At 3 months of age, a baby’s breastmilk or formula intake can vary quite a bit. On average, a 3-month-old needs around 25-35 ounces of breastmilk or formula per day. However, every baby is different and may need more or less than this range. As a general guideline, you can expect a 3-month-old to eat around 2-3 ounces every 2-4 hours during the day, with 1-2 longer stretches of 4-5 hours at night. Keep reading to learn more about how much breastmilk or formula a typical 3-month-old needs.
Average Breastmilk/Formula Intake Per Day
Most sources recommend that a 3-month-old baby consume around 25-35 ounces (750-1050 ml) of breastmilk or formula per day on average. However, some babies may need as little as 20 ounces or as much as 40 ounces per day to feel satisfied.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the recommended daily intake of breastmilk/formula for a 3-month-old is:
- 25-35 ounces per day on average
- Approximately 2–3 ounces every 2–4 hours during the day
Keep in mind that these amounts are guidelines only. All babies are different and may need more or less than the average. The best way to know if your 3-month-old is getting enough milk is to look for signs of satisfaction, steady weight gain, and an appropriate number of wet/dirty diapers per day.
At 3 months of age, most babies feed 8-12 times in 24 hours. This translates to a feeding every 2-4 hours during the day, with 1-2 longer stretches (4-5 hours) at night. Here is what a sample daily feeding schedule may look like:
- 7 AM – Breastfeed/bottle feed upon waking
- 9 AM – Breastfeed/bottle feed
- 11 AM – Breastfeed/bottle feed
- 1 PM – Breastfeed/bottle feed
- 3 PM – Breastfeed/bottle feed
- 5 PM – Breastfeed/bottle feed
- 7 PM – Breastfeed/bottle feed
- 10 PM – Breastfeed/bottle feed before bedtime
- 3 AM – Breastfeed/bottle feed
As you can see, baby is feeding about every 2-3 hours during the daytime hours, with one longer stretch of 5 hours at night. Keep in mind that all babies are different. If your 3-month-old wants to nurse more frequently, such as every 1-2 hours, or seems hungrier than normal, then it’s perfectly fine to feed them more often.
Daily Breastmilk/Formula Intake
Wondering just how many ounces of breastmilk or formula your little one really needs each day at 3 months old? Here’s a breakdown:
- Minimum: 20-22 ounces per day
- Average: 25-35 ounces per day
- Maximum: Up to 40 ounces per day
Formula Fed Babies
- Minimum: 20-22 ounces per day
- Average: 25-30 ounces per day
- Maximum: Up to 36 ounces per day
These amounts are general guidelines only. If your pediatrician has given you different guidelines specific to your baby, be sure to follow those instead.
At 3 months of age, most babies still wake up once or twice during the night for feedings. Here’s what you can expect:
- 1-2 night feedings, on average
- Night feedings every 3-5 hours typically
- Feeding amounts of 2-4 ounces per session
As your baby reaches 4-6 months, they will typically start dropping night feedings as they begin eating more during the day and can go longer stretches without eating at night.
It’s common for 3-month-old babies to go through growth spurts, where they seem hungrier than usual and want to breastfeed or take more bottles per day. Some common ages for growth spurts include:
- 2-3 weeks old
- 3 months old
- 6 months old
During growth spurts, don’t be surprised if your 3-month-old wants to feed more frequently, such as every 1-2 hours. Feeding on demand will help ensure your baby gets enough milk to fuel their growing body and brain.
Signs Your 3-Month-Old is Getting Enough Milk
Wondering if your baby is getting enough breastmilk or formula? Here are some signs that your 3-month-old is well-fed:
- Having 6-8 wet diapers and 3-4 dirty diapers per day
- Appearing satisfied and content after feeding
- Gaining weight appropriately
- Having good energy and activity levels when awake
- Sleeping well between feeds
If you are concerned your baby is not getting enough milk, talk to your pediatrician. They can weigh your baby, assess their intake and recommend solutions if needed.
Signs your baby may not be getting enough milk include:
- Lack of weight gain
- Fussiness or crying, especially 1-2 hours after feeding
- Waking frequently at night
- Less than 6 wet diapers and/or less than 3 dirty diapers per day
- Poor sleep
On the other hand, signs your baby may be getting too much milk include:
- Spitting up large amounts after feeding
- Excessive gas or colic symptoms
- Frequent wet and dirty diapers beyond normal ranges
- Gaining weight very rapidly
- Congestion or excessive mucus
How to Increase Breastmilk Supply
If your 3-month-old seems hungrier than usual or isn’t gaining weight well, it may be a sign your breastmilk supply needs a boost. Here are some tips for increasing low milk supply:
- Nurse frequently, at least 8-12 times per day
- Offer both breasts at each feeding
- Use breast compression while nursing
- Pump after nursing to fully empty breasts
- Ensure proper latch
- Stay hydrated and eat a nutritious diet
- Get plenty of rest
- Consider lactation supplements like fenugreek, fennel, or milk thistle
If you continue to struggle with supply, see a lactation consultant. They can provide personalized tips for your situation.
How Much Formula Should a 3-Month-Old Have?
If you are formula feeding your 3-month-old, here are some key points on formula intake:
- Most babies need 20-36 ounces of formula per day at this age
- Aim for around 2-3 ounces every 2-4 hours during the day
- Give baby 1-2 nighttime bottles with 2-4 ounces to minimize night wakings
- Use slower-flow nipples to prevent overfeeding
- Hold baby semi-upright during feeds and burp frequently to reduce spit up
- Watch baby’s cues – crying, turning head away, spitting nipple out etc – to avoid overfeeding
As long as your baby seems satisfied, is gaining weight well, and has appropriate diaper outputs, you can feel good knowing you are giving the right formula amounts for their needs.
To ensure your 3-month-old is getting the breastmilk or formula they need, keep these tips in mind:
- Follow baby’s feeding cues instead of sticking to a rigid schedule
- Aim for feeding every 2-4 hours during the daytime
- Let baby feed from one breast until satisfied, 10-15 minutes on each side generally
- Alternate which breast you start with
- Don’t force baby to finish bottles if they seem disinterested
- Burp baby frequently during and after feeds
- Hold baby semi-upright during bottle feeds to prevent excess spit up
Keep in mind that all babies are different. Your pediatrician can offer personalized advice on feeding schedules and amounts based on your baby’s health and development.
Introducing Solid Foods
Around 4-6 months of age, you can start introducing some solid foods to your baby’s diet. Until then, breastmilk and/or formula should make up the full caloric intake for a 3-month-old. Some signs baby may be ready for solids include:
- Good head and neck control
- Ability to sit upright with support
- Interest in food and watching you eat
- Chewing reflex
At first, solid foods will just be for fun and exploring new tastes and textures. Over time, you can gradually reduce bottle or breastmilk feeds as solids intake increases. But breastmilk or formula should still be the main source of nutrition at this age.
Common Feeding Problems
Some common infant feeding problems parents may experience include:
Spitting up is normal, but some babies have more severe reflux that can affect feedings. Talk to your doctor if reflux is an issue.
Excessive crying and gassiness can make feeding difficult. Colic often improves significantly by 3-4 months of age.
Allergies to milk proteins or formulas can cause gastrointestinal issues. Speak with your pediatrician if you suspect a sensitivity.
Slow Weight Gain
If baby isn’t gaining well or seems excessively hungry, increase frequency of feeding and speak with your pediatrician.
Babies can get distracted easily during bottle feeds. Minimize stimulation and gently re-focus baby’s attention to feeding.
Always speak with your child’s doctor if any feeding problems are impacting intake or growth. They can investigate the issue and help get your baby back on track.
At 3 months of age, breastmilk or formula is still the main source of nutrition for babies. On average, babies this age need around 25-35 ounces per day, or roughly 2-3 ounces every 2-4 hours. But some babies need more or less than this guideline, so it’s important to look for signs of satiety and proper weight gain to determine if your child’s individual needs are being met. Speak with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding amount, growth, or development. With patience and care, you can ensure your 3-month-old baby continues to grow and thrive on mother’s milk or formula.