Newborns should be fed at the first sign of hunger and allowed to eat as much as they want at each feeding. Feed your newborn whenever he shows signs of hunger, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Early signs of hunger include increasing alertness or activity, mouthing objects, and rooting with the mouth. Don’t assume that if your
baby is not crying, he’s not hungry. Crying is a late sign of hunger—by the time a baby is howling, he’s already been hungry for a while. Plus, crying may be a sign of many other problems as well—or of no problem at all!
The AAP and many other child-care professionals fear that some newborns may not grow as well if they are put on strict feeding schedules. Because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, formula-fed babies generally go a little longer between feedings than breast-feeders. For the first month or so, a formula-fed baby will usually eat every three to four hours, round-the-clock. In the first week or if your baby is particularly small, she may eat even more frequently. If your baby sleeps longer than four or five hours between feedings, wake her up and offer her a bottle.
During the first few days of life, babies may eat very little, a teaspoonful or less. For the next month, babies typically take two to four ounces at a feeding. A rule of thumb says that in each 24-hour day, newborns drink two to three ounces of formula for each pound of their body weight. For example, a seven-pound baby would take 14 to 21 ounces. As the months pass, babies take more at a sitting and eat less frequently, usually settling into a fairly predictable routine. By the time they reach 12 pounds, many can take enough to sleep through the night. By six months, babies typically are taking formula four or five times a day, consuming 7 to 8 ounces at each feeding, or up to 32 ounces (one quart)
in a 24-hour day. At that point, they should start to get an increasing share of their nutrition from solid food. They can also start drinking from a cup
The best guide to whether your baby is eating enough is how well he is growing. But if your baby is eating far more or far less than the amounts outlined here—or if you have any other feeding concerns—consult your baby’s doctor.