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Once you have decied to formula feed your infant, there are several decisions you will need to make regarding formula choice, amount and timing of feeds, and when to increase feeds.

Which formula should you choose? 

For most babies, a standard cow’s milk based formula will be the best option (ie similac advance and enfamil premium).  There are many specialty formulas such as sensitive formulas and hypoallergenic formulas, but your pediatrician can help you decide if your infant needs one of these.  Premature infants (<37 weeks) are typically put on a special formula to provide more nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus, that a premature infant needs.

So how much should you give your newborn?  

In the first few days of life, a newborn’s stomach capacity is small and only ½-1 oz. per feed every 3 hours is usually enough. By 2 weeks of age, most infants have increased to 2-3 ounces every 3 hours.  Once your infant is a month old, most will be taking 4 oz. every 4 hours.  Make the increases gradually, by about ½ oz. at a time so you don’t overwhelm their stomach and cause them to increase spitting-up. One sign that your infant is getting an adequate volume is by the amount of wet diapers they have.  After the first few days of life, a newborn should have 6-8 wet diapers per day and at least one stool.  Signs that you need to increase the volume of feeding can be an infant getting hungry much sooner, like at the 2 hour mark rather than 3-4 hours.  Also, an infant who takes a feed quickly and seems to be rooting and “looking for more” likely needs to have the volume of a feed increased.  How to tell that an infant is satisfied with a feed?  A baby will usually slow down in a feeding and get distracted or fall asleep as they have had enough to eat.

Growing, growing, growing

After making gradual increases in formula volume, an infant is typically taking 6-8 oz. per feed by 6 months of age and is eating about 4-5 times a day.  A baby usually won’t increase above 6-8 ounces per feed after 6 months because they are also starting and expanding on solid foods by this time.  Remember to ask your pediatric provider any feeding or nutrition questions at your baby’s check-ups and check out the following websites for more information:

Healthy Children: Feeding and Nutrition

Strong4Life: Newborn Feeding