During the first year of your baby's life, it's common to wonder if your child is getting enough to eat and how often to feed him. Even though Baby cannot actually tell you when he's full, often he will take charge of feedings by giving you cues to when he is hungry or full. Learn how much and how often to feed your baby based on these guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Breastfed babies need to eat every two to three hours and usually consume about 90 percent of your breast milk in the first 10 minutes of feeding. Formula-fed babies generally need to eat every three to four hours and usually eat about 2-3 ounces of formula per feeding. During the first month, if Baby does not wake himself up in the middle of the night to eat, it is best for you to wake him to establish a feeding schedule.
When feeding your newborn, pay attention to his hunger cues to tell when he has had enough to eat. Most babies will become disinterested in the bottle or breast when full. He may fall asleep, turn his head, or even push the bottle or breast away. On the other hand, if Baby finishes his bottle but is still hungry, he may smack his lips or cry as a signal for more.
Between 1 and 3 months, your baby's appetite will increase and she'll become more vocal about telling you when she's hungry -- especially since she's likely on a pretty regular feeding schedule by this point. By the time she reaches 3 months of age, she should be eating about 5 ounces of milk about six to eight times a day. If you are breastfeeding, breast milk production will naturally increase or decrease based on the need of your baby.
Between 4 and 6 months, your baby will start to sit up and grab for objects on his own. As he masters that grabbing skill, you may opt to start introducing cereal into his diet. Baby should eat 1-2 tablespoons of cereal twice a day. The cereal is a snack and should not take the place of milk as the main source of nutrients.
At 6 months, Baby will consume about 6-8 ounces of formula or breast milk at each feeding. This is in addition to cereal and other baby foods. Again, Baby will signal to you when he is full. Your baby should never eat more than 32 ounces of milk in a 24-hour period. If he seems to have an insatiable appetite or doesn't seem to be eating enough, contact your pediatrician.
Between 8 and 12 months, Baby will start to eat more solid food. Try mixing up his diet to include soft foods along with formula or breast milk. Because of the addition of solid food, Baby's dependence on milk as a primary source of nutrients drops, however intake of milk is still important at snack time and before bed. Baby should drink 4-6 ounces of milk per snack or meal. Before bed he may drink another 6-8 ounces.