing 13 pounds needs about 32 1/2 ounces a day. However, some young babies of the same age may drink 22 ounces a day, others may need 34 ounces or more.

General Formula Feeding Amounts

  • Newborn 2-3 ounces per feeding
  • 1-month old 4 ounces per feeding
  • 2-month old 4-5 ounces per feeding
  • 3-month old 5 ounces per feeding
  • 4 -month old 5-6 ounces per feeding
  • 5-month old 6-7 ounces per feeding
  • 6-month old 6-8 ounces per feeding


As a general rule, babies begin to increase the amount of formula they drink per feeding by about an ounce each month up to around 7 to 8 ounces by six months of age, which is when they begin eating solid foods. As noted above, keep in mind that these are averages, and some babies require more or less formula at each feeding and on each day. Also, know that babies may eat more or less on any given day and that they will likely eat a bit more during growth spurts as well.

How to Tell if Your Baby Is Hungry

While babies can't talk, they are quite effective at communicating their needs. Once you know what to look for, you'll recognize when your baby is hungry. Typical hunger signs include the following:

  • Alertness
  • Crying
  • Fussiness
  • Lip-smacking
  • Opening and closing their mouth
  • Putting hands or fists to their mouth
  • Rooting, a reflex that prompts babies to turn their heads from side to side in search of the nipple
  • Sucking on hands or fists

How to Know If Baby Is Eating Enough

Parents and doctors determine if a baby is getting enough to eat by monitoring their growth at regular pediatrician checkups, general well-being and mood (do they seem alert and content or are they fussy or agitated), and their wet and soiled diaper output.

Generally, if your baby seems satisfied between feedings and is gaining weight normally, then they are likely eating enough. If your baby is consistently eating more or less than the average feeding amounts, though, check with their pediatrician. Additionally, make sure that you are recognizing your baby's hunger signals and that they are gaining weight normally.

How many wet or soiled diapers a baby produces per day will vary by age, weight, and whether they are breastfed or formula-fed. Typically, newborns produce six wet diapers daily and three to 10 soiled diapers. Breastfed babies produce a yellow, seedy, runny stool. Formula-fed babies make a thicker, darker stool.

Sleeping Through the Night

While some babies sleep through the night by 3 months, others still need at least one middle-of-the-night feeding. If your baby is waking during the night and you aren't sure if they are really hungry, try to put them back to bed without giving them a bottle and see what happens. If don't go back to sleep or quickly wake up again, then you likely need to continue with middle-of-the-night feedings for a few more weeks or months.

Keep in mind that sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone that babies reach at their own pace, and is not necessarily related to hunger. That is why feeding cereal at bedtime often doesn't help a baby sleep longer.

Formula Feeding Safety

If you aren't breastfeeding, choosing a baby formula is not as complicated as many ads make it out to be. While parents have many baby formula choices these days, there is really no single best formula for every baby; many will work just fine. Talk to your pediatrician about the best one for your baby and before you switch formula, especially if you are concerned about the latest formula marketing trends. For your baby's safety:

  • Never warm baby bottles in a microwave oven. They can get too hot or heat unevenly and burn your baby.
  • Avoid switching to whole milk until your infant is at least 12 months old. They need the nutrients in formula (or breastmilk) until then.
  • Limit fluoride. Because of the risk of mild fluorosis, or too much fluoride, which can cause light white marks on the teeth, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises that parents limit the amount of fluoridated water babies get, particularly if they are exclusively formula-fed. (Formulas often contain fluoride as well.) Instead of fluoridated tap water or bottled water with fluoride, the ADA recommends mixing formula with fluoride-free bottled water. However, by the time they are 6 months old, babies will need some fluoride for healthy teeth.

A Word From Verywell

Remember that all babies are different and some may eat slightly more and some slightly less. The important thing is to watch for hunger cues and pay attention to things like diaper changes and growth charts. Additionally, trust your instincts—you know your baby and their needs best. If you are regularly breastfeeding or feeding your baby formula on a regular schedule and they seem full and content, your baby is likely eating just fine.

Additionally, while formula and breastfeeding guidelines can be helpful, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations and reach out to your child’s pediatrician if you ever have any concerns about how much your baby is eating.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Sample Hospital Breastfeeding Policy.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Amount and schedule of formula feedings. Updated July 24, 2018.

  3. American Dental Association. Fluoridation FAQs.

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