How much should a newborn eat? Many mothers parenting for the first time keep on asking this common question. As a new mother, you may be wondering if you are feeding your baby enough food. While there is no specific amount of food that a newborn should eat, this article will help you estimate the amount of milk you should feed your baby.
Newborns have small tummies and therefore may not need to consume a lot of milk or formula. However, this may change as the baby keeps on growing. It is essential to keep on monitoring the newborn’s feeding pattern and capacity in every stage of development. In this newborn feeding guideline, you will get to know what to do as a new feeding mum.
How Much Breast Milk Should a Newborn Eat?
Day 1 after Birth
The amount of breast milk that your baby should eat greatly depends on the age. After giving birth, your milk-producing hormones stimulate the production of nutritious milk (colostrum). Since the colostrum is rich in antibodies, you should feed your baby about one teaspoon of the milk in every feeding for the first 24 hours.
You may probably be wondering when to start feeding your newborn. In most cases, feeding commences after 1 to 2 hours after birth before the baby becomes sleepy. At that time, the baby can latch with no difficulty. About 1 to 1.5 teaspoons per feeding are suitable for the baby’s small stomach.
At 3 Days of Age
As you continue to feed your newborn, your milk-producing hormones stimulate the production of more milk to fulfill the needs of your growing child. At this time, the baby’s stomach can hold up to 0.75 to 1 ounce in every feeding. During the first week of birth, it is advisable that you feed your baby between 8 to 10 times in 24 hours for better growth.
At 1 Week of Age
Your baby’s stomach capacity can hold between 45-60ml (about 1.5 to 2 ounces) of milk. The volume of your milk production would have increased at that time. However, this may vary with each parenting mother. Remember to consult your doctor to help you assess your baby’s nutritional requirements.
At 2 Weeks of Age
At the second week, the baby will have gained weight, and the stomach is about egg size. The stomach can hold up to 150ml of breast milk per feeding. That is between 2.5 to 5 ounces. By the end of the first month, your baby’s stomach can hold about 5 to 7 ounces per feeding.
Your milk productivity remains constant for the following weeks up to the 6th month when you can begin feeding your baby some semi-solid foods. Note that during the first six months, the newborn can gain between 4 to 6 ounces in a week. As the babies grow old, they tend to consume little amounts of breast milk but for prolonged feeds.
What if You Want to Formula-Feed Your Baby?
Formula feeding is more similar to breastfeeding. The only difference between the two is that with formula-feeding, you can measure each ounce of milk that the newborn takes. However, both types of feeding provide the same amounts of essential nutrients to the baby. Based on that, the amount of food that the newborn eats in a day should be the same, whether through breastfeeding or formula feeding.
When it comes to the feeding schedule, things might be different. The fact that formula takes a longer time to digest makes the feeding intervals to be longer. With formula, you need to feed your baby after every three to four hours, with about two ounces per feeding. At the end of four weeks, your baby’s stomach can hold up to four ounces of formula per feeding.
As the baby grows, you should consider adding at least one ounce after every month until the time when the newborn is six months old. At that time, the baby’s stomach can hold between 6 – 8 ounces of formula per feeding. At six months of age, the baby can take up to thirty-two ounces of formula in one day.
Newborn Feeding after 6 Months
After six months, the newborn’s feeding pattern gradually changes with a decrease in breast milk intake. At this age, most infants take up to 30 ounces of breast milk. That may reduce with time as the baby learns to eat more solid foods. Between 6 to 12 months of age, the baby can comfortably consume between 6-8 ounces of formula per feeding.
What are the Signs of Hunger in Your Newborn?
In most cases, new parents may view crying as the only sign of hunger. However, this may not be true in all babies because crying may be the last sign of hunger. Here are some of the signs that will show that your baby is hungry.
When the baby is;
- Moving the head from left to right
- Opening the mouth frequently
- Sticking out or rolling the tongue
- Placing the fingers, tongue, or feet in the mouth
- Showing the rooting reflex signs such as turning the head
- Licking the lips
If not fed at the time of such symptoms, the baby may continue to cry. Therefore, you should feed the baby before the last sign. However, crying does not always mean that the baby is hungry. Sometimes it may be due to discomfort or a need for attention.
How to Tell That Your Baby is Eating Enough Food
Gaining weight is one of the pieces of evidence that your child is feeding well. However, different babies have varying growth rates. As a parent, you need to do a routine checkup to monitor your child’s growth rate which you can determine by measuring weight.
Another way of telling if your baby is getting enough food is by checking the number of times the newborn wets the diapers in a day. Wetting between four to six diapers in a day shows that the baby is feeding well. If the newborn is happy and satisfied after eating, it shows that the baby got enough food or milk. Enough feeding can also be characterized by undisturbed sleep immediately after feeding.
As a new parent, it is good to always keep records of your baby’s feeding behaviors and patterns. Such information may include feeding intervals, feeding habits, and frequency of pooping. You should come up with a feeding schedule that will be convenient for your baby’s feeding conditions and requirements.