How many ml is too much for a newborn?

Newborn babies have very small stomachs, so overfeeding can quickly lead to vomiting and other issues. Knowing how much milk is too much for a newborn is key to avoiding these problems.

How much should a newborn eat?

Newborns need to eat frequently, but only small amounts at each feeding. In the first few days of life, babies typically only need 1-3 milliliters (mL) per feeding. By the end of the first week, intake increases to around 15-30 mL per feeding.

Here are some general guidelines for newborn feeding amounts:

  • First 24 hours: 1-10 mL per feeding
  • 2-6 days old: 5-15 mL per feeding
  • 1 week old: 15-30 mL per feeding
  • 2 weeks old: 30-60 mL per feeding
  • 1 month old: 60-90 mL per feeding

However, every baby is different. It’s best to follow your baby’s cues rather than sticking to a strict amount per feeding.

Signs your newborn is getting too much milk

Watch for these signs that your baby may be getting more milk than their tiny stomach can handle:

  • Spitting up large amounts – It’s normal for newborns to spit up a bit after feeding, but large amounts of spit up may indicate overfeeding.
  • Excessive burping/hiccups – Lots of wet burps or hiccups can signal too much intake.
  • Fussiness during/after feeding – Newborns should seem content after eating. Fussiness can mean they’re uncomfortably full.
  • arching away from the bottle – Turning away with milk dribbling out their mouth is a clear sign your baby doesn’t want more.

Dangers of overfeeding newborns

Overfeeding can pose several risks for newborns, including:

  • Vomiting – Too much milk can cause forceful vomiting (projectile vomiting) as the stomach rejects the excess.
  • Choking – Milk flowing into the airway can cause choking, coughing, or gagging.
  • Dehydration – Although counterintuitive, overfeeding can lead to dehydration from nutrient imbalance.
  • Failure to gain weight – Overfeeding interferes with hunger cues and may cause poor feeding over time.
  • Colic – Overfeeding and swallowing too much air during feedings can cause painful gas and colic.

In rare cases, overfeeding can even contribute to serious gastric conditions like infant botulism or necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Tips to avoid overfeeding

Here are some tips to ensure your newborn gets the right amount of milk at each feeding:

  • Pay attention to hunger cues – Rooting, sucking on hands, increased alertness or activity can signal hunger.
  • Don’t force extra milk – Stop when your baby loses interest, even if there’s milk left.
  • Burp frequently – Burp halfway through and again after feeding.
  • Use paced bottle feeding – Tip the bottle to control the flow to match your baby’s pace.
  • Follow baby’s lead – Allow baby to feed on demand rather than on a strict schedule.

If you’re concerned your baby is consistently getting too much at feedings, talk to your pediatrician. They can help assess your baby’s growth, intake needs, and feeding habits.

How to handle spit up after overfeeding

If your newborn spits up after being overfed, here’s how to respond:

  • Stay calm – Gentle handling will soothe baby.
  • Keep head elevated – Hold baby upright over your shoulder to avoid choking.
  • Let them clear the milk – Don’t lay baby down until the spitting up stops.
  • Clean up – Gently wipe mouth and change clothes/burp cloth if needed.
  • Comfort baby – Cuddling, rocking, or swaddling can help soothe them.
  • Burp again – Try burping one more time before resuming activities.

Call your pediatrician if your baby has green or bloody spit up, seems in distress, has a fever, or shows other concerning symptoms.

When to supplement due to insufficient intake

Most newborns need only breast milk or formula in the first 6 months. But if your baby isn’t getting enough at feedings, supplementing may be needed.

Signs your baby isn’t getting enough milk include:

  • Poor weight gain
  • Excessive sleepiness or lethargy
  • Infrequent wet or dirty diapers
  • Dry mouth or eyes
  • Weak sucking reflex
  • High-pitched, hungry cry

Reasons your baby may need supplements include:

  • Low milk supply in mother
  • Poor latch or ineffective sucking
  • Prematurity or health conditions
  • Dehydration
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

If your pediatrician recommends supplementing, they can advise on the type and amount of supplement to use. Common options include:

  • Formula – Typically given after breastfeeding or pumped breastmilk.
  • Donor breastmilk – Pasteurized donated milk from milk banks.
  • Fortifier – Powdered formulas to add extra nutrition to breastmilk.

Work closely with your pediatrician and lactation consultant if supplementation is needed.

When to call a doctor about overfeeding

In most cases, occasional overfeeding won’t harm an otherwise healthy newborn. But call your pediatrician if your baby has any of the following after being overfed:

  • Projectile or green/bloody vomit
  • Choking or trouble breathing
  • Wheezing or grunting sounds
  • Signs of dehydration (dry mouth, no tears, few wet diapers)
  • Fever over 100.4°F (38°C)
  • Lethargy or extreme irritability
  • Persistent fussiness or refusal to eat

Reach out sooner if your baby was born prematurely, has existing health issues, or seems ill in other ways after overfeeding.

Moving forward after overfeeding

Don’t be discouraged if you overfeed your newborn once in awhile. It happens, especially when you’re still learning your baby’s cues. Here are some tips for getting back on track:

  • Stick to smaller feeds for the next 1-2 days.
  • Try shorter, more frequent feeds if needed.
  • Make sure baby is properly latched for breastfeeding.
  • Use paced bottle feeding to control the pace.
  • Hold baby upright for 10-15 minutes after feeding.
  • Feed on demand rather than a schedule.

Focus on following your baby’s cues moving forward. Over time, you’ll get better at recognizing when your baby is full and needs to stop eating. Don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician for help optimizing feeding volumes and techniques.


Overfeeding can happen occasionally, especially while learning your newborn’s needs. Pay close attention to hunger and fullness cues to avoid feeding too much. Spitting up, fussiness, and arching away are signs to stop feeding. While messy, occasional overfeeding isn’t harmful if baby seems otherwise healthy. But call your pediatrician if symptoms persist or if your baby seems distressed. With time and experience, you’ll get the hang of your baby’s perfect feeding amounts.

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