How Often Baby Feed

Babies need to eat frequently because they have small stomachs and their nutritional needs are high. Over the first few weeks and months, the time between feedings will start to get longer. On average, most exclusively breastfed babies will feed about every 2 to 4 hours. Some babies may feed as often as every hour at times, often called cluster feeding.

The time between feedings will get longer as your baby grows. Over the first few weeks and months, the frequency of feedings and time between will naturally ebb and flow. On average, most exclusively breastfed babies will feed about every 2 to 4 hours. Some babies may feed as often as every hour at times, often called cluster feeding, or may have a longer sleep interval of 4 to 5 hours. If you want to know for sure that your baby is getting enough breast milk, see your health care provider.

The time between feedings varies, but over the first few weeks and months, your baby will start to feed every 2 to 4 hours on average. Some may feed as often as every hour at times (especially during a growth spurt). Other times they might skip a day or two!

Newborn babies usually feed little and often, about 8 – 12 times every 24 hours. Over the first few weeks and months, the time between feedings will start to get longer. Babies generally don’t feed on a schedule, so trying to keep them on one can be frustrating for everyone. It is especially important for mothers of newborns to get as much rest as possible. The baby’s schedule will help dictate mom’s schedule since she’ll need to be alert when the baby is hungry.

When your baby is newborn, he or she will feed around 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. This means that you may be feeding your little one every 2 to 4 hours.

Breastfeeding your baby: Babies often want to feed more at night.Feeding is not only about your baby eating– it is also about having time to cuddle and get to know your baby.

Every baby is different. How much and how often your baby feeds will depend on your baby’s needs. Here are a few things to expect about breastfeeding during the baby’s first days, weeks, and months of life.

How do I know when my baby is hungry?

For babies born prematurely​ or with certain medical conditions, scheduled feedings advised by your pediatrician are best. But for most healthy, full-term infants, parents can look to their baby rather than the clock for hunger cues. This is called feeding on demand, or responsive feeding.

Hunger cues

A hungry baby often will cry. But it’s best to watch for hunger cues before the baby starts crying, which is a late sign of hunger and can make it hard for them to settle down and eat.

Other typical hunger cues include:

  • Licking lips
  • Sticking tongue out
  • Rooting (moving jaw and mouth or head in search of breast)
  • Putting his/her hand to mouth repeatedly
  • Opening her mouth
  • Fussiness
  • Sucking on everything around

It is important to realize, however, that every time your baby cries or sucks it is not necessarily because he or she is hungry. Babies suck not only for hunger, but also for comfort; it can be hard at first for parents to tell the difference. Sometimes, your baby just needs to be cuddled or changed.

General Guidelines for Baby Feeding:

It is important to remember all babies are different―some like to snack more often, and others drink more at one time and go longer between feedings. However, most babies will drink more and go longer between feedings as they get bigger and their tummies can hold more milk:

  • Most newborns eat every 2 to 3 hours, or 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Babies might only take in half ounce per feeding for the first day or two of life, but after that will usually drink 1 to 2 ounces at each feeding. This amount increases to 2 to 3 ounces by 2 weeks of age.
  • At about 2 months of age, babies usually take 4 to 5 ounces per feeding every 3 to 4 hours.
  • At 4 months, babies usually take 4 to 6 ounces per feeding.
  • At 6 months, babies may be taking up to 8 ounces every 4 to 5 hours.

Most babies will increase the amount of formula they drink by an average of 1 ounce each month before leveling off at about 7 to 8 ounces per feeding. Solid foods should be started at about 6 months old.

Concerns About Overfeeding or Underfeeding:

Too full?

Babies are usually pretty good at eating the right amount, but they can sometimes take in more than they need. Infants who are bottle feeding may be more likely to overfeed, because drinking from a bottle may take less effort than breastfeeding.

Overfed babies can have stomach pains, gas, spit up or vomit and be at higher risk for obesity later in life. It’s better to offer less, since you can always give more if your baby wants it. This also gives babies time to realize when they’re full.

If you are concerned your baby wants to eat all the time―even when he or she is full―talk with your pediatrician. Pacifiers may be used after feeding to help sooth healthy-weight babies who like to suck for comfort, rather than nutrition. For babies who are breastfed, it’s best to wait to offer pacifiers until around 3 to 4 weeks of age, when breastfeeding is well-established.

Trouble gaining weight?

Most babies will double their birth weight by 5 months of age and triple their birth weight by their first birthday. If your baby is having trouble gaining weight, don’t wait too long between feeding―even if it means waking your baby. Be sure to talk with your pediatrician about how often and how much to feed your baby.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?

Daily diapers

A newborn’s diaper is a good indicator of whether he or she is getting enough to eat. In the first few days after birth, a baby should have 2 to 3 wet diapers each day. After the first 4 to 5 days, a baby should have at least 5 to 6 wet diapers a day. Stool frequency is more variable and depends whether your baby is breast or formula fed.

Growth charts

During regular health check-ups, your pediatrician will check your baby’s weight and plot it on a growth chart. Your baby’s progress on the growth chart is one way to tell whether or not he or she is getting enough food. Babies who stay in healthy growth percentile ranges are probably getting a healthy amount of food during feedings.

Remember…

Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about your baby getting the right amount to eat.

Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org:

How Often Baby Feed At Night

One of the most common questions new parents have is how often their baby should eat. The best answer is surprisingly simple: in general, babies should be fed whenever they seem hungry.

First Days

  • Your newborn baby’s belly is tiny. He or she does not need a lot of milk with each feeding to be full.
  • Your baby may want to eat as often as every 1 to 3 hours. Frequent feeding helps increase your milk supply and gives your baby practice at sucking and swallowing.
  • You may be able to hear your baby sucking and swallowing the breast milk.
  • Most babies who are getting breast milk should not be fed infant formula in the first few days. If you are concerned about meeting your baby’s needs, talk to a lactation consultant, or your baby’s nurse or doctor, right away. They can help you address any breastfeeding problems and determine the best way to meet your baby’s needs.

Did You Know?

Some newborns may be sleepy and not interested in feeding.

At first, babies need to eat about every 2 to 4 hours to help them get enough nutrition and to grow.

This means you may need to wake your baby to feed. You can try patting, stroking, undressing, or changing the diaper to help wake your baby.

If you have concerns about how much your baby is sleeping or eating, talk to his or her doctor or nurse.

First Weeks and Months

  • As babies grow, their bellies also grow. Your baby will gradually be able to drink more breast milk at each feeding.
  • Over the first few weeks and months, the time between feedings will start to get longer. On average, most exclusively breastfedalert icon babies will feed about every 2 to 4 hours. Some babies may feed as often as every hour at times, often called cluster feeding. Or may have a longer sleep interval of 4 to 5 hours.
  • How often your baby feeds might change depending on the time of day. Some feeding sessions may be long, and others short. That is okay. Babies will generally take what they need at each feeding and stop eating when they are full. They should seem content and drowsy after feeding when they have had enough milk.
  • Your baby will breastfeed about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.

6 to 12 Months

If you have questions about your baby’s growth or how much breast milk he or she is getting, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse.

  • How long and how often babies breastfeed will change as they grow and start eating more solid foods.
  • Continue to follow your baby’s cues and breastfeed when you notice signs of hunger. This is sometimes called breastfeeding on demand.
  • If your baby seems less interested in breastfeeding after you introduce solid foods, try breastfeeding before you offer other foods.
  • Your breast milk is the most important source of nutrition, even after you start feeding your baby solid foods.

12  to 24 Months

  • The number of times a day a toddler breastfeeds varies. Some want to breastfeed only before bed or in the morning. Others continue to drink breast milk as a bigger portion of their daily diet. Continue to follow your child’s cues to decide when he or she is hungry and wants to breastfeed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.