Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Early Eating - How Much Is Enough??

There are many challenges that come with being a new mother. One of the biggest challenges can be knowing how much to feed a newborn baby. Babies have no way of verbalizing (other than through crying) if they are getting too much, too little, or just enough to eat. So how do you know if your child is hungry or full? Here are answers to some common infant feeding questions.

How much and how often should my newborn be eating?

Breastfed Babies
  • Eat more frequently than formula fed babies
    • They get  a smaller volume of milk early on compared to bottle fed babies
  • Eat every 2-3 hours: as they get older they can go longer between feedings
    • Some babies require long feedings at certain times of the day and will be satisfied more quickly at other times
  • About 10 minutes on each breast provides 90% of available milk, after this time the baby will receive less milk per suck
  • Go by on-demand feeding- the baby will take charge of her own feedings; when she is full she may turn her head or give you other signals she is done
Photo Credit 
Bottle Fed Babies
  • Babies drink 2-3 ounces of formula per feeding, every 3 to 4 hours for the first few weeks
    • For the first month, if baby sleeps longer than 4-5 hours and starts missing feedings, wake her up to feed her
  • By the end of the first month, a baby should be up to 4 ounces per feeding with a predictable schedule of every 4 hours
  • By four months, she should be drinking 5 ounces per feeding (30 ounces a day) and by six months should be consuming 6 to 8 ounces per feeding (4 or 5 times a day)
  • The average baby should have 2 ½ ounces of formula a day for every pound of body weight—don’t go by fixed amounts, let her tell you
    • Fidgety or distracted behavior during feeding means she is done
    • If he drains the bottle and still smacks his lips after, he is probably still hungry

 **Don’t forget that each baby’s feedings are unique! It is best to feed a baby on demand when she cries that she is hungry; later she will develop a schedule**

How can I tell if my baby is getting enough? 

Watch for clues instead of using the clock! Clues include:
  • Milk is visible: leaking or dripping (if breastfed)
  • You hear the baby swallow after several sucks in a row
  • Baby looks and acts satisfied after eating
  • Diapers
    • During the first month, she should wet 6-8 times a day and have a bowel movement at least 2 times a day; later this will become less and less
  • Your baby sleeps for a couple hours after a feeding
  • Weighing him once every week or two—after the first couple of weeks because he loses weight the first couple of weeks
    • If a breastfed baby is not gaining weight, the milk supply may have decreased and a supplemental bottle or two may be needed
Photo Credit
How do I know if my baby is getting too much to eat?
  • If bottle-fed, she is consuming more than 4-6 ounces per feeding
  • He vomits most or all of the food after a feeding
  • If bowel movements are loose and very watery, 8 or more times a day

How do I know if my baby is eating too little?
  • If a breastfed baby stops feeding after 10 minutes or less
  • If she wets fewer than 4 diapers a day
  • If baby’s skin remains wrinkled beyond the first week
  • If he does not develop a rounded face by about 3 weeks
  • If she appears hungry or searching for something to suck shortly after feedings
  • If he becomes more yellow (instead of less yellow) after the first week
Photo Credit 
What are some signs or cues that my baby is hungry? 
  • Smacking his lips or whimpering
  • Pulling up arms or legs toward her middle
  • Stretching or yawning
  • Moving hands toward her mouth
  • Making sucking motions
  • Waking up and becoming more alert and active
  • Nuzzling against your breast

How can I tell if my baby is ready for solid food?
  • She can hold her head up high
  • He can sit fully up right on his own
  • Her birth weight has doubled and has reached a minimum of 13 pounds
  • He becomes more interested in food by watching others and opens his mouth in anticipation when food comes his way

For more information or any questions about feeding older infants or children, contact Help Me Grow.

All information was found in Caring for Your Baby and Young Child Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2003 and can be found at by clicking here 

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