How Much Breastmilk or Formula to Give a Newborn

0-4 Months

Breastmilk or iron-fortified formula is all your baby needs for the first 6 months of life. As your baby grows, he will have different feeding patterns, making it difficult to know when to adjust your baby’s feeding routine to match his constantly changing needs. The best way to know for sure is to pay attention to his feeding cues. And remember, as long as he’s growing and wets his diaper consistently (at least six times a day after the first week), you’re doing just fine! Below are a few more tips that will help you with newborn feeding.


Feeding a newborn can be challenging, but the time you get to spend with your baby makes it all worthwhile. As a rule of thumb, most babies nurse every two to three hours in the first month of life—this includes nighttime too, which explains why most new parents have that “zombie” look. It’s normal for babies to nurse in the middle of the night for at least the first four months, but rest assured (pun intended) this phase won’t last forever.

Between 1 and 4 months, many babies will decrease the number of times they nurse to eight times per day; however, it may feel like they are nursing more often because many babies will “cluster feed.” This means your baby might prefer to eat several, small meals in a short period of time—like around dinnertime—compared to the times when his feedings are more spaced out. Once again, this isn’t a forever thing.

If you’re watching your baby’s feeding cues, you might discover he’s hungry and think, “Again? Didn’t I just feed you?” If this happens at a time when he doesn’t normally cluster-feed, it’s possible he’s going through a growth spurt.

Breastmilk bottle-feeding

If you are breastfeeding, there will be times when you need to give your baby a bottle, whether it be to return to work or to have a girls’ night out with your besties. This is a great way to learn how much your baby typically eats during each feeding. Remember, though, if you compare your baby’s bottle feeding to babies who are formula fed, chances are yours will take less. That is because breastmilk has more nutrients per ounce, and babies digest it more fully.

Between 1 and 4 months old, most breastfed babies will take in 2 to 4 ounces of breastmilk from a bottle every three hours.


As with breastfeeding, the formula feeding guide for babies birth to 4 months old varies as they get older.

  • During the first month, formula-fed babies consume 2 to 4 ounces every two to four hours through the day and night.
  • From 1 month of age to 4 months, formula-fed babies generally take around 4 to 6 ounces every four hours.

We know that formula can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should force a baby to finish a bottle. It’s still important to pay attention to your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. To reduce the formula waste, prepare a bottle with a smaller portion of formula. If he is still hungry, prepare another ounce or two.

If you are worried about how much your baby eats, or if he is eating much more or less than these amounts, talk to your baby’s doctor.