When I left the hospital with my babies, both, I needed to supplement them for weight loss and jaundice. We were using a combination of pumped breast milk and formula after each breastfeed. I wasn’t given much direction on discharge as to how much to give them and felt really lost. I didn’t want to over or under feed them. I had to quickly reach out to a friend in public health to get the amounts of formula I should be giving them. Whether you are exclusively bottle feeding, giving expressed breast milk to supplementing your baby this article is going to help you know how much to give your baby.
When feeding our babies, we need to be feeding them when they seem hungry, watching for the hunger cues. This is called feeding demand – watching our babies for cues instead of the clock. Most newborns will feed every 2-3 hours regardless of whether its breast or bottle. At birth, your babies’ stomach is only the size of a cherry and stretches to the size of a walnut by 48hrs! As they get bigger and their stomachs can hold more milk, they will stretch that to 3-4 hours. If you’re unsure of how often you should be feeding your baby, always talk to your doctor about how frequent feeds should be. This is especially important if we are carefully watching their weight or jaundice levels.
What are signs that my baby is hungry (hunger cues)
- Moving their heads from side to side
- Opening their mouths
- Sticking their tongue out
- Sucking or brining their hands and fingers to their mouths
- Puckering their lips to suck
- Nuzzling or pecking at their mother’s breasts/chest
- Showing the rooting reflex – moving its move in the direction of what is touching their check
- Crying – this is a late sign of hunger!
Babies go through periods of rapid growth called growth spurts. You can expect growth spurts to happen at approximately:
- 1-2 weeks old
- 4-6 weeks
- 4 months
- 6 months
During growth spurts its important to follow your baby’s hunger cues and continue to feed on demand, increasing the amount of formula as needed. When bottle-feeding its important to feed your babysitting up using the Paced Method of Bottle-Feeding. The Paced Method allows your baby to in more control of the feeding pace and slows down the flow of milk into the nipple of the bottle and the mouth, allowing the baby to eat more slowly and take breaks.
In the first couple of weeks, your baby only needs 1-3ounces of formula at each feed. At around 2 months your baby will be consuming between 3-5 ounces at each feed. At six months when you start to introduce solids to your baby you may see the amount of formula your baby needs to decrease a small amount and on average, they need 4-8 ounces at each feed.
My favourite chart of how much formula to give your baby comes from Alberta Health Services. Here is the link for you to look at and print out. Remember there is quite a large range of how much your baby should take over 24 hours to follow your baby’s cues of being hungry and full.
Your local Mama Coach is right around the corner and/or can reach virtually to do a feeding assessment with your and your baby to help navigate feeding. We are here to help and make it easier for you!