The first month with a new baby is an overwhelming time for parents, and trying to get a handle on when and how much to feed your newborn can be really stressful.
You should always talk to your baby’s doctor about her feedings. All babies lose some weight in the hospital, and one of the reasons your newborn will see the pediatrician in the first week is so the doctor can make sure she’s on track to regain her birth weight and continue to gain.
You can get my complete guide on the basics of formula feeding here.
In terms of feeding schedules, most experts and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend feeding your baby “on demand” during the first few weeks or the first month. What this means is that when the baby manifests signs of hunger (rooting, chewing on hands, crying), you feed her. Those on demand feedings should happen at least every 3-4 hours which amounts to around 6-8 feedings over the course of a day.
Here’s my sample schedule, assuming your first feeding of the day is at 7 a.m. (of course this could be adapted for whatever time that first feed occurs). 90 minutes after that feeding, put your baby down to sleep. Then, no later than 3-4 hours after the start of the previous feeding, begin the next feeding. Wake baby up if necessary. If your baby wakes up hungry before then, feed her and adjust your schedule. This schedule assumes a feeding every 3 hours – check with your doctor as to how often you should feed!
Feeding and Sleeping Schedule:
7 a.m. – 1st Feed
8:30 a.m. – Nap
10 a.m. – 2nd Feed
11:30 a.m. – Nap
1 p.m. = 3rd Feed
2:30 p.m. – Nap
4 p.m. – 4th Feed
5:30 p.m. - Nap
7 p.m. – 5th Feed
8:30 p.m. – Bedtime
10 p.m. – 6th Feed (Directly back to sleep)
1 a.m. – 7th Feed (Directly back to sleep)
4 a.m. – 8th Feed (Directly back to sleep)
Of course, how often your baby eats will also depend on how much your baby is eating at each feeding. The typical full term newborn will eat:
- 2 to 3 ounces of formula per feed
- Feeding every 3-4 hours
If you want to calculate how much formula your baby needs…there’s a formula for that!
You take the weight of your baby, multiply it by 2.5 and divide it by the number of feedings per day.
For example, if your baby weighs 7.5 lbs.:
7lbs x 2.5 = 17.5
*17.5 divided by 8 feedings per day = 2.1 ounces formula per feeding
*17.5 divided by 6 feedings per day = 2.9 ounces formula per feeding
This is not an exact science and every baby is different, but it gives you some idea of how to ballpark how much your baby should be eating. You can refer to this equation at any point before you baby starts eating solids.
One thing I’ve learned is that because it’s not as much work for babies to suck from a bottle as it is from a breast, bottle fed babies tend to eat more, and it is easier to over feed your baby. One way to minimize this is to make sure you have the right nipple size on your bottles. Bottles like Avent and Doctor Brown’s will indicate the age appropriate nipple to use, and nipples for younger babies have a slower flow of milk. Make sure which ever bottle you use for your newborn that the liquid drips out and does NOT pour out (check out my Bottle Buying Guide!).
At this early stage always make sure your baby is full after each feeding. Double check with your doctor, some tell tale signs that your baby is eating enough are:
- 6 to 8 Wet Diapers Per Day
- 3 Poopy Diapers Per Day
- Gaining Weight
If your baby does not exhibit these signs you should get in touch with your doctor. Hope this helps and good luck with your first month!