How many mL should newborn drink formula?

Quick Answer

Newborns should drink around 2-3 ounces (60-90 mL) of formula per feeding in the first few days after birth. This amount can gradually increase to 4-5 ounces (120-150 mL) per feeding by 6 weeks old. On average, newborns drink 25-35 ounces (750-1050 mL) of formula per day. However, each baby is different and may need more or less formula at each feeding. It’s important to follow hunger cues and not force a baby to finish a bottle if they show signs of fullness. Overfeeding can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or excess weight gain. Underfeeding can lead to poor weight gain and dehydration. Work closely with your pediatrician to determine the ideal formula intake for your newborn based on their age, weight and individual needs.

How Much Formula Do Newborns Need?

The amount of formula a newborn needs varies from baby to baby. Here are some general guidelines on formula intake based on age:

0-1 week old

– 2-3 ounces (60-90 mL) per feeding
– 6-8 feedings per day
– Total of 12-24 ounces (360-720 mL) per day

1-2 weeks old

– 2-4 ounces (60-120 mL) per feeding
– 6-8 feedings per day
– Total of 18-28 ounces (540-840 mL) per day

2-6 weeks old

– 3-5 ounces (90-150 mL) per feeding
– 5-7 feedings per day
– Total of 25-35 ounces (750-1050 mL) per day

6-12 weeks old

– 4-6 ounces (120-180 mL) per feeding
– 5-6 feedings per day
– Total of 24-36 ounces (720-1080 mL) per day

However, every baby is unique. Premature or smaller newborns may need less formula at each feeding, while bigger, rapidly growing newborns may need more. Babies also tend to eat variable amounts from feeding to feeding.

Feeding Newborns on Demand

Newborns should be fed on demand, meaning when they show signs of hunger rather than on a strict schedule. Signs your newborn is hungry include:

  • Moving mouth/licking lips
  • Turning head looking for food
  • Bringing hands to mouth
  • Increased alertness or activity
  • Crying

Allow your baby to feed until they seem satisfied. Don’t try to force a newborn to finish a bottle. Let them stop when they lose interest or turn away. They may eat less some feedings and more at others. That’s normal.

Follow your baby’s hunger cues rather than sticking to a set amount per feeding. If they consistently seem hungry after finishing a bottle or uninterested and not finishing, discuss adjusting the amounts with your pediatrician.

Pace Feeding

Pace feeding, sometimes called responsive feeding, is a great technique when bottle feeding newborns. It involves:

– Holding the baby in an upright, seated position during feeds
– Keeping the bottle horizontal so the nipple is always filled with milk and the flow is slow
– Providing breaks by gently lowering the bottle so the baby can pause and breathe
– Stopping when the baby shows signs of fullness

This prevents the baby from drinking too quickly or overeating. The slower flow allows the brain time to register when they are full. Use pace feeding right from the first bottle.

How Often Should Newborns Eat?

In the early weeks, newborns need to eat every 2 to 3 hours, around 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. This equals 6-8 feedings per day on average. Some newborns eat more frequently such as every 1.5 to 2 hours. Follow your baby’s hunger cues rather than the clock.

By around 6 weeks old, a newborn will start naturally spreading out feedings to every 3 to 4 hours with 5 to 6 feedings per day. But if they seem hungry, feed them. Don’t try to force a strict schedule or make them wait. Premature babies may need to be woken for feeds every 2 to 3 hours until they reach full term.

Newborns should not go more than 4 hours without eating in the first 6 weeks. If your baby sleeps longer stretches at night, wake them to feed at least every 4 hours. After 6 weeks when weight gain is established, it may be okay to let them sleep longer at night before feeding. Check with your pediatrician on guidance here.

How to Know If Baby is Getting Enough Formula

To tell if your newborn is eating enough formula, look for these signs:

  • Having 6 or more wet diapers per day by day 5-7
  • Having 3-4 stools per day that are yellow and seedy
  • Gaining 4-8 ounces per week
  • Seeming satisfied after feedings
  • Having good energy and alertness when awake

Consult your pediatrician if you notice any of the following:

  • Failure to gain weight
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Fussiness or hunger after feedings
  • Only having 1-2 stools per day
  • Dark stools or constipation
  • Fewer than 6 wet diapers per day by day 7
  • Excessive vomiting or spit up
  • Dehydration signs like few tears, dry mouth, or sunken soft spot

This can indicate a feeding issue like intolerance, reflux, or inadequate formula intake. Your pediatrician can help assess the problem and make feeding adjustments.

Common Newborn Feeding Problems

Some common feeding issues in newborns include:

Nipple Confusion

Switching between breast and bottle can cause nipple confusion where baby struggles to breastfeed. Try introducing a bottle after breastfeeding is well established, around 3-4 weeks old. Use slow-flow nipples that require sucking to avoid confusion.


Formula can cause gas pain. Try burping frequently during and after feeds. Hold baby upright for 10-15 minutes after eating. Bicycling legs, tummy massage, or warm baths can help pass gas.

Spit Up

Frequent small spit ups are normal. Try pace feeding, burping often, and keeping baby upright after eating. Check with your doctor if spit up is excessive or forceful.


Intense crying bouts in evening hours are common in newborns. Comfort techniques like swaddling, white noise, and motion can help. Consult your pediatrician if crying is excessive.


Spitting up larger amounts is known as reflux. Feed smaller amounts more often. Keep upright for 30 minutes after eating. Prescription medications or special formulas may help.

Lactose Intolerance

An inability to digest lactose sugar in formula causes fussiness, gas, and loose stools. Switching to a lactose-free formula typically solves this.


Allergic reactions to formula ingredients cause skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea and poor growth. Try switching formulas or using hypoallergenic, hydrolyzed protein formula.

See your pediatrician if your newborn has signs of a feeding issue. They can help identify the problem and find appropriate treatment options. Most feeding problems are easily managed with simple remedies.

Choosing a Formula

Formulas come in three main types:

Cow’s Milk-Based

This is the most common formula. The proteins are partially broken down to be easier to digest. Most babies do well on these standard formulas.


Made from soy protein isolates. Used for babies with lactose intolerance or milk allergies. Soy is also a suitable vegan alternative to cow’s milk formulas.


Special hypoallergenic formulas are made for babies with severe allergies or reflux. Hydrolyzed proteins are pre-digested into amino acids. These are sometimes needed for GI conditions.

Here are some things to consider when selecting a formula:

  • Cow milk or soy based on allergies/intolerances
  • Liquid concentrate, powder, or ready-to-feed
  • Organic options if desired
  • Store brand or name brand
  • Cost and availability

It’s best to choose a standard, cow’s milk-based formula first. Switch types if your baby has difficulties tolerating it. Any brand that meets FDA guidelines will provide complete nutrition. Both store and name brands are fine.

Preparing and Storing Formula

Formula must be carefully prepared and handled to avoid contamination and foodborne illness. Here are some tips:

Preparing Powdered Formula

– Always wash hands first
– Clean all equipment well
– Use clean, filtered water under 158°F
– Exactly follow label instructions for scoops and water
– Shake or mix well until powder dissolves
– Cool to room temperature before feeding

Bottles and Nipples

– Clean thoroughly in hot soapy water
– Sterilize using boiling water or steam sterilizer
– Allow to fully air dry before each use

Storing Formula

– Cover and refrigerate prepared bottles right away
– Use within 24 hours
– Discard any unfinished formula after feeding
– Freeze extra prepared bottles for up to 1 month


– Bring ready-to-feed formula or use clean water
– Carry prepared bottles in insulated bag with ice packs
– Discard any unfinished bottles after 1-2 hours away from refrigeration

Proper handling prevents dangerous bacteria from growing. This protects baby’s fragile digestive system. Discard unused formula rather than saving it to prevent illness.

Weaning Off Formula

Around 4–6 months, babies can start transitioning from formula to solid foods. This is the beginning process of weaning. Here are some tips for weaning:

– Go slowly over weeks/months based on baby’s cues
– Start offering pureed solids like cereals before meals around 4-6 months old
– Gradually increase daily solid feedings as formula decreases
– Replace one formula feeding at a time with solids
– Offer more finger foods and let baby self-feed as coordination develops
– Introduce cup around 6 months, breastmilk/formula in cup once mastered
– Finish weaning formula completely by 12 months old typically

Make the process gradual based on your baby’s reactions. Moving too fast may impact nutrition if solids don’t replace calories from reduced formula. Signs baby is ready for weaning include sitting up, losing tongue thrust reflex, interest in food, and good head control. Consult your pediatrician about appropriate timing and foods to introduce.

When to Call the Doctor

Contact your pediatrician regarding formula feeding issues if your newborn has:

  • Trouble latching or sucking
  • Fussiness or refusing to eat
  • Excessive spit up or vomiting
  • Green or bloody stools
  • Difficulty having bowel movements
  • Poor weight gain/growth
  • Weight loss or dehydration signs
  • Rash, diarrhea, congestion, or cough after eating

Other signs warranting a call include fewer than 6 wet diapers daily, no stool for 24 hours, inconsolable crying, or any other concerns about feeding tolerance.

Your pediatrician can assess whether an illness, allergy, or other issue is affecting eating. They may adjust formula type or feeding plan and provide remedies to get nutrition back on track. Prompt consultation for feeding problems is key to ensure optimal growth.


How much formula a newborn needs varies, but 25-35 ounces per day is typical. Feed on demand every 2-3 hours based on hunger cues in the early months. Pace feeding, frequent burping, and proper preparation help avoid issues. Work with your pediatrician to ensure baby stays well fed as needs change. With the right formula and feeding techniques, your little one will get the optimal nutrition they need to grow and thrive.

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