How to Bottle Feed
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Shel Banks
Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant based in the northwest of England, working within the NHS in research, training and project management, in private practice assisting mothers and babies with feeding issues, and the tertiary sector with various national organisations.
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Formula feeding

How often should I bottlefeed my baby?

Newborn babies may take quite small amounts of infant formula to start with. However, by the end of their first week, most will require approximately 150 to 200 millilitres (ml) per kg of the baby’s weight per day, until they are six months old. For example, a baby aged four months, weighing 6kg would need approximately 900–1200ml of infant formula per day. This amount will vary from baby to baby. As solid food is slowly introduced from around six months of age, your baby will gradually drink less infant formula.
In Short
After 7 days, most newborn babies will need approximately 150-200ml of formula per kilogram of their weight each day. This carries on until they are six months old when solid food is introduced alongside formula milk.

As solid food is slowly introduced from around six months of age, your baby will gradually drink less infant formula.

Look for signs of hunger to guide when to offer a feed.

Respect your baby’s signals of fullness and don’t force them to finish a bottle if they are full.

Your baby is likely to need night feeds for at least the first few months of their life.

Babies vary in how often they want to feed and how much they want to drink. If your baby is sleepy or may be going through a period of faltering growth speak to your health visitor for guidance on how to ensure your baby is getting enough formula milk each day.

When to feed?

Most babies gradually settle into a feeding pattern but you should feed your baby when they show signs that they are hungry. Newborn babies tend to feed little and often, so they may not finish their bottle. However, a big feed does not mean that your baby will go longer between feeds.

Night feeds

Formula fed babies will need night feeds for at least the first few months of their life.

How will I know if my baby is hungry?

As you get to know your baby you will recognize her signs that she is ready for a feed:

  • Your baby will begin to move their head and mouth around. Rooting for a feed.
  • They will open their mouth and suck on their fingers or anything that brushes against their cheek.

Crying is a late sign of hunger so if you can spot these early signs before your baby starts crying your baby will be easier to feed.

However, remember that babies cry for lots of different reasons. If they have been successfully fed recently then hunger is unlikely to be the cause of their crying.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough infant formula?

Your baby’s weight gain and the number of wet and dirty nappies will help to tell you if your baby is getting enough formula. Your baby should be producing around six wet nappies a day a few days after she was born. These nappies should be soaked through with clear or pale yellow urine.

For the first few days after birth, your baby will pass dark sticky poo (known as meconium). However, after the first week should pass pale yellow or yellowish-brown stools. Look at our poo gallery to see what meconium and formula fed poo looks like.

Your baby should have at least six wet and two dirty nappies each day. Babies produce different amounts of poo. However, if you are concerned your baby is not getting enough milk, speak to your midwife or health visitor quickly.

Your baby will be weighed (naked) at birth and again at around five and ten days. Once feeding is established, healthy babies should be weighed (naked) no more than once a month up to six months of age and at one year.

Your baby’s weight record should be completed on the chart in your Personal Child Health Record (the little red book). If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s weight gain, speak to your midwife or health visitor.

Breastfeeding, giving infant formula and introducing solid foods

If you are combining both breastfeeding and formula feeding and would like to discuss anything, such as increasing your milk supply, remember to talk to your midwife or health visitor. You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 to speak to someone, often local, about breastfeeding your baby.

Share the knowledge
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.