# How many calories do babies need per day?

The number of calories babies need per day depends on their age and size. On average, babies need the following calories per day:

• 0-3 months: 500-700 calories
• 4-6 months: 600-800 calories
• 7-9 months: 700-900 calories
• 10-12 months: 800-1000 calories

However, calorie needs can vary significantly between individual babies based on factors like birth weight, rate of growth, and activity level. It’s best to work with your pediatrician to determine the right calorie intake for your specific baby.

## Calorie Needs by Age

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the average calorie needs for babies by age:

### 0-3 months

– Birth to 1 month: 90-120 calories per kilogram (40-55 calories per pound) of body weight
– 1-2 months: 80-115 calories per kilogram (36-52 calories per pound)
– 2-3 months: 80-100 calories per kilogram (36-45 calories per pound)

So for a newborn weighing 3.5 kg or 7.7 lbs, that would equal about 315-420 calories per day.

### 4-6 months

– 4 months: 75-100 calories per kilogram (34-45 calories per pound)
– 5 months: 70-90 calories per kilogram (32-41 calories per pound)
– 6 months: 70-80 calories per kilogram (32-36 calories per pound)

For a 6 month old baby weighing 7 kg or 15.4 lbs, this would equal 490-560 calories per day.

### 7-9 months

– 7 months: 70-80 calories per kilogram (32-36 calories per pound)
– 8 months: 65-75 calories per kilogram (30-34 calories per pound)
– 9 months: 60-70 calories per kilogram (27-32 calories per pound)

So a 9 month old weighing 8 kg or 17.6 lbs would need around 480-560 calories daily.

### 10-12 months

– 10 months: 55-65 calories per kilogram (25-30 calories per pound)
– 11 months: 55-60 calories per kilogram (25-27 calories per pound)
– 12 months: 50-60 calories per kilogram (23-27 calories per pound)

For a 1 year old weighing 10 kg or 22 lbs, this would come out to 500-600 calories per day.

## Factors That Affect Calorie Needs

While the averages above provide a general guideline, several factors can affect how many calories an individual baby really needs each day:

• Birth weight: Lower birth weight babies generally need more calories per pound to catch up.
• Prematurity: Premature babies have higher calorie needs for their weight.
• Rate of growth: Rapidly growing infants need more calories than those growing at a slower pace.
• Activity level: More active babies burn more calories.
• Medical conditions: Issues like reflux and food allergies can increase calorie needs.
• Method of feeding: Breastfed babies tend to need slightly fewer calories than bottle fed.

Given all these variables, it’s best to work with your pediatrician to fine tune the ideal daily calorie intake for your particular baby based on their unique circumstances. Track your baby’s growth patterns over time and adjust calorie intakes accordingly with your doctor’s guidance.

## Calories from Breast Milk vs Formula

When it comes to feeding, the calories babies get from breast milk and formula differ:

• Breast milk: Approximately 19-22 calories per ounce on average.
• Standard infant formula: Around 20 calories per ounce.
• Speciality formula: Can range from 22-30 calories per ounce for premature or underweight babies who need extra calories.

So in terms of calories provided, standard formula and breast milk are often similar, while speciality formulas designed for catch up growth provide higher calorie intake per ounce.

However, there are other factors around breast milk and formula calories to consider:

• Breastfed babies self-regulate intake based on hunger and fullness cues.
• Formula fed babies may overconsume calories if fed on a set schedule.
• Breast milk provides bioavailable nutrients infants can absorb more efficiently.

Work with your pediatrician when deciding whether to use standard or specialized formula to meet your baby’s needs. Breast milk remains the gold standard, but formula can help provide enough calories when needed.

## Daily Calorie Distribution

In addition to total daily calories, the distribution of these calories across feedings and mealtimes can also impact babies:

• Aim for 7-9 feedings in 24 hours in the first months.
• Spread feedings evenly over day and night initially.
• As solids are introduced around 6 months, reduce nighttime feedings.
• Offer higher calorie density foods like purees and cereals at mealtimes.
• Limit low calorie beverages like water between meals.

Following hunger and fullness cues is also key – babies know best when they need more or less calories each day. Don’t force extra feedings if your baby seems satisfied.

## Signs Your Baby May Need More Calories

Watch for these signs your baby may need a higher calorie intake:

• Falling off their growth curve percentiles
• Not gaining enough weight between appointments
• Seems hungry soon after full feedings
• Not satisfied by larger feed volumes
• Poor weight gain that can’t be attributed to medical issues

If your baby displays these cues, talk to their doctor. A temporary increase in calorie density or frequency of feedings may help get weight gain back on track.

## Safely Increasing Calories

If your pediatrician recommends increasing your baby’s calorie intake, here are some safe ways to do so:

• Use specialty higher calorie formula.
• Fortify pumped breast milk with powdered formula.
• Add premixed formula powder to cereals and purees.
• Offer nutrient rich foods like avocado and nut butters.
• Include healthy fats like olive or coconut oil in foods.
• Feed more frequent small meals.

But don’t make changes without your doctor’s guidance. Too much weight gain can also raise health concerns. Finding the right calorie balance helps babies thrive.

## Example Calorie Intake Schedules

To see what appropriate calorie intakes look like at different ages, here are some sample daily feeding schedules for babies getting average calorie needs:

### 0-3 months old

 2 am 3 oz breast milk or formula (60 calories) 6 am 5 oz breast milk or formula (100 calories) 9 am 5 oz breast milk or formula (100 calories) 12 pm 5 oz breast milk or formula (100 calories) 3 pm 5 oz breast milk or formula (100 calories) 6 pm 5 oz breast milk or formula (100 calories) 9 pm 5 oz breast milk or formula (100 calories) Total 660 calories

### 6 months old

 7 am 6 oz breast milk or formula (120 calories) 10 am 1/2 cup infant cereal (60 calories) + fruit puree (50 calories) 1 pm 6 oz breast milk or formula (120 calories) + veggies (30 calories) 4 pm 6 oz breast milk or formula (120 calories) 7 pm 1/2 cup infant cereal (60 calories) + fruit puree (50 calories) 10 pm 6 oz breast milk or formula (120 calories) Total 680 calories

### 9 months old

 7 am Breast milk or formula (100 calories) + 1/2 slice toast (40 calories) 10 am 1/4 cup oatmeal (100 calories) + fruit (50 calories) 1 pm 1/4 cup mac and cheese (110 calories) + steamed veggies (30 calories) 3 pm Greek yogurt (80 calories) + puffs (20 calories) 6 pm Pureed meat and potatoes (110 calories) + peas (40 calories) 9 pm 6-8 oz breast milk or formula (120-160 calories) Total 700-750 calories

Tailor schedules based on your own baby’s hunger cues and doctor’s advice. But these examples give you an idea of appropriate calorie distribution.

## Conclusion

Determining how many calories your baby needs per day can seem complicated. But following the general age-based guidelines and adjusting for your baby’s unique factors with your pediatrician’s help can ensure your little one gets the right nourishment to grow and develop properly. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, growth patterns, and nutrition quality along with calorie counts. With the right calorie intake and feeding schedule, your baby will thrive.