How Much Should a Newborn Eat?
As a new mom, it can be worrisome wondering if your baby is getting enough food. This is an especially prevalent worry among moms who breastfeed. The answer generally stems down to - it depends on your baby. Sure, there are guidelines, but each baby has different needs. It can be helpful to have a general overview, but keep in mind your baby may need a little less or a little more.
When you breastfeed, there is no way to really track ounces unless you are pumping and pouring the breastmilk in a bottle. What you do instead when you breastfeed is nurse on demand, especially in the first few months. Your baby will let you know - don’t worry! Usually you can expect to nurse about every two to three hours and your baby will consume around 90 percent of your breastmilk within the first 10 minutes. You can expect your newborn to nurse at least 8-12 times per day during the first month. Once your baby reaches 4-8 weeks old, you will notice this pattern will decrease to around 7-9 times per day.
If you are feeding your baby formula, you will offer 1.5-3 ounces for each feeding. Typically, a newborn will go 2-3 hours on average between feedings. If your baby doesn’t wake up by himself in the middle of the night to eat during the first month, it’s ideal for you to wake him so he can form his own feeding schedule. Sometimes formula-fed babies can sleep longer as the formula sits heavier on their stomach, so they may need help waking up. As your baby grows, he will need more ounces. For example, around two months, you may notice he will start wanting around 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours.
Watch For Hunger Cues
You can sometimes catch your baby getting hungry before he starts crying. Not every baby will always show signs, so don’t be hard on yourself if your baby skips it all and starts full-force crying. Some cues to watch for are:
- Fussiness (Depending on the time he last ate)
- Leaning toward a bottle or your breast
- Sucking on fingers or hands
- Puckering lips
- Opening mouth
- Sticking out tongue
How Can You Tell If Baby is Eating Enough?
According to kidshealth.org, there are various ways to tell if your newborn is eating enough. First, know that babies will grow at different speeds. It’s common to worry if your baby is getting enough nutrients, though. Always keep your well-child checkups so your little one can be measured and weighed. The pediatrician will let you know if baby is right on schedule and which percentile he is in.
In between doctor appointments, diapers are an indicator if your newborn is getting enough food. You should be changing at least six wet and around four dirty diapers per day in the beginning. Keep in mind that a newborn’s poop is tarry and thick after you bring them home from the hospital. This is normal and it will change to a more greenish yellow color as they get older. A formula-fed baby is going to have less seedy and firmer stools than a breast-fed baby. A wet diaper is normal when you see a clear or pale urine. If you ever see orange crystals during a wet diaper change, call the pediatrician because it’s a potential sign of dehydration.
If your baby isn’t getting enough food, he would not keep gaining weight and wouldn’t be satisfied after eating. As always, if you’re ever concerned, give your pediatrician a call - that’s what they are there for, and they will ease your mind.