Whether you've decided to formula feed your baby from the start, are supplementing your breast milk with formula, or are switching from breast milk to formula, you're bound to have questions. Here are answers to some common queries about formula feeding.
It's generally recommended that babies be fed whenever they seem hungry, which is called demand feeding (or feeding on demand).
Most newborns who are formula-fed feed every 2 to 3 hours. As they get bigger and their tummies can hold more milk they usually eat every 3 to 4 hours.
And if your baby is very young, or having problems gaining weight, you shouldn’t go too long without feeding, even if it means waking your baby. In this case, talk to your doctor about how often your baby should be fed.
Signs that babies are hungry include:
Despite what you might think, crying is a late sign of hunger. You should give a feeding before your baby gets so hungry that he or she gets upset and becomes difficult to calm down.
It's also important, however, to realize that every time your baby cries it is not necessarily because of hunger. Sometimes babies just need to be cuddled or changed. Or they could be overstimulated, bored, or too hot or too cold. If your baby cries only an hour after a good feeding, there may be something else causing the distress.
In the first few weeks, mix 2- to 3-ounce (60- to 90-milliliter) bottles for your newborn. Gradually increase this amount as you become familiar with your baby's eating patterns and appetite. Here's a general look at how much your baby may be eating at different stages:
As babies gain weight, they should begin to eat more at each feeding and go longer between feedings. Still, there may be times when your little one seems hungrier than usual.
Your baby may be going through a period of rapid growth (called a growth spurt). These can happen at any time, but in the early months growth spurts often occur at around:
During these times and whenever your baby seems especially hungry, follow his or her hunger cues and continue to feed on demand, increasing the amount of formula you give as needed.
Babies grow at different rates, and at times you may wonder whether your baby is getting enough nutrients to develop properly. To help determine whether your baby is eating enough, follow the schedule of regular well-child checkups so that your little one can be weighed and measured.
In the meantime, your newborn's diapers are a good indicator of whether your baby is getting enough to ear. You'll probably be changing at least six wet and four dirty (soiled or "poopy") diapers each day at first.
Newborns' poop is thick and tarry in the beginning and then becomes more yellow or green as they get older. Formula-fed babies often have firmer, less seedy stools than breast-fed babies.
Wet diapers should have clear or very pale urine. If you see orange crystals in a wet diaper, contact your baby's doctor. Crystals are usually not a cause for concern, but sometimes they can be a sign of a baby not getting enough fluid or of dehydration. Other possible signs of underfeeding include:
If you're concerned or notice any signs that your baby isn't getting enough nutrition, call your doctor.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015
|U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.|
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Zero to Three Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|WomensHealth.gov The Office on Women's Health (OWH), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), offers reliable health and wellness information for women and girls.|
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