Baby Feeding

New parents always have a lot on their minds, including serving up the best foods for their babies. The happy news is that it’s pretty easy to provide the nutrients babies need once you learn what they are. All babies develop at different rates and have different nutritional needs, but you can use these guidelines to learn more about what, how much, and when to feed your infant.

Your newborn will nurse about 8 to 12 times per day during the first weeks of life. In the beginning, mothers may want to try nursing 10–15 minutes on each breast, then adjust the time as needed.

Breastfeeding should be on demand (when your baby is hungry), which is generally every 1–3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll nurse less often and have longer stretches between feedings. Newborn babies who are getting formula will likely take about 60 – 90 ounces every 2–4 hours. Newborns should not go more than about 4–5 hours without feeding.

Signs that babies are hungry include:

  • Moving their heads from side to side
  • Opening their mouths
  • Sticking out their tongues
  • Placing their hands and fists to their mouths
  • Puckering their lips as if to suck
  • Nuzzling against their mothers' breasts
  • Crying and fussing are later signs. The sooner you begin each feeding, the less likely you'll need to soothe a crying baby

A feeding schedule is not necessary — you and your baby will get into a routine. Babies know (and will let their parents know) when they're hungry and when they've had enough. Watch for signs that your baby is full (slowing down, spitting out the bottle or unlatching from breast, closing the mouth, turning away from the breast or bottle) and stop the feeding when these signs appear.

As babies grow, they begin to eat more at each feeding and can go longer between feedings. There may be other times when your infant seems hungrier than usual. Continue to nurse or feed on demand. Nursing mothers need not worry — breastfeeding stimulates milk production, and your supply of breast milk will adjust to your baby's demand for it.

Try burping your baby or waiting a minute before offering your breast or the bottle again. As your baby gets older, he or she may take in more milk in less time at each feeding.

Commonly asked questions