How much formula does a newborn need in mL?

The amount of formula a newborn needs can vary quite a bit depending on their age, size, and overall health. However, there are some general guidelines for how much formula newborns usually need in those early days and weeks after birth. Keep reading for more details on estimating your newborn’s formula needs.

Formula Needs in the First Days of Life

In the very beginning after birth, a newborn’s stomach capacity is extremely small. They will need to eat very small, frequent feedings of breastmilk or formula. Here are some general guidelines for formula amounts in the early days:

  • Day 1: 5-10 mL per feeding every 2-3 hours (Up to 30 mL/day)
  • Day 2: 15-30 mL per feeding every 2-3 hours (Up to 90 mL/day)
  • Day 3: 30-60 mL per feeding every 2-3 hours (Up to 180 mL/day)

These small, frequent feedings help newborns gradually stretch out their stomach capacity. Their feedings will slowly increase each day as they are able to take more. Premature babies have an even smaller stomach capacity and lower calorie needs, so speak to your pediatrician about your premature newborn’s specific formula requirements.

Formula Needs in the First Week

After the first week, a newborn is still eating very frequently but is able to take in larger volumes per feeding. Here are the general guidelines for a newborn that is 1 week to 1 month old:

  • Up to 90-120 mL per feeding
  • Feed every 2-3 hours, about 8-12 times per day
  • About 700-1,000 mL (24-32 ounces) per day

However, all babies are different. Your pediatrician will monitor your baby’s growth and advise you if your newborn needs more or less formula than these averages.

Factors That Affect Formula Needs

While the above guidelines provide a general idea of newborn formula needs, the exact amounts your newborn needs can vary based on several factors, including:

  • Age: Needs increase gradually as babies grow and their stomach capacity expands.
  • Size: Larger babies may need more formula right from birth.
  • Health: Growth concerns or medical conditions may require adjusting formula amounts.
  • Formula type: Specialized formulas may have different serving guidelines.

Always follow your pediatrician’s recommendations about how much formula is appropriate for your baby’s specific needs, which may differ from general guidelines.

Tips for Feeding Newborns

Here are some tips to keep in mind when feeding formula to a newborn:

  • Always hold your newborn semi-upright when feeding to reduce choking risks.
  • Burp your baby half-way through feeds and at the end to avoid gas buildup.
  • Never prop bottles or let baby self-feed. Always hold the bottle to control flow.
  • Throw away any unfinished formula left in bottles after feeds.
  • Watch for cues like increased sucking, rooting, or hands to mouth that signal baby is still hungry.

Switching from Breastmilk to Formula

If you are transitioning from breastfeeding to formula, try to do so gradually over a few days. Here are some tips for making the switch:

  • Start by substituting 1-2 breastmilk feedings per day with formula.
  • Slowly increase the number of formula feeds as you decrease breastmilk feeds.
  • Aim for a gradual transition over 5-7 days as tolerated.
  • Offer the same amount of formula as the breastmilk it is replacing.

This gradual transition allows your body to adjust milk production while helping baby get used to formula. Speak to your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Signs Your Baby is Still Hungry

Watch for these cues that your newborn needs more formula at each feeding:

  • Continues sucking or rooting motions with mouth after feeding.
  • Hands to mouth gestures.
  • Fussing or crying right after finishing the bottle.
  • Seems unsettled between feeds.

Offer another 1-2 ounces of formula if your baby shows signs of hunger, and discuss intake and growth with your pediatrician.

Signs Your Baby is Full

Here are signals that your little one has had enough formula and doesn’t need more:

  • Turns head away from bottle.
  • Loses interest or stops sucking.
  • Relaxed arms and hands.
  • Milk leaking from mouth.
  • Falling asleep.

Never force your baby to take more formula than they want. Stop the feeding when you observe signs of fullness.

What If Your Baby Won’t Finish Bottles?

It’s normal for appetite to vary from feeding to feeding. If your baby consistently leaves formula in the bottle, try these tips:

  • Offer smaller amounts of 2-3 ounces per feeding.
  • Try a different nipple flow size if milk flows too fast.
  • Feed earlier if it’s been longer stretches between feeds.
  • Gently burp halfway through feed or switch feeding positions.

Talk to your pediatrician if your baby is premature or has other medical concerns impacting feeding.

Weight Gain and Growth

To ensure your newborn is getting enough formula, monitor:

  • Wet diapers: Expect 6+ wet diapers per day after day 4.
  • Dirty diapers: Expect 3-4 stools per day.
  • Weight gain: Newborns should gain 4-7 ounces per week.

Insufficient wet diapers, lack of expected stools, and inadequate weight gain may indicate a need to increase formula intake. Consult your pediatrician.

Formula Feeding Schedule

While feeding on demand is recommended, a sample feeding schedule may look like:

Time Amount*
7 am 90-120 mL
9 am 90-120 mL
11 am 90-120 mL
1 pm 90-120 mL
3 pm 90-120 mL
5 pm 90-120 mL
7 pm 90-120 mL
9 pm 90-120 mL
11 pm 90-120 mL

*Amounts based on newborn 1-4 weeks old. Discuss your baby’s needs with their pediatrician.

Night Feeding a Newborn

Newborns need night feedings to ensure they get enough nutrition for growth and development. Expect to wake 1-3 times at night to feed a newborn formula. Here are some night feeding tips:

  • Aim for one longer stretch of 4-5 hours rest.
  • Have supplies ready at bedside like bottles, formula, burp cloths.
  • Keep lights dim and avoid overstimulation during feeds.
  • Gently rouse baby at 2-3 hour intervals if they sleep longer.
  • Alternate night feeds with your partner if possible.

As your newborn matures, they will sleep for longer stretches and drop night feeds on their own by around 2-4 months.

Preparing Formula Bottles

Follow these steps to properly prepare formula bottles:

  1. Clean hands, bottles, nipples, caps, and surfaces thoroughly before preparation.
  2. Always follow label instructions for mixing ratio and water source.
  3. Use proper scoop size and level off powder to ensure correct amount.
  4. Add powder first before water into bottle and shake to dissolve.
  5. Cool to room or body temperature. Do not serve cold from fridge.
  6. Discard any unused formula within 1-2 hours after feeding starts.

Proper hygiene, accurate measurements, and following safety guidelines when preparing formula are critical for infant health.

Choosing a Formula

Selecting a formula can seem overwhelming with so many options. Here are some tips:

  • Standard cow’s milk formulas like Enfamil are suitable for most healthy babies.
  • Specialized formulas like soy or hypoallergenic may be needed for reflux, colic, allergies etc.
  • Buy ready-to-feed or liquid concentrates if concerned about proper water sanitization.
  • Consult your pediatrician if your baby has any medical concerns.
  • Buy small quantities first in case you need to switch formulas.

Focus on formula with proper nutrients for growth and talk to your pediatrician if you have any formula questions.

How Much Powder Formula per Ounce?

The amount of powder formula needed per ounce of water is:

  • 1 scoop per 2 ounces of water for standard newborn formulas
  • 2 level scoops per 2 ounces of water for some gentlease/sensitive formulas
  • Read the label carefully for mixing instructions

Using the right powder to water ratio is important to provide proper nutrition and avoid dangerous overconcentration.

Cleaning Bottle Parts

Wash all bottle parts after each use to reduce harmful bacteria growth. Follow these steps:

  1. Rinse bottle and parts after each feeding.
  2. Wash thoroughly with hot soapy water and a bottle brush.
  3. Sterilize using a steam sterilizer or boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Allow all parts to fully air dry before reassembling.
  5. Deep clean nipples regularly by turning inside out and brushing thoroughly.

Dirty bottle parts can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses. Always inspect for milk residue and fully sanitize and dry all parts.

Formula Feeding Tips for Older Babies

As babies grow bigger, their formula needs change too. Here are some tips for formula feeding older babies:

  • Feed on demand, allowing baby to eat until satisfied
  • Amounts needed vary from 19-30 ounces daily on average
  • Offer 4-6 ounces per feeding every 3-4 hours
  • Follow label instructions to increase powder-to-water ratio as directed
  • Transition to infant formula and sippy cups around 6-12 months
  • Introduce solids around 6 months following pediatrician’s guidance

Monitor growth, diapers, and hunger cues closely as older babies have very variable appetites. Discuss any formula questions with your pediatrician.


Estimating the right amount of formula for your newborn can seem challenging but following their hunger cues and growth is key. While general guidelines suggest around 24-32 ounces daily is typical for young newborns, individual needs vary greatly. Work closely with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s formula intake, growth, or health. With some thoughtful preparation and safety measures, you can ensure your little one gets the nutrition they need in those critical early months.

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