May 28, 2024

How Often And How Much Should Your Baby Eat?

How Often And How Much Should Your Baby Eat?

Becoming a new parent is like setting foot in uncharted territory. It’s a wonderful journey filled with tender moments, joyful firsts, and yes—a fair share of questions. One query that often tops the list for parents is 'how often should a newborn eat, how often do newborns eat?'

Relax! You're not alone in this quest to nurture and nourish your little one.

Feeding your baby is not just about providing nutrition—it's an art that intertwines love, care, and understanding of your baby's unique needs. Amidst the whirlwind of joy and exhaustion that comes with caring for a newborn, you might find yourself constantly wondering if you are feeding your baby enough or perhaps too much.

This is a common concern among new parents who are eager to ensure their child’s healthy growth and development.

Fear not—we're here to guide you through this exciting journey! We will discuss how much food your baby needs at different stages of their life, the signs they give when they are hungry or full, what changes in feeding routines to expect as they grow older, how often should a newborn eat, how often do newborns eat and so much more. Armed with this knowledge and understanding of how your baby grows at every stage will equip you to make informed decisions about their feeding habits.

First-Year Feeding Schedule - The Evolution of Baby’s Eating Habits

A parent's life revolves around deciphering their little one’s needs—among these, the most crucial is the feeding schedule. New parents find themselves asking how often should a newborn eat?

The answer to how often do newborns eat lies in understanding the evolving needs of your baby. Just as their physical growth and cognitive development change over months, so does their feeding schedule.

Newborn's Nutritional Needs: Feeding on Demand

During the initial weeks of life, newborns rarely adhere to a strict feeding schedule, which is perfectly normal and healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that parents feed newborns on demand rather than adhering to rigid schedules. This essentially means you feed your baby whenever they display cues of hunger, even if it hasn’t been long since their last meal.

This type of responsive feeding is essential during your baby's first few days and weeks for several reasons:

  • It accommodates your newborn’s small stomach capacity.
  • It encourages a robust milk supply if you're breastfeeding.
  • It helps ensure appropriate weight gain for your little one.

While the AAP doesn't promote time-bound feeding schedules during the initial 12 weeks, many paediatricians recommend feeding newborns at least every three hours during both day and night until they regain their birth weight. So don't fret about those frequent feedings—your newborn's tiny tummy needs filling more often!

Settling into Routine: 3 Months Old Feeding Schedule

As you navigate through the exciting journey of parenthood, you’ll notice that both you and your baby begin to settle into a rhythm by the time they are three months old. This is also when many parents transition back to work or start daycare for their babies—making a defined feeding schedule more necessary than ever.

At this stage, most infants continue to need feeds every three hours during daytime hours. Many also continue to wake up for feeds overnight. A typical feeding schedule might look like this:

7:30 am: Wake up, then milk

10:30 am: Milk

1:30 pm: Milk

4:30 pm: Milk

7:30 pm: Milk, then bedtime

10:30 pm: Milk (often offered as a "dream feed")

Remember, as you settle into this routine, it’s crucial to encourage healthy sleep patterns by ensuring your baby consumes most of their breastmilk or formula during the daytime.

Introducing Solids at Six Months

By the time your bundle of joy is six months old, it's time to start introducing solids! The AAP recommends introducing solids between four and six months of age as long as your baby is meeting appropriate milestones. Whether you're beginning with finger foods or purees, remember that breastmilk or infant formula remains the primary source of nutrition.

Despite the excitement of this new phase, it's important to note that solids are meant to supplement rather than replace calories from nursing or bottle feeding. Many parents continue with similar feeding schedules as they did at 3 months while incorporating a meal of solids during adult meal times.

A typical feeding schedule might look like this:

7:30 am - Milk

10:30 am - Milk

1:30 pm - Milk

4:00 pm - Milk

5:30 pm - Solids

7:30 pm - Milk

Feeding at Nine Months

As your baby approaches their first birthday, many parents start increasing the volume of solid foods they offer and decrease the number of bottles. Breast milk or formula should still make up the bulk of a baby’s nutrition at this stage, with a goal of 24-32 oz each day in addition to table food. A typical feeding schedule might look like this:

7:30am - Milk

11:30 am - Solids (lunch)

1:30pm - Milk

4:00pm - Milk

5:30pm - Solids (dinner)

7:30pm - Milk

The One-Year-Old Feeding Schedule

Your little one's first birthday is a significant milestone—that marks the transition from infant to toddler. At this stage, full-time food takes over as the primary source of nutrition and calories, and milk becomes supplementary to routine meals and snacks. A typical feeding schedule might look like this:

7:30am - Breakfast

10:30am - Snack

12pm - Lunch

1:30pm - Milk (bottle or cup)

4:00pm - Snack

5:30pm - Dinner

7:30pm - Milk (bottle or cup)

Understanding Your Baby’s Hunger Cues

Just as you've learned your baby's naptime needs and diaper change schedule, it's equally important to understand their feeding signals. Recognizing these cues can make feeding much less stressful for both you and your baby.

Babies have a unique way of communicating their hunger or satiety—whether through physical signs or changes in behaviour. For instance, early signs of hunger may include waking up, putting hands in their mouth, turning towards your chest or bottle if they're nearby, smacking lips, rooting around for the nipple if they're on your chest, or showing increased physical activity. Late hunger signs may manifest as crying or fussing.

Just as there are signs of hunger, there are also signals that your baby is full. These can include turning their head away, closing their mouth when offered more food, pushing food away, or slowing the pace of feeding.

Breastfed Babies Vs. Formula Fed Babies Vs. Combo Fed Babies

The frequency and quantity of feedings can vary depending on whether your baby is breastfed, formula-fed, or a combination of both—often known as combo feeding. Understanding these differences can help you better navigate your baby’s feeding schedule.

Breastfed babies may continue to feed on demand throughout the first year, including overnight. They often seek the breast for comfort and nourishment, which can increase the number of nursing sessions. As long as your baby is growing well and gaining weight appropriately, any variation in nursing frequency is typically normal.

Formula-fed babies tend to eat fewer times per day but drink more at each feeding compared to those who are exclusively breastfed. This consolidation of meals is typical as a formula-fed baby grows older.

For combo-fed babies—those who are both nursing and bottle-feeding—the frequency of feeds typically depends on whether they're nursing or bottle-feeding more frequently.

Introducing a Feeding Schedule

Successfully introducing a feeding schedule requires keen observation of your baby's natural rhythms and consistent implementation of meal times. Here are four tips to help ease this transition:

  • Start by observing your baby's natural eating habits for a week or two before you want to implement a feeding schedule.
  • Decide on a daily wake time and establish it as the time for the first feeding of the day.
  • Prioritize daytime calories over daytime sleep. If a naptime coincides with a feeding time, don't hesitate to wake your baby for their meal.
  • Stay consistent with any new routine you implement. The first few days may be chaotic, but consistency will lead you towards an enjoyable and predictable framework for your little one's daily meal times.

Nourishing Your Little One with Love and Care

Feeding your newborn involves more than just providing nutrition—it's about understanding their evolving needs, recognizing their unique hunger cues, and adapting to their growth stages with love and patience.

While it might seem challenging to track how much and how often your newborn eats, remember—it’s all part of the incredible journey of parenthood. Trust your instincts, observe your baby's unique patterns and behaviours, and never hesitate to seek professional advice when needed.

As you embark on this rewarding journey, remember that support is always at hand. And as you navigate through the beautiful chaos of raising your little one, Raising Superstars' Prodigy Framework™ can be the go-to guide for ensuring comprehensive child development without screen time. The Raising Superstars provide activity guides, expert coaching, and a supportive community to help you raise a well-rounded child.

The joy of seeing your tiny tot grow every day is immeasurable. So cherish each moment, celebrate every milestone and most importantly—enjoy the journey!

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