Newborn and Baby Feeding Schedules

Newborn nursing

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Now that you're home from the hospital with your little bundle of joy, you are probably starting to settle in and get to know one another. While it may feel like one continuous day as you feed your baby every 2 to 3 hours and change diapers around the clock, things will eventually morph into a routine.

Until then, tune into your baby's hunger signals and try to feed your baby on demand. This might seem like a lot but newborns have tiny tummies so they need to eat often as they are regaining the weight they lost after birth and establishing a good eating pattern. You still may wonder how much your newborn, 1-month-old, 2-month-old, or older baby should eat.

A good rule of thumb is to feed newborns every 2 to 3 hours. This frequency becomes every 3 to 4 hours in two to three months. Newborns should eat between 1 and 2 ounces per feeding, then 3 to 4 ounces per meal by 2 to 3 months old. Learn more about how much to feed your baby in the first three months of life.

Feeding Your 0- to 3-Month-Old Baby

Regardless of whether you are breastfeeding, formula-feeding, or using a combination of both, figuring out how much your baby should eat can feel a little overwhelming. You may worry that your baby is not eating enough, especially if you're nursing. So much of this initial time with your baby is spent developing a relationship and trusting not only your own body but also your baby's.

We've tried to take some of the stress out of this situation by providing you with guidelines on how much milk your newborn needs. This information isn't meant to be prescriptive but rather a general guide that will give you a rough idea of how much a baby needs so that you can observe your own baby and adapt the recommendations to their personal needs.

Fed Is Best

At Verywell Family, we want to support parents by giving them information about all of the ways they can feed their newborns and babies—be it breastfeeding or bottle feeding. At the end of the day, "fed is best."

What Does a Newborn to 3-Month-Old Baby Need?

When you bring your baby home from the hospital, their primary needs are to be fed when hungry, have their diapers changed consistently, have their umbilical cord cared for, be put to sleep on their back, and, most importantly, to be cuddled and nurtured by their parent or parents. According to Dr. Danielle Roberts, a pediatrician in Zanesville, Ohio, this time period in a baby's life can feel a little rough as everyone adapts, but it goes by quickly.

Danielle Roberts, MD

It's normal for infants to consume nutrition every two hours day and night. They do not have much fat storage at this age to pull from so their blood sugars can drop if they go long periods of time without eating.

— Danielle Roberts, MD

For instance, a breastfed infant will nurse every 2 to 3 hours or 8 to 12 times per day, Dr. Roberts says. All of this eating is designed to help them meet some important growth milestones.

Most babies will experience a 5% to 10% weight loss during the first week of life. This is completely normal. If your baby loses more than this, your doctor will likely give you some special instructions for feeding. But, around the second week, most babies should return to their birth weight. Your pediatrician will be looking for this weight gain at their first well-visit. These changes in weight are one of the reasons well visits are more frequent during the first month of life.

After that, a gain of about an ounce a day is normal. Again, your pediatrician will likely monitor your baby's weight gain each time you're in their office and help determine what is normal for your baby. At around 3 months, your baby can be expected to gain around a pound a month. In those first few weeks, be sure that you are responding to hunger cues and feeding your baby regularly around the clock.

"Some young infants may not be back to birth weight yet and have very little fat stores or reserves to pull from. Your pediatrician may advise that you wake your infant every 3 to 4 hours to ensure consistent [energy intake]," Dr. Roberts says. "Keep in mind, some infants with jaundice may be more sleepy and less likely to wake on their own."

Once your baby is growing consistently, Dr. Roberts says that your medical provider may indicate that it's no longer necessary to wake your baby for feedings at night and can go to an on-demand schedule.

"This is very exciting news to tell families they may get longer stretches of sleep," she says. "Again, though, it's important to keep up with your routine visits to make sure your infant is still growing well on their on-demand feeding regimen as well."

How Much Should a Newborn Eat?

According to Dr. Roberts, newborns have tiny stomachs that are no bigger than a ping pong ball, so they cannot hold much milk at one time. Over time, their stomachs will stretch to accommodate larger volumes.

"Initially, an infant may take only 30ml (or 1 ounce) and may quickly increase to 90ml (or 3 ounces)," Roberts says. "This amount can be difficult to assess for breastfeeding babies, but we typically recommend 5 to 20 minutes on each breast. The variation in time depends on the mother's milk letdown and how quickly that is occurring as well as how strong the infant's suck is."

Remember, human milk changes to meet a baby's changing nutritional needs, so it may be more concentrated with fat in the beginning. For this reason, it's important for an infant to try to nurse on each breast during every feeding session in order to consume the most amount of breast milk at each nursing session. The overall goal at this age is to consume 120kcal/kg/day (or 55 kilocalories per pound of weight every 24 hours) to support optimal nutrition at this age, Dr. Roberts says.

"Your pediatrician can help you calculate the total ounces of breast milk or formula to support your growing baby," she says.

Signs Your Baby Is Hungry

Learning your baby's hunger cues helps you determine when they are ready to eat (or know if they need more food). Plus, recognizing hunger cues can help you get your baby fed before they start crying. Here are some signs that your baby might be ready to eat:

  • Showing signs of the rooting reflex (turning their head to the side with their mouth open)
  • Licking their lips
  • Sucking on their hands or anything within reach like your arm or shirt
  • Nuzzling against your breasts
  • Opening their mouth
  • Sticking their tongue out
  • Licking their lips
  • Being fussy or crying

If you notice these signs you may want to offer your baby the breast or a bottle, depending on your preferred method of feeding.

Baby Feeding Charts

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) indicates that on average, a baby this age will consume about 2.5 ounces of formula a day for every pound of their body weight while breastfed babies might consume about 2 to 2.5 ounces of expressed milk for every pound of their body weight. Additionally, your baby will likely eat 8 to 10 times in a 24-hour period.

As they get older both breastfed and formula-fed babies are typically satisfied with about 2 to 4 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk per feeding. Watch for your baby's hunger cues and work with your pediatrician to determine the total number of ounces in a day's time your baby should be eating. Here are some recommendations based on the AAP guidelines.

How Much an Infant 0 to 3 Months Old Needs Per Day
 Weight Formula Expressed Milk  Breastfeeding
4 lbs 10 oz. 10 oz. 15 min per breast at each feeding
6 15 15 15
8 20 20 15
10 25 25 15
12 30 30 15
14 35 35 15

You also can estimate how much milk your baby needs based on their age.

  • Newborn: 2 to 3 ounces per formula feeding or expressed breast milk per feeding
  • 1-month-old: 3 to 4 ounces per formula feeding or 2 to 4 ounces of expressed breast milk per feeding
  • 2-month-old: 4 to 5 ounces per formula feeding or 3 to 4 ounces of expressed breast milk per feeding
  • 3-month-old: 4 to 5 ounces per formula feeding or 3 to 4 ounces of expressed breast milk per feeding

According to Dr. Roberts, the important thing to remember is that every child is different. The numbers in the above charts are meant only as guidelines.

In general, try to feed your baby when they're hungry and allow them to stop when they are full. As tempting as it may be to get them to finish those that last ounce, try not to force it. Babies are very good at regulating how much food they need to eat. As you get to know your little one, you will come to know what to expect in terms of feeding.

Sample Baby Feeding Schedules

Here are some sample feeding charts that illustrate what an average day might look like when feeding your infant. Keep in mind though that every baby is different, so your baby may eat more or less than what is listed here. If you want a more personalized chart, talk to your pediatrician about what you should expect with your baby.

1-Month-Old Breastfed Infant

  • 5 a.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 7 a.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 10 a.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 1 p.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 4 p.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 6 p.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 9 p.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 12 a.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 3 a.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast

1-Month-Old Combination-Fed Infant

  • 5 a.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 8 a.m. — 3 ounces of expressed milk
  • 11 a.m. — 3 ounces of expressed milk
  • 2 p.m. — 3 ounces of expressed milk
  • 5 p.m. — 3 ounces of expressed milk
  • 7 p.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 9 p.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 1 a.m. — Nurses for 15 minutes on each breast

1-Month-Old Formula-Fed Infant

  • 6 a.m. — 3 ounces of formula
  • 9 a.m. — 3 ounces of formula
  • 12 p.m. — 3 ounces of formula
  • 3 p.m. — 3 ounces of formula
  • 6 p.m. — 3 ounces of formula
  • 9 p.m. — 3 ounces of formula
  • 1 a.m. — 3 ounces of formula
  • 5 a.m. — 3 ounces of formula

Is My Baby Getting Enough to Eat?

Regardless of how your baby is fed, they will appear satiated after eating if they have gotten the proper amount of food. If they are not getting enough, their mood will be your first sign that they are still hungry.

For instance, if they're still hungry they're likely to cry, fuss, or suck on things after their feedings. But, use caution here, because sometimes these signs can be an indicator of something else like colic, gas, or even reflux.

Another way to tell if your baby is satisfied is to track the number of wet diapers they have in a 24-hour period. Infants greater than 1 week old should have at least six wet diapers per day and the urine should be pale yellow. 

Paying attention to your baby's weight gain also can help you determine if they have been fed enough. The average weight gain for newborns is about 4 to 7 ounces per week. If your baby is gaining less, they may not be getting enough to eat. Your pediatrician can help you determine if your child's weight gain and growth are on track or something to be concerned about.

If you think that your baby may not be eating enough or they are not producing enough wet diapers, contact your pediatrician right away. They can determine if there is an underlying issue and help you figure out a healthy feeding plan for your baby.

A Word From Verywell

Although it can be stressful wondering if your newborn is eating enough—especially in those first days—you should rest assured that everything is probably fine as long as your baby is producing enough wet diapers and is gaining weight.

Try not to focus too much on how much they are eating, and instead allow your baby to guide you. By feeding them when they are hungry and stopping when they are full, your baby will likely be just fine.

Ultimately, your child's well-child visits with their pediatrician will be the best indicator that your baby is eating and growing at a rate that is right for them. And, if you are very concerned, be sure to reach out to your baby's doctor.

2 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. American Academy of Pediatrics. How often and how much should your baby eat?

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Amount and schedule of formula feedings.

Additional Reading

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.