A Growing Baby: How Much Does My Baby Really Need?
Just when you think you have the hang of things, your little one switches it up again. You thought you had the right amount of bottles and formula figured out for each day, but now it doesn’t seem like enough. Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy, babies adjust their diets about every month for the first five or six months of life. Keep some guidelines in mind as you prep your next batch of bottles.
At four months old, your little one probably drinks between five to seven ounces per feeding and may go up to four to five hours between bottles. These numbers can vary a bit, but on average, she should drink about 2 1/2 ounces of formula a day for every pound of her body weight until she reaches seven to eight ounces for each bottle.
Your little one shouldn’t drink more than 32 ounces in 24 hours, though. It's easy to overfeed a bottle-fed baby. Feeding a baby too much can cause vomiting, diarrhea or too much weight gain. If it seems like your baby needs more than 32 ounces, consider starting your baby on solids, but talk to your pediatrician first. You want to make sure your little one is ready.
Follow your baby's signs to determine exactly how much she should drink. If she starts to get the wiggles or is easily distracted, she’s probably done. If she starts crying and frantically sucking on the empty bottle, get her a couple more ounces.
Keep in mind, there is a growth spurt around four months, so your baby might start chugging quite a few extra ounces, but this should last only a few days.
The other silver lining of her growing appetite and taking bigger feeds is that she may be ready to give you a full night of glorious, uninterrupted sleep.
Supplementing With Formula
If you’re using formula to supplement nursing, you have a couple options to make it work. The amount of formula you give your little guy depends on how much breast milk he drinks. A breastfed baby generally drinks around 25 ounces a day, so give him enough formula to make up the difference between how much milk you provide and the 25 ounces needed.
If you’re able, it’s best to nurse first. Then, supplement with any pumped milk you have and finally, top him off with as much formula as he needs.
If you’re interested in keeping up the nursing relationship, you can look into a supplemental nursing system. This is a system in which formula goes through a small tube attached to your nipple.
Many formula manufacturers make a number of different types of formula, including ones they consider “closest to breast milk,” so start out with that to see how your baby handles it. If you’re just starting to supplement with formula, keep an eye on your baby’s dirty diapers. Formula is digested differently than breast milk and leads to changes in your baby’s poop. If he seems to have trouble pooping, talk to your pediatrician.
Also, keep in mind that the more formula you give, the less milk your body makes. So, if you hope to keep up nursing, you need to find a balance if you’re able. In the end, though, your baby’s health and what works for your family is most important.
As a mom, it’s easy to second guess yourself and wonder if your little one is getting enough. Checking out her wet and dirty diapers can give you some peace of mind. Her wet diapers should have clear or very pale urine and shouldn’t have a strong smell. If any of her wet diapers have orange crystals, contact your doctor as this can be a sign of dehydration. Formula-fed babies generally poop once a day, but this can vary. As long as it doesn’t look like she’s having any trouble pooping, she should be fine.
If your baby still seems hungry, even after a full feeding, contact your doctor. Remember, she shouldn’t drink more than 32 ounces of formula in 24 hours.