How much formula should baby drink per day? It depends on their age, weight, and when they become full. Find out how much formula to feed baby using our guide, based on the AAP and CDC recommendations.
One of the most common questions formula-feeding parents ask is how to know if their baby’s getting enough to eat per day. This is important not only for baby’s nourishment, but for situations where you need to make sure you’ve set aside enough formula – such as vacations or days where you send baby to child care outside the home.
How to figure this out? There are rough guidelines for how much you should feed your little one in a day, based on guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But those guidelines aren’t the only factor to consider. Today, we’ll cover how much formula baby should eat in a day, how often you should feed them, and more on telling whether your baby’s had enough.
How much formula should you feed baby per day?
The amount of formula baby will need will depend on their age and weight. On average, the AAP advises that babies “should take in about 2½ ounces (75 mL) of infant formula a day for every pound of body weight,” but no more than 32 ounces in 24 hours.
Remember, though, that every baby is different – larger babies will usually need more than smaller babies, and babies’ needs may vary each day. And a baby may also want more formula more often if they’re going through a growth spurt.
But here are some rough general guidelines of what daily formula intake will look like by age:
Newborn: 1-3 ounces per feed (Starting with 1-2 ounces per feed in the first two weeks, and increasing to 2-3 ounces per feed for the rest of the first month)
1 month old: 2-4 ounces per feed (16-32 ounces per day)
2 months old: 3-5 ounces per feed (18-32 ounces per day)
3 months old: 4-6 ounces per feed (24-32 ounces per day)
4 months old: 4-6 ounces per feed (24-32 ounces per day)
5 months old: 6-7 ounces per feed, but never more than 32 ounces in a day
6-8 months old: 6-8 ounces per feed, but never more than 32 ounces in a day
9-11 months old: 16-32 ounces per day (needs will decrease as they eat more solids)
If your little one consistently seems hungry for more than 32 ounces of formula per day, talk to your pediatrician.
How often to feed baby formula per day?
How often baby needs formula in a day also depends on baby’s age. Again, every baby is different, but here’s how often babies will need formula on average:
- Newborn: About every 2-3 hours, or about 8-12 times per day; feed baby on demand, or whenever they show signs of hunger
- 1 month old: About every 3-4 hours, or about 6-8 times per day; feed baby on demand, or whenever they show signs of hunger
- 2 months old: About every 3-4 hours, or about 6-8 times per day; feed baby on demand, or whenever they show signs of hunger
- 3 months old: About every 4-5 hours, or about 5-6 times a day; at this point, you may start to feed baby on a rough schedule as you get a feel for when they are hungry. But continue to put baby’s needs and preferences first.
- 4 months old: About every 4-5 hours, or about 5-6 times a day
- 5 months old: About 5 times per day
- 6-8 months old: 4-5 times per day, in addition to eating solids
- 9-11 months old: 3-4 times per day, but the formula is supplemented by the solids they’re eating, so they’ll gradually need less and less formula as they eat more solids
Baby Formula Feeding Guidelines: At A Glance
We’ve summarized the feeding guidelines in the chart below:
Respecting baby’s hunger and fullness cues
The guidelines above aren’t the most important factor in telling how much formula you should give during a feed. It’s most important to respect your little one’s hunger and fullness cues at every feeding, because you don’t want to overfeed your little one. Start a feed when you can tell they are hungry, and stop a feed when they signal that they are full.
“[Baby] probably will regulate their intake from day to day to meet their own specific needs, so let them tell you when they've had enough.” – American Academy of Pediatrics
If you overfeed baby too often, they may start to have trouble telling whether they are full or still hungry as they get older. Honoring their hunger and fullness cues helps build healthy eating habits. So, if baby shows you that they are full, it’s time to stop the feed (even if they haven’t eaten the suggested amount for their age).
What cues do you need to watch out for?
Baby is hungry if they:
- Smack their lips
- Keep their mouth open
- Make sucking motions
- Root (search for something that strokes their cheek, like a bottle nipple)
- Bring their hand to their mouth
- Move their head from side to side
- Stick out their tongue
- Cry (this is a late sign of hunger)
Baby is full if they:
- Turn their head away from the bottle
- Close their mouth
- Relax their hands
- Don’t seem interested in sucking anymore
- Are fidgety or easily distracted during the feed
- Start to doze off
How to know if baby has had enough formula?
Baby is getting enough formula if they’re gaining weight at a healthy rate and following a healthy growth curve. (Your pediatrician will help you keep track of this at baby’s regular checkups.) And if baby is happy and satisfied after each feed, that’s also a good sign that they’re getting enough to eat.
Another sign that baby is getting enough is if baby’s wetting and dirtying enough diapers per day. Newborns will usually wet 2-3 diapers in the first few days after birth. After that, baby should have at least six wet diapers with pale or clear urine per day, and at least four dirty diapers. At first, the dirty diapers should contain thick, tar-like stools, and as baby gets older, the stools should look yellower or greener.
What are some signs that baby has had too much formula?
Spitting up formula is normal, but if baby is forcefully vomiting after a feeding, that may be a sign that they’ve had too much to eat. (It could also be for another reason, though, such as an allergy or intolerance to a formula ingredient.)
Another warning sign that baby is eating too much formula is if they’re gaining too much weight too quickly.
And if you’ve fed baby more than 32 ounces of formula in 24 hours (the maximum amount recommended by the AAP and CDC), it’s likely that they’re consuming too much formula.Talk to your doctor if baby wants more formula than this per day.
If baby is 6 months of age or older and hasn’t started solids yet, wanting more than 32 ounces per day may be a sign that they’re ready for solids.
What to do if your pediatrician says that baby is overeating? Make sure that you’re only feeding baby formula when they’re hungry, and not when they’re tired, cranky, or seeking attention. Consider giving a pacifier if baby wants to suck more. And be sure that you are making the formula exactly as specified in the mixing instructions. If you haven't diluted the formula enough, this changes the calorie count so baby ends up with a lot more calories per ounce.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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