How Often Should I Feed My Baby Formula? 3 Things To Know

How Often Should I Feed My Baby Formula? 3 Things To Know

It’s often talked or written about how breastfed babies should be fed according to need.

Feeding according to need means feeding your baby when she shows feeding cues (e.g. turning her head from side to side with mouth open, sucking on her hands, sticking her tongue out, wriggling).

But what about bottle-fed babies? Should they be fed according to a feeding schedule or according to need?

Well, as with breastfed babies, it’s appropriate to feed bottle-fed babies according to need, regardless of whether it’s breastmilk or formula in the bottle.

So, how often should you feed your baby formula?

Here are 3 things you should know:

#1: Different Babies Need Different Numbers Of Feeds

Different babies show feeding cues at various time intervals – even time intervals between when an individual baby shows feeding cues varies.

Feeding your baby when she shows feeding cues using a paced bottle feeding method (see below) helps her get the amount of milk she needs, as opposed to an arbitrary or caregiver derived amount.

#2: A Paced Bottle Feeding Method Helps Babies Better Control Their Intake

When babies feed from a bottle, they cannot control their own intake as well as babies feeding at the breast.

When a baby sucks at the breast, she’s in control of how much she drinks because she can   suck in a way where she swallows or in a way where she doesn’t swallow. She can also be at the breast and not suck at all or she can just come off.

When drinking from a bottle, the firm bottle teat inside a baby’s mouth gives her a strong stimulus to suck and when she sucks, she gets milk whether she needs the milk or not. The relatively fast and continuous flow of milk from a bottle means she needs to keep sucking or be flooded with milk.

Nonetheless, you can help your bottle-fed baby to better be able to control her intake by using a paced bottle feeding method.

You can read more about paced bottle feeding (also dubbed, bottle nursing) and other helpful bottle feeding tips here.

#3: Unsettled Behaviour Doesn’t Always Mean Your Baby Is Hungry

Just like young breastfed babies, young bottle-fed babies also have periods where they cry a lot and sleep very little. These periods are often more about babies seeking emotional regulation as opposed to being hungry.

During these times, breastfed babies often cluster feed , meaning they have a lot of short feeds close together. Because bottle-fed babies cannot control their intake like breastfed babies, during these periods, trying to settle your bottle-fed baby in ways other than with feeding or offering only small amounts at a time (e.g. about 30mL).

Feeding your bottle-fed baby according to her own individual need by using a paced bottle feeding method helps her get the amount of milk she needs.

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Last Updated: October 14, 2015


Renee Kam is mother to Jessica and Lara, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.

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