How Much Formula Should a Newborn Eat?

Guidelines can help take the guessing out of feeding your little one

Mother bottle feeding baby at home.

Tara Moore / The Image Bank / Getty Images

How much should a newborn eat? The amount a baby needs to eat isn't an exact science, because every baby is different. There is a simple equation you can use to get a rough estimate of how many ounces your baby needs each day. Combined with learning your baby's hunger and fullness cues, the number can serve as a starting point for feeding.

Signs of Hunger and Fullness

Whether you're using a formula, nursing, pumping, or a combination of all these feeding methods, tune in to your baby's hunger and fullness cues before you start crunching numbers. While each baby is unique, these are are some common hunger cues to watch for:

  • Crying or fussiness
  • Opening of his mouth when touched on his chin or lips
  • Smacking of lips or making small sounds with his mouth
  • Sucking on fingers or placing fist in mouth

Fullness cues include:

  • Fidgeting or acting distracted
  • Slowing down or falling asleep
  • Spitting out formula
  • Stopping feeding or only taking a few sucks before pausing

How to Calculate Formula Needs

In addition to looking for cues, you can use different formulas to estimate the amount to feed your baby.

By Weight

This equation can be used regardless of what type of infant formula you use (cow milk formula, soy-based formula, etc).

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a baby should consume, on average, about 2.5 ounces of formula a day for every pound of their body weight.

Most babies are satisfied with 3 to 4 ounces per feeding in the first month. You'll begin to increase the amount by 1 ounce per month, leveling off at about 7 to 8 ounces per feeding.

For example, a 12-pound baby would likely need 30 ounces in a 24-hour period. To determine how many ounces per bottle, divide the ounces needed in a 24-hour period by the number of feedings your baby takes during that time. Therefore, if your 12-pound baby needs 30 ounces a day and takes 6 bottles in a 24-hour period, then each bottle would need to be approximately 5 ounces.

Baby Weight in Pounds

Ounces of Formula per Day

4 lbs.

10 oz.

5

12.5

6

15

7

17.5

8

20

9

22.5

10

25

11

27.5

12

30

13

32.5

14

35

15

37.5

By Age

You can also estimate formula needs by your infant's age.

  • Newborns: 2 to 3 ounces per feeding
  • One month: 4 ounces per feeding
  • Two months: 4 to 5 ounces per feeding
  • Four months: 4 to 6 ounces per feeding
  • Six months: 6 to 8 ounces per feeding

Signs of Over or Underfeeding

Signs that you are not feeding your baby enough can include persistent crying, decreased urine output, a wrinkly look to the skin, dry roof of the mouth, and increased sleep. Your baby should be wetting at least four diapers a day. Their bowel movements should be no firmer than peanut butter. Hard or dry stools can be a sign that your baby is not adequately hydrated.

Signs that you might be overfeeding may include spitting up or vomiting, crying, pulling up legs to the abdomen, and behaviors that resemble colic.

Generally speaking, it's best to time feedings to allow your baby to take bottles that have less formula, which means you'll be giving them more frequently (as opposed to giving larger amounts of formula less often). If you are concerned about your baby's weight, or if you think they are losing or gaining weight too rapidly, talk to your pediatrician.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Shelov SP, Altmann TR, Hannermann RE, eds. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5, 6th Edition. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2014.

Additional Reading