Every baby is born unique, some enter the world bald, some have a full head covered in dark strands; some fit in the size of your palm while others never even fit into newborn-sized clothing. Treating each baby the same, including how much he or she should eat, will likely leave you frustrated in the end.
How much a newborn should eat may seem like an easy question to answer, but when you take into account how much newborns sleep, the quantity per feeding or how frequent he or she wants food, it’s often a guessing game and one that leaves parents scratching their heads.
Ensuring Your Newborn is Adequately Fed
I remember being faced with this exact question when my husband and I brought our firstborn home with us almost seven years ago. I have a distinct memory of my husband and me, exhausted from getting up to feed him throughout the night, the two of us sitting together on a couch watching tv; he was feeding our son with a bottle and I was pumping some milk.
Neither one of us had chosen any particular show to watch, there usually isn’t much on at two in the morning anyway, but somehow this show came on with this mad-capped looking scientist discussing a topic that neither one of us can remember when the two of us burst out laughing in hysterics.
This is the type exhaustion one faces when bringing home a newborn baby, and exactly the reason why you need a tried-and-true tested method that will ensure that your newborn is adequately fed.
The Difference Between Breastmilk and Formula
Hopefully, you have made a plan of how you intend to feed your baby before he or she arrives, but keep in mind that this, much like your birthing plan, can change. My first started off with formula and was switched to breastfeeding whereas my second started with breast milk and then was switched to formula.
According to thebump.com one of the main differences between the two is that you can measure out formula whereas with breast milk you feed more on demand. In some cases, you may even do both; a mom may choose to breastfeed while dad uses formula.
Ultimately, so long as your baby is happy, whatever way you choose, is perfectly acceptable. Thebump.com also suggests taking the weight of your baby and multiplying his or her weight by 2 ½, the end result will give you the amount in ounces you need to feed your newborn per day.
Although the calorie per ounce of breastmilk and formula is approximately the same, a baby’s stomach will digest the formula more slowly, thus the time between feedings may be different between the two.
At the beginning, you can expect your newborn to eat about 2 ounces per feeding and increase to 4 ounces over the first month. As for how much should a one-month-old eat, expect your little one to be in between 4-6 ounces when you reach that point.
Thebump.com has a nifty feeding chart that will help you in the beginning. That being said, my second born was eating astonishingly 4-5 ounces per feeding after three days, so it’s important to realize these are just guidelines.
Learn to Keep Track of Your Baby’s Feedings
Now that you feel more comfortable with knowing approximately how much your newborn should eat, you are likely wondering how often should you be feeding your newborn?
The benefit of having a baby shower and friends who are already parents themselves was a great help to me. I was fortunate to have my sister-in-law have my niece three months prior to the birth of my first son; she was able to pass along what I like to call the savior to my sanity.
Keep in mind this is slightly prior to all the apps that have come out; she gave me a baby journal that let me track all feedings, diaper changes, and sleep time. Without this journal log, in my exhausted state, I would never have been able to remember that my son had eaten 3 ounces of formula at 2:00 am and then 1 ounce at 4:00 am.
That book went with me wherever my son and I went, from my bedroom to my diaper bag, and I jotted down all the information to keep me on track and to help me identify his feeding pattern. Want one of your own? Try this little gem on for size.
If, however, you prefer a mobile version, there is a variety to choose from; it depends entirely on your preference. One thing to keep in mind is that light from your phone may hinder your ability to fall back to sleep once your baby is fed and put back down during the night.
Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Signs
If you are still concerned as to whether or not your newborn is eating enough, learn to read the cues that your baby will do or even leave behind.
Signs of your baby rooting, or searching for food, is a telltale sign that he or she is hungry. Checking his or her diaper when it is changing time, you can be satisfied that baby is feeding well when the diaper comes out full.
Another way to be sure is to weigh him or her on a scale. Keep in mind that this scale must be able to measure ounces, but if you are wanting to be completely sure that your little one is getting enough you can weigh him or her before and after a feeding.
Also, some days your baby might suddenly seem hungry in between his or her normal feedings; don’t worry, this is likely a sign of a growth spurt. Your little one will resume his or her pattern after a day or two.
You’ve Got This
Although many parents want a concrete method to know how much they should feed their newborn the best answer is to trust your instincts and your baby’s.
Overall You Should:
- Follow the guidelines of a trusted site and talk with your pediatrician
- Find a way to keep track of your feedings whether using a journal or an app on your phone
- Follow your baby’s cues and signs
If you still feel unsure about how much your newborn should eat, I invite you to leave your questions below. If you have a great story to tell, don’t hesitate to share, our readers would love to hear your own experiences and what has worked for you.