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How Much to Feed

Angela Oswalt, MSW

When babies are first born they eat often and at sometimes unpredictable times, and they eat varying amounts at each feeding. As they grow over the first months, their eating schedules regulate more, and they eat more at each sitting, during fewer sittings a day. It's important for new parents to consult with their pediatrician to make sure that their baby is getting the proper nutrition and growing and gaining weight appropriately. For the first three months, parents and caregivers should follow the baby's signals about when they're hungry or full. Parents don't have to force a feeding schedule on babies, but allow babies to let them know when they want more or are satisfied.

When newborns arrive, they can eat up to eight to twelve times a day at erratic times and for different durations and amounts. They may eat from just a few mouthfuls up to three ounces at each sitting. Oftentimes, breastfeeding babies will latch onto the breast even more than that or suckle even when they're not drinking just to get that comforting connection with their moms. This is a rich opportunity for mothers and babies to build that very important bond and trust. Breastfed babies may continue to eat more often than their bottle-fed peers do in the coming months. At about 4 weeks of age, babies may eat six to twelve times a day and take three to six ounces at each sitting, which can be every two to four hours. By around age 2 months, infants are eating about six to ten times a day, eating about three to eight ounces at each sitting, which can still be every two to four hours.

Around this age, as babies are sleeping for longer stretches at night, the frequency of their nighttime feedings may taper. By around age 3 months, babies may be eating only six to eight times a day, eating about four to eight ounces at each sitting every two to four hours except during the night. Between the ages of 3 and 6 months, a baby's eating frequency will continue to decrease, but their consumption will continue between four to eight ounces at each sitting. Around this time, many pediatricians will suggest adding cereal to the bottles to increase caloric intake and to make the bottles more filling. Caregivers should consult with their pediatricians about this addition.

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