The amount you should feed your baby depends on their age. Mothers use a baby feeding chart to guide them in the appropriate amounts and feedings per day for their babies. Having a baby means you’re responsible for a tiny person and all their needs, including their feeding requirements. There is consequently conflicting information about how much you feed your baby so you must have the knowledge to make informed choices about feeding.
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The amount you should feed your baby plays into many concerns. The breast milk vs. formula debate particularly adds to the confusion for new and experienced mothers. Breastmilk is better than formula but which you should use ultimately depends on the mother and child. You’ll also encounter terms like feeding on demand and complementary feeding. The former refers to feeding when a baby wants, while the latter refers to the incorporation of solids and formula or breast milk. Both play a role in how much you should feed your baby. Feeding charts provide a guideline for eating so mothers can schedule formula feeding and measure their expectations for feeding on demand.
Feeding charts are also a good way to measure milestones. For example, our baby feeding chart indicates that you should first try solid foods at six months of age. Other sources may suggest four months, but our feeding charts align with scientifically-validated sources like the World Health Organization, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The following article provides a comprehensive look at how much you feed your baby according to information from pediatricians and other experts in the field. We’ll also explore important facts like baby hunger cues to watch out for, signs you’re overfeeding your baby, signs of food allergies, and the best way to develop your baby’s palate os you so that you can make the best decision for feeding.
Baby Feeding Chart
|Amount Per Feeding
|Feedings Per Day
|Are Solid Foods Okay?
|1-2 ounces (give your infant more if they are still hungry after feeding)
Is breast milk better than formula?
Yes, breast milk is better than formula. The campaign that touts “breast is best” is based on scientific information. Your baby absorbs the vitamins and nutrients in your breast milk better than in formula according to Johns Hopkins University. The John Hopkins article indicates that breastfeeding your baby helps them long after they are weaned from the breast. For example, breastfed babies have better eyesight and perform better on intelligence tests as they age. Improved eyesight and intelligence performances may be linked to how breast milk develops alongside your baby. Your breast milk changes to meet your baby’s development needs as they grow—meaning your breast milk is specifically formulated to assist in developing a two-month-old baby when your little one is two months old. It’s not possible to get the same with baby formula. You’ll instead give your baby the same vitamins and nutrients for its first year.
Don’t feel bad if you use or supplement with formula. Mothers choose formula over breastfeeding for any number of reasons, including reduced milk supply, lack of time, discomfort, or health issues. The research leans in favor of breastfeeding, but Stanford Medicine highlights the benefits of formula milk, providing the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for a baby’s growth. It’s essential to make the best decision for you and your family, even if that means using or supplementing with formula.
Breastfeeding is an important part of your baby’s development if you choose to do it. You’ll learn many things while discovering how to breastfeed, including three important facts. First, managing your milk supply is an essential part of breastfeeding. Certain foods like fennel or milk thistle will increase your milk supply, making them necessary if you’re not producing enough milk for your baby. There’s also a chance that you produce too much milk and, in that situation, there are foods that will help decrease your milk supply. Second, you’ll discover that pumping milk is almost a necessity for moms. You may need to pump milk for when you go back to work or enjoy a date night with your spouse. Learning how to store breast milk is a must if you want to breastfeed exclusively. You can store breast milk in bags or bottles for your baby. It’s essential to label the milk with the date it was pumped so you use the oldest milk in the freezer first. Third, you’ll encounter several myths about what you can and can’t eat while breastfeeding. You may want to avoid certain foods like cabbage while breastfeeding because they reportedly give your baby gas. However, no studies confirm that foods such as broccoli or other commonly attributed gassy foods have the same impact on babies that they do on adults. Other foods, such as spicy foods, will change the flavor of your breast milk.
Is nursing on demand okay?
Yes, nursing on demand is okay. Nursing on demand is recommended by both the World Health Organization and the Stamford Pediatrics Associates. Your baby may not have a feeding schedule during the first few weeks of their life. For example, your baby may nurse every hour or every two hours. However, your baby must be fed as needed so it’s okay to feed whenever they want to. Feedings will become less frequent as your infant gets older, and your little one will consume more at each feeding as your baby knows when they need to be fed.
Feeding your baby formula comes with a wealth of pros and cons. Some examples of pros include convenience and ease of use. Baby formula is more convenient than breastfeeding because it doesn’t require a mother to be home or with the baby at all hours of the day. Formula feeding also doesn’t require pumping, which adds to its lessened learning curve. All you need to create baby formula is to use filtered water, put it in a bottle, add a few scoops of formula, and shake it up. Some cons of baby formula include limited nutritional benefits. Baby formula is not specially formulated for ages and stages of development like your breast milk is. Your baby will instead receive the same nutrition for the first year of life. Furthermore, breastfed babies will develop a more diverse palette than bottle-fed babies because the flavor of your breast milk changes according to the foods you eat (which is not possible with formula).
The consistent breastfeeding vs. formula debate leaves many moms feeling that they have to choose between breastfeeding and formula. That’s not the case. It’s common for breastfeeding mothers to supplement with formula if they are struggling with their milk supply or would prefer the convenience of formula. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to do both.
Multiple brands of formula are available on the market, each claiming to be better than the rest. You’ll discover different nutrients in formulas. There are also vegan, organic, and soy-based formulas on the market. You must learn how to feed your little one formula once you pick a brand that suits your baby.
How to schedule formula feeding?
You should schedule formula feeding according to the baby feeding chart’s age, weight, and measurements. Your baby will naturally eat more as they grow older. However, your baby won’t eat as much as other babies if your baby is below the typical weight and measurement for their age. For example, premature babies are born smaller than other babies. Preemies consequently eat smaller proportions but more frequently than babies born at nine months, which does not correspond to the baby feeding chart. Follow your doctor’s feeding recommendations if your baby is under the median weight and measurements for their age.
How should I feed my baby?
You should feed your baby according to their age, amount per feeding, and feedings per day on the baby feeding chart. The baby feeding chart featured in this article provides guidelines for healthy babies within a median weight range. Your baby will look to you for everything that they need, so it’s essential to know how much to feed your baby per day, how many times per day, and what hunger cues to look for. You also need to know the typical age range to try solid foods, good foods to introduce, and complementary feeding. Knowing when and how to feed will make your job as a parent easier as well as alert you to any problems you want to discuss with your pediatrician. The following sections provide a detailed breakdown of babies’ feeding requirements according to the baby feeding chart, including an introduction to solid foods, types of food to try out, and what complementary feeding is.
A newborn baby typically eats every 2-3 hours, beginning from when they are born. Some babies commonly eat only half an ounce per feeding after they are born. This is common and nothing to worry about as your baby’s feeding will gradually increase to 1-2 ounces per feeding as they age. Newborns will eat anywhere between 8 to 12 times throughout 24 hours.
Organizations such as the World Health Organization recommend feeding your baby on demand, which means you should feed your baby whenever they are hungry. You can predict your baby’s hunger by looking out for three common examples of hunger cues. The first common hunger cue in babies is when they try to stick their fist in their mouth, as though their baby is trying to eat their fist. A second hunger signal is when your baby starts moving their head back and forth, which indicates they are looking for a nipple. The third baby hunger cue is the continuous opening and closing of their mouth, which mimics an eating motion. The three examples of hunger cues occur before a baby starts crying as crying is a late-stage hunger cue.
Infants at 2 weeks will gradually increase their amount per feeding from 1-2 ounces to 2-3 ounces. The feeding amount at 2 weeks of age is slightly more significant than during the newborn stage. For example, you’ll notice your 2-week-old will start eating about 2 ounces per feeding if they were consuming 1 once at each feeding as a newborn. Babies will continue to eat through the night for 8-12 feedings per a 24-hour period. Some babies may sleep more throughout the night as they get older, but most parents won’t see this when their little one is only 2 weeks old. Babies at 2 weeks may also develop a feeding schedule, but it’s more common for infants not to have a feeding schedule at all. You must therefore continue to feed your little one on demand. Hunger cues will alert you that your baby is hungry, such as being more alert, bringing their hands to their mouths, and moving their head from side to side.
Babies at 3 weeks will continue to have the same schedule as when they were 2 weeks old. You can expect your baby to eat about 2-3 ounces per feeding and have 8-12 feedings every 24 hours. The amount per feeding and feedings per day will gradually increase to 3-4 ounces per feeding as your infant gets close to the four-week or one-month mark. Call your pediatrician if your baby isn’t eating more than they did as a newborn. Most babies consume 16-24 ounces of breast milk or formula at 3 weeks, so ensuring your little one is eating enough is essential to their age.
Some 3-week-old infants will begin to sleep longer during the night. It’s unlikely that your baby will sleep eight hours a night, but nighttime feedings may be limited to 1-2 times per night instead of every two hours. Changes in nighttime feedings are perfectly normal and you shouldn’t wake your baby to feed them. Let your baby sleep unless your pediatrician recommends otherwise.
Babies at 1 month of age typically begin eating 3-4 ounces per feeding. The number of feedings will slow to 8-10 every 24 hours as well. It’s common for 1-month-old babies to sleep for 4-6 hours throughout the night. Some babies will sleep for 7 hours, while others will continue to wake every 2 hours. It’s important to remember that every baby has different needs, and you should follow your baby’s hunger and sleeping cues. Your baby can sleep undisturbed as long as they eat enough.
Some 1-month-old babies will suddenly begin to eat every hour, which is called cluster feeding. It’s normal for babies to demonstrate cluster-feeding tendencies. Cluster feeding is identifiable by increased hunger demands, namely your baby appearing hungry despite having just finished with a bottle or nursing. Past generations of mothers would put a little bit of baby cereal in a bottle to combat cluster feeding. The belief was that baby cereal would fill them up for longer as formula or breast milk wasn’t enough. However, modern medicine warns against putting baby cereal in bottles or giving any kind of solid food to babies who are cluster feeding. You should instead continue to feed your baby on demand unless otherwise advised by your baby’s pediatrician.
Babies at 2-4 months drink 4-5 ounces and have 6-8 feeding per 24-hour period. Your little one will continue to eat a little more during feedings while the amount of feedings per day becomes fewer in between. The amount will vary depending on your infant. Some babies may eat more or less than others while some may have a few more or fewer feedings per day than other babies. Your baby’s milk intake and feedings per day are healthy as long as your pediatrician is okay with how much your baby is eating for their age and weight. Keep in mind that breastfed babies tend to nurse more often than formula-fed babies. You may start hearing advice from friends or family members that your baby can have food like baby cereal at 4 months old. That’s not true; babies in the 2-4 month age group should only have breast milk or formula as both provide more than enough to meet all their nutrition needs.
Babies at 4-6 months will start to eat slightly more than they did in the last stage. It’s common for some infants to eat a little more than 6 ounces, but most will remain in the 4-6 ounces per feeding range. Most babies will also continue to eat 6-8 times every 24 hours. You should avoid introducing food during the 4-5 month stage. Babies may show interest in solid foods, but they should also have the corresponding physical milestones to safely consume food. Avoid uninformed advice and follow your pediatrician’s recommendations by waiting until at least 6 months of age before introducing solid foods.
When can my baby first try solid foods?
Your baby can first try solid foods when they are around 6 months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid foods at six months because babies generally show the corresponding physical milestones and interest in food at six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics links early introduction to solids before six months with increased weight gain and adiposity. Pediatricians recommend waiting for babies to accomplish certain milestones before eating baby food, such as controlling their head and neck and tongue thrusting. Ask your pediatrician what other milestones your little one should achieve before they eat solid foods.
Feed your baby one new food type at a time once they’ve started eating their first solids. Babies should eat the new food type for a few days before introducing another one to ensure that they do not have an allergic reaction. You do not have to feed babies fruits or vegetables for their first solid food. For example, you can feed your baby infant grains (baby cereal), dairy, or meat as long as the food is soft, well-cooked, and easy to chew.
Babies at 6-9 months of age will eat 6-8 ounces 4-8 times per day. Most babies at 6-9 months will be sleeping longer as they begin to eat and consume more solid foods. It’s important that your little one still gets plenty of nutrition from baby formula. Most formula-fed babies will need between 30 to 40 ounces of formula per day to meet their daily nutritional requirements. You may also begin feeding your little one formula or breast milk in a sippy cup once they reach the 8-9 month mark. Giving your baby breast milk or formula in a sippy cup 1-2 times a day will help them learn to drink from a cup, making it easier to wean them from a bottle.
Babies between 6 to 9 months of age should be eating solid foods. Start by feeding your baby stage one baby food. Stage one baby food refers to pureed food that does not contain chunks or require chewing, making it easier for little ones to get the hang of the mouth movements needed for eating solid foods.
Babies at 9 months should be able to eat finger foods and teething biscuits without a problem. Pay attention to the recommended ages listed on baby food products before purchasing them as you may give something your baby cannot swallow safely, which is a severe choking hazard. Contact your pediatrician if you are unsure what to feed your baby. Doctors are a reliable resource when you have questions, even if your baby isn’t sick or due for a check-up.
What is complementary feeding?
Complementary feeding refers to the inclusion of solid foods with breast milk or formula. Babies begin complementary feeding when breast or formula milk is no longer enough to meet their nutritional and energy needs. Signs of complementary feeding typically appear at 6 months of age. Babies who are ready to start complementary foods will show a visible interest in solids, and are capable of holding up their heads, thrusting their necks and tongues, and holding up items among other milestones.
What are some good baby foods to introduce?
Some good baby foods to introduce are single-ingredient food items. Examples of ideal first baby foods include avocados, pears, peaches, bananas, green beans, and squash. Many parents introduce baby cereal as it is fortified, nutritious, and easy to chew. Pureed foods and baby cereal are thinner than other baby foods. Soft, mashed, strained, or pureed items make it easier for a baby to transition from a bottle or breast to enjoying solid foods. Remember to wait and see how your baby reacts to their first solid food before incorporating their second food item. Doing so allows parents to watch out for allergic reactions. You should also incorporate diverse flavors to develop your baby’s palate as they begin to eat more food items.
Babies at 9-12 months can eat various foods. Most babies at 9 to 12 months of age will still be enjoying formula or breast milk while eating 6-8 ounces per feeding 4-5 times per 24-hour period. It’s critical that infants still get breast milk or formula as it will help them meet their daily nutritional requirements. Your little one will upgrade from stage one baby foods by the time they are nine months old. You may therefore start introducing other types of baby foods, teething biscuits, and plenty of finger foods, such as diced bananas and soft vegetables. Babies at 9 to 12 months of age start learning to feed themselves, but stay by your baby’s side and watch for signs of choking while they eat. Avoid feeding your baby anything unless it is soft and diced. Do not feed babies foods that have skin on them, such as grapes, as such food items are a major choking hazard for babies.
What are the baby hunger cues to watch out for?
Common baby hunger cues to watch out for include the following.
- Being more alert and active
- Putting their hands in their mouths
- Turning their head
- Smacking their lips
- Opening and closing their mouth
It’s possible to catch the hunger cues listed above as they tend to appear before a baby starts crying. You can avoid trying to make a bottle while your little one is screaming by watching out for their hunger cues. The listed cues are also called early and middle hunger cues because they happen before your baby is extremely hungry. Crying and being agitated are late hunger cues, indicating your baby needs to be comforted and fed as soon as possible.
Why isn’t my newborn hungry?
There are typically two major reasons why your newborn isn’t hungry. First, babies born smaller tend to eat less than larger babies. Premature babies will especially eat less because their stomachs are smaller but their size is offset by more frequent, diligent feedings. Second, your baby will eat less if they have an illness or a condition that makes feeding difficult. Contact your pediatrician as soon as possible if you notice that your newborn isn’t eating or isn’t hungry. It doesn’t take long for a baby to start losing weight if they’re not eating, which can be dangerous.
What are the signs I’m overfeeding my baby?
Below is a list of signs that you’re overfeeding your baby.
- Vomiting after eating
- Gassiness and bloating
- Crying and fussiness after eating
- Frequent spit up during or after eating
Most babies are great at regulating how much they eat as they tend to stop eating when full, but sometimes a baby is overfed. An excellent way to avoid overfeeding your baby is to feed on demand. Feeding on demand means you feed or nurse your baby when they want it. Don’t try to force your little one to eat in order to ensure they’re eating four ounces a feeding. Instead, let them stop when they want to as this is usually an indicator that they are full. An exception to feeding on demand is if a pediatrician or feeding specialist advises you to do something different when feeding your little one.
When is my baby ready to try solid foods?
Most babies are generally ready to try solid foods at four to six months of age. The CDC recommends introducing solids at six months, but pediatricians also watch for babies to develop specific milestones before incorporating solid foods. There are several milestones to look out for that indicate your baby is ready to try solid food. For example, babies should be able to reach forward and grab things, such as holding a spoon. They should also have good neck development, ensuring they can hold their head up and thrust their tongue in and out of their mouth. Other milestones to look out for include opening up their mouth when offered food and holding objects up their mouths.
What’s the best way to develop my baby’s palate?
The best way to develop your baby’s palate is by ensuring they are exposed to various tastes. Eat different foods, including spicy foods, if you’re breastfeeding your baby. Different types of food like spicy dishes will change the flavor of your breast milk, helping your baby develop a willingness to eat various foods before starting solids. You should also incorporate various types of foods once your baby starts eating solids. For example, you should include spices in foods to add more flavors. The more variety in your baby’s diet, the more you will develop their palate.
When do babies develop food allergies?
Babies can develop food allergies at any age. Food allergies may appear in your baby if they are exposed to a food they are allergic to through your breast milk. Food allergies also show up when you start feeding your baby solid foods. Most infants will experience a reaction within a few hours of eating a particular food if they are allergic to it. The emergence of allergic reactions also applies to breastfed babies. Knowing the signs of food allergies in babies is essential to determine if your little one is allergic to something.
What are the signs of food allergies in babies?
Common signs of food allergies in babies include the following.
- Worsening symptoms of asthma
- Worsening symptoms of eczema
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Itchy, red rash
- Red, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Diarrhea only occurs when eating certain foods
Consult your pediatrician and do not feed them the suspected food again if you notice the symptoms listed above in your baby.
What foods are choking risks?
Below is a list of foods that are choking risks and should be avoided.
- All nuts
- Fruits with skin
- Any foods with skin, such as hot dogs
- Seeds, such as sunflower seeds
- Dried fruits
- Hard or sticky candy
- Chewy candy, such as gum
- Jelly beans
- Raw vegetables, including raw carrots and raw peas
- Whole grapes
- Large pieces of meat
Only feed your baby cooked or soft foods they can easily swallow instead of the foods listed above. Keep in mind that hard foods like seeds and large pieces are harder for babies to chew and swallow.
Can I put juice in my baby’s bottle?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against putting juice in your baby’s bottle. Your baby only needs formula or breast milk in their bottle. Both formula and breast milk provide all the nutrition that your baby needs. You can give your child a few ounces of juice when they are a toddler, but it’s unnecessary.
Parting words on feeding your baby
Learning everything you need to know about how much you should feed your baby is challenging. There are new things to learn with each passing month. That’s why you should follow the baby feeding chart and listen to your pediatrician’s recommendations. A baby feeding chart will help you through every age and stage, whether breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or just getting started on solid foods. The most important thing is that you find what works best for you and your baby. Check out our other guides to discover what you need to know to provide for and support your baby’s healthy development.