Newborn and Baby Feeding Schedule: How Much Should a 3-6 Month-Old Eat?

baby nursing

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When your baby is 3 months old, they have reached an important milestone—they are no longer considered a newborn. During this stage of 3 to 6 months, you can expect to see a lot of exciting changes in your baby. Aside from changing in appearance, your baby also will smile more, use their hands more frequently, and be more aware of the world around them.

When feeding, they may turn their heads or unlatch from your breast or the bottle to watch what is going on around them. For this reason, you may need to feed them in a quiet place to ensure they are eating as they should. Here are some other things you need to know about feeding your baby during this stage in their life.

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 Baby Need When They Are 3-6 Months Old

Babies this age may start sleeping longer stretches at night, which means they will make up for the lost feedings during the day. Even though they won't need as much sleep as they did when they were a newborn, they will still need lots of sleep, especially when they are 3 to 4 months old.

Plus, your baby is doing a lot of growing. By the end of this stage—at about 5 to 6 months of age—your baby has likely doubled their birth weight.

Because of this rapid growth, many pediatricians suggest using baby-led feeding, which means you feed your baby when they are hungry rather than sticking to a strict schedule. Using baby-led feeding is especially important because it allows you to respond to your baby's growth spurts.

When babies are going through a growth spurt, they may start cluster feeding, or grouping several feedings close together. Cluster feeding is particularly evident in breastfed babies who begin nursing more frequently during growth spurts. This type of feeding causes their parent's breast milk supply to increase to support their growing needs.

Once your baby reaches the end of this stage, their growth rate will slow down somewhat. In fact, it may take them another six months or longer to triple their birth weight. Stay on track with your well-visits during this time period as your baby's doctor will monitor their growth to ensure they are growing as expected.

Also, keep in mind that both breastfed and bottle-fed babies get more efficient at eating at this age. As a result, breastfed babies may spend less time as the breast and bottle-fed babies may start collapsing the nipple or getting frustrated with the flow of milk. If this happens, you may need to purchase different nipples for your bottles.

Danielle Roberts, MD

If your baby is bottle-fed and they are starting to collapse the nipple, that can be a sign they are sucking too hard and are ready for a faster flowing nipple.

— Danielle Roberts, MD

Or, if your child is taking a long time to eat and seems to be getting frustrated that may be another sign they are ready for a faster flow nipple. Gagging or choking sounds may indicate that they need a slower flow nipple, Danielle Roberts, MD, a pediatrician in Zanesville, Ohio says.

How Much to Feed a 3-6 Month Old

By the time your baby reaches 4 months old, they are likely taking about 4 to 6 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk per feeding every 3 to 4 hours. By 6 months, your baby is probably taking 6 to 8 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk every 4 to 5 hours.

"Every baby is different, but in general your baby typically needs about 90kcal/kg/day or 40kcal per pound of weight per day," says Dr. Roberts. "Their total intake during the day also depends on how long they sleep at night. If they miss a few feeds in the middle of the night, they may need to eat larger volumes or more frequently during the day than an infant who wakes up to eat every three hours."

On average, most babies will increase the amount of formula or expressed breast milk that they drink by about an ounce each month before leveling off at about 6 to 8 ounces per feeding. As tempting as it might be, you still need to hold off on introducing solid foods. Don't start solid foods until your baby is about 6 months old.

If you're concerned your baby may not be getting enough to eat, you still have to look no further than their diapers. As long as your baby is still producing at least six wet diapers and several dirty diapers in a day's time, they are probably getting enough milk. If your child is growing well and not having several dirty diapers a day, though, don't panic, Dr. Roberts says.

"Some infants will have several dirty diapers a day and some infants can go several days in between dirty diapers. As long as the bowel movement is soft that is a reassuring sign," she says.

Overfeeding Conerns

Babies are pretty good at eating just the right amount for their bodies, but there are times when they can take in more than they need. If your baby is drinking from a bottle, they are more likely to overfeed than a breastfed baby because a bottle takes less effort.

If your baby is getting too much food at a time, they may experience stomach pains, gas, or spit-up. As a result, it's better to offer less at first because you can always offer more if they appear to still be hungry.

Doing so also gives your baby time to decide if they are still hungry or not. If your baby indicates they want more, respond with more. Remember, you don't want to force a baby to eat after they have stopped and you don't want to withhold feeding if your baby is hungry.

Baby Feeding Goals for 3-6 Months Old

When your baby was a newborn, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended calculating your baby's daily nutritional needs based on their weight—or giving your baby 2.5 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk for every pound that they weigh. (Nursing moms were advised to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours for approximately 15 minutes on each breast.) They also advised responding to your baby's hunger and fullness cues along the way.

Now that your baby is a little older, Dr. Roberts indicates that you don't have to do those calculations any longer unless your baby is not gaining weight or is underweight. At this stage, your goal is to ensure that your baby is eating regularly and consuming the recommended amount of formula or breast milk.

"Babies also may start to space their feedings out a little longer than the newborn stage because they are more efficient at eating and can take more breast milk or formula at a time," Dr. Roberts says. "On average, they will eat every 3 to 4 hours. However, breastfed infants may need to eat more frequently at the beginning of this stage because breast milk is digested more quickly than formula."

At first, you may worry about the missed nighttime feedings especially after getting used to feeding your baby around the clock. But you probably have nothing to worry about if your infant sleeps 5 to 6 hours at night. It's also unlikely that you will need to wake them to feed. Unless there is a medical reason why they need to eat at night, it is generally OK to let them sleep.

"Discuss this new change with your baby's doctor," Dr. Roberts advises. "But, typically, this age can handle feeding on demand and may start to go longer periods at night between feedings."

For babies who are breastfed, you should be feeding your baby every 3 to 4 hours at this stage and nursing for about 15 minutes on each breast. Formula-fed babies also will eat every 3 to 4 hours and may take anywhere from 4 to 8 ounces depending on their age.

Here are some general guidelines on how much your baby should eat based on their age. Remember, these guidelines are helpful for providing an idea of approximately how much a baby might need, but each baby is different and their needs can change from day to day.

How Much a Baby 3 to 6 Months Need Per Feeding
Age Formula Expressed Milk Breastfeeding
3 months 4 to 5 ounces  3 to 4 ounces 15 minutes per breast
4 to 6 4 to 6 15
5 4 to 8 4 to 6 15
6 6 to 8 5 to 8 15

Sample Baby Feeding Schedules

Keep in mind that your baby's feeding schedule will be unique, but it can be helpful to have a sample feeding schedule as a guide for how much and how often a typical 3 to 6 month old will eat. Work with your pediatrician to determine a more personalized approach to feeding your baby.

3 Month Old Formula-Fed Infant

  • 6 a.m. — 4 ounces of formula
  • 9 a.m. — 4 ounces of formula
  • 12 p.m. — 4 ounces of formula
  • 3 p.m. — 4 ounces of formula
  • 6 p.m. — 4 ounces of formula
  • 9 p.m. — 4 ounces of formula
  • 1 a.m. — 4 ounces of formula

3 Month Old Combination-Fed Infant

  • 6 a.m. — Breastfeed for 15 minutes each breast
  • 9 a.m. — 4 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk
  • 12 p.m. — 4 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk
  • 3 p.m. — 4 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk
  • 6 p.m. — Breastfeed for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 9 p.m. — Breastfeed for 15 minutes on each breast
  • 1 a.m. — 4 ounces of formula or expressed breast milk

3 Month Old Breastfed Infant

  • 5 a.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts
  • 7 a.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts
  • 10 a.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts
  • 12 p.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts
  • 3 p.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts
  • 6 p.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts
  • 9 p.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts
  • 1 a.m. — Breastfeed on both breasts

How to Know if Your Baby Is Getting Enough to Eat

You should always be mindful of your baby's hunger cues as well as keep track of their wet and dirty diapers. These things are your best gauge—along with your baby's well-visits—that they are getting plenty to eat and growing appropriately.

During your baby's regular checkups, your pediatrician will check your baby's weight and plot it on a growth chart. Your baby's progress will let the doctor know whether or not your baby is getting adequate amounts of food.

At home, your baby will show signs of being satiated. They will unlatch from the breast or bottle when they have had enough. They also will appear satisfied for 1 to 3 hours after eating.

Another way to gauge whether your baby is getting enough is by paying attention to what's in their diapers. A baby should have at least five to six wet diapers a day and should have at least two dirty diapers a day. Of course, their stool frequency will vary depending on whether or not they are breastfed or formula-fed.

"Sometimes during this stage, parents will notice irritability, spitting up, mucus in the stools, or even bloody stools," Dr. Roberts warns. "If this happens, be sure to talk to your doctor. It's possible that your baby could have an allergy to the protein in milk."

A Word From Verywell

By now, you are probably establishing a regular feeding schedule for your baby and things are starting to feel at little less chaotic than they did when you first came home from the hospital. Remember, you should be feeding your baby when they are hungry and stopping when they are full.

You want to stay tuned into your baby's hunger and fullness cues at this age, and allow them to determine how much they eat. Doing so helps them develop a sense of body autonomy that can affect their relationship with food and their body for life.

Make sure you are staying on track with your baby's well-visits and continue to watch for signs of feeling full and satisfied after a feeding. Also, if you have questions about nursing, are experiencing pain or discomfort, or have questions about your baby's latch, reach out to a certified lactation consultant.

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3 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. Waseem M, Thakore K, Campbell N, Lominy M-M, Shariff MA, Rosario D. Are infants doubling their birth weight sooner? In: Council on Community Pediatrics Program. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2021:32-33. doi:10.1542/peds.147.3_MeetingAbstract.32

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. How often and how much should your baby eat? Updated October 29, 2020.

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to tell if your breastfed baby is getting enough milk. Updated August 7, 2020.

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