Is my 3 week old eating enough?

As a parent of a newborn, it’s common to worry if your baby is getting enough milk. At around 3 weeks old, babies feed very frequently – usually 8-12 times per day. Knowing whether your 3 week old is eating enough can be confusing. This article will provide tips on identifying signs of hunger and fullness, average feeding amounts, and strategies to ensure your baby is properly fed.

How often should a 3 week old eat?

Most newborns need to eat 8-12 times per day, or about every 1.5 to 3 hours. This frequent feeding helps establish a good milk supply as mom’s body is signaled to produce more milk. At 3 weeks old, breastfed babies will likely feed 8-12 times per day and bottle fed infants around 6-8 feeds per day. Preterm or low birth weight babies may need to eat more frequently, like 10-15 feeds per day.

Feeding times can vary, but during the first few months, look for early signs of hunger like increased alertness, rooting, and mouthing behaviors about every 2-3 hours. Crying is a late sign of hunger. Allow your baby to feed on demand as this helps regulate their milk intake. Some babies may go longer stretches at night between feeds.

How do I know if baby is eating enough at each feed?

Signs your 3 week old is eating well during feeds include:

  • Audible swallowing
  • Long, rhythmic sucking bursts with pauses to breathe
  • Focusing intently and appearing satisfied during the feed
  • Comfortably latching and sucking from the breast or bottle nipple
  • Wet and dirty diapers meeting minimums (see diaper section below)
  • Weight gain and growth along their curve

Other signs that indicate adequate feeding:

  • Sucking that starts out strong and rhythmic then becomes intermittent with bursts of sucking and swallowing
  • Releasing or self-detaching from the breast or bottle when full
  • Falling asleep towards the end of a feeding or appearing content and relaxed after

How much should a 3 week old eat at each feeding?

Feeding amounts can vary significantly in the early weeks and months. On average, a 3 week old may eat around 2-3 ounces per feeding (60-90 mL). However, this amount can range from as little as 1 ounce to as much as 5 ounces. Breastfed babies’ intake can be harder to measure.

Rather than focus on the volume taken, pay attention to your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. Let them guide when and how much to feed. Their stomach capacity is small at this age, so they need to eat frequently. Over time feeding patterns will become more predictable.

Breastfed baby feeding amounts

For breastfed 3 week olds, feed on demand without limiting time at the breast. Watch for signs your baby is swallowing milk and appearing satisfied. Expect frequent, long feedings around 8-12 times per day. Some moms use a pre and post-feed weight check to see how much milk baby takes in.

Formula fed baby feeding amounts

Bottle fed 3 week olds may take around 2-3 ounces every 2-3 hours. Use paced bottle feeding, allowing baby to take short breaks. Watch for hunger cues, but do not force baby to finish a bottle. Their stomach capacity is only around 2-3 ounces at this age.

Below are some averages, but feed based on your baby’s cues:

  • 1 week old: 2-3 oz per feed
  • 2 week old: 3-4 oz per feed
  • 3 week old: 3-5 oz per feed
  • 1 month old: 4-6 oz per feed

How many wet diapers should a 3 week old have?

Wet and dirty diapers are a good indicator that your baby is eating enough and properly digesting the milk. Here are normal ranges:

  • Wet diapers: Expect at least 6 thoroughly wet disposable diapers per day. For cloth diapers, look for at least 3-5 heavy, soaked diapers.
  • Dirty diapers: Young breastfed babies should have at least 3-4 yellow, loose, seedy stools per day. Formula fed babies may have fewer stools, but at least 1-2 soft or semi-formed stools per day.

Call your pediatrician if you notice any decrease in wet or dirty diapers or if there are signs of dehydration or constipation.

Growth spurts and increased feeding

Around 3 weeks, it’s common for babies to go through growth spurts and show increased interest in feeding. Your baby may suddenly want to breastfeed more often and for longer durations. This is normal as their stomach capacity expands and metabolism increases. Feed on demand – increased feeding signals your body to produce more breast milk to meet demand.

During growth spurts, also pay close attention to diapers to ensure adequate intake. Offer an extra daytime feeding or bottle if needed. Growth spurts typically only last a few days before baby returns to a more predictable routine.

How to tell if your baby is still hungry

Even after feeding, some babies may show hunger cues again soon after. Signs your 3 week old is still hungry include:

  • Rooting or nuzzling behaviors
  • Increased alertness or agitation
  • Bringing hands to mouth
  • Moving head side to side searching for food source
  • Crying or unsettled behavior

If you suspect your baby is still hungry after feeding, try the following tips:

  • Offer the second breast if breastfeeding
  • Burp baby then offer second bottle if bottle feeding
  • Try a pacifier first to see if this satisfies
  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Gently rocking or swaying
  • Check diaper
  • Try a supplemental feeding if other hunger signs present

Fussing doesn’t always mean hungry. Your baby could need a diaper change, soothing, or just to be held. But if in doubt, offer more milk.

Signs your 3 week old is eating too much

It is uncommon for such a young newborn to overeat if feeding on demand. But some signs of possible overfeeding include:

  • Consistently spitting up large amounts after feeds
  • Excessive gassiness or spit up
  • Overflow crying and discomfort after feeds
  • Consistently needing to unlatch bottle
  • Difficulty burping
  • Decreased interest in eating
  • Failure to gain weight

To reduce overfeeding:

  • Burp frequently during feeds
  • Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues
  • Use paced bottle feeding
  • Offer smaller, more frequent feeds if needed
  • Avoid forcing baby to finish bottles

Talk to your pediatrician if you have ongoing concerns about possible overfeeding.

How to supplement breastfeeding?

Most experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months when possible. But if your 3 week old is showing signs of insufficient intake like excessive crying, poor weight gain, or inadequate wet diapers, speak to a lactation consultant about supplemental feeding options.

Ways to supplement breastfeeding may include:

  • Expressed breast milk: Use a breast pump to express breast milk and feed to baby via bottle.
  • Donor breast milk: Consult with your pediatrician about sourcing safe donor milk from a milk bank.
  • Formula: Discuss formula choice and amounts with your pediatrician.
  • Finger feeding: Use a supplemental nursing system device so baby gets formula while breastfeeding.

Aim to supplement after breastfeeding or pump to maintain milk supply if breastfeeding. Small supplemental feeds often help boost intake. Have patience as breastfeeding takes time and practice for both mother and baby to master.

When to call the doctor about feeding issues

Occasional feeding problems are common in newborns. But contact your pediatrician right away if you notice any of the following:

  • Failure to gain weight or weight loss
  • Little interest in feeding
  • Excessive fussiness during or after feeds
  • Consistently ineffective feeding
  • Fewer than 6 wet diapers per day
  • No bowel movements for several days
  • Vomiting or spitting up green fluid
  • Signs of dehydration like sunken eyes, sunken fontanel, dry mouth, lack of tears

Your pediatrician can assess for any oral motor or health issues interfering with feeding and provide support. They may recommend seeing a lactation consultant for help with breastfeeding techniques.

Tips for feeding a 3 week old

Here are some tips and strategies for smoothly feeding your 3 week old baby:

  • Respond early to feeding cues before baby becomes overly fussy.
  • Find comfortable, quiet feeding locations without distractions.
  • Alternate which breast you offer first if breastfeeding.
  • Use good positioning and latch for breast or bottle feeding.
  • Gently burp halfway through and at end of feeds.
  • Respect when baby shows signs of fullness.
  • Make night feeds calmer with minimal stimulation.
  • Ensure proper hygiene for pumping equipment and bottles.
  • Offer pacifier for soothing if needed between feeds.

Feeding a newborn can be challenging. Stay patient and keep a close eye on wet diapers, weight gain, and your baby’s signals. Your pediatrician and lactation consultant are great resources for troubleshooting any feeding difficulties.


Monitoring your 3 week old’s daily feeding routine, hunger and fullness cues, diaper output, and weight gain will help you assess if they are eating enough. Expect frequent feedings around 8-12 times per day and watch for early hunger signals. Breastfed babies should keep nursing on demand with no limits. Bottle fed babies may take 2-3 ounces per feed. Contact your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s food intake or weight gain.

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