Baby feeding every 2 hours formula
Formula Feeding FAQs: How Much and How Often (for Parents)
Whether you plan to formula feed your baby from the start, want to supplement your breast milk with formula, or are switching from breast milk to formula, you probably have questions.
Here are answers to some common questions about formula feeding.
How Often Should I Feed My Baby?
Newborns and young babies should be fed whenever they seem hungry. This is called on-demand feeding.
After the first few days of life, most healthy formula-fed newborns feed about every 2–3 hours. As they get bigger and their tummies can hold more milk, they usually eat about every 3–4 hours. As babies get older, they’ll settle into a more predictable feeding routine and go longer stretches at night without needing a bottle.
Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about feeding your baby, especially if your baby is very small, is not gaining weight, or was born early (prematurely).
How Can I Tell When My Baby Is Hungry?
Signs that babies are hungry include:
- moving their heads from side to side
- opening their mouths
- sticking out their tongues
- placing their hands, fingers, and fists to their mouths
- puckering their lips as if to suck
- nuzzling again their mothers' breasts
- showing the rooting reflex (when a baby moves its mouth in the direction of something that's stroking or touching its cheek)
Babies should be fed before they get upset and cry. Crying is a late sign of hunger. But every time your baby cries is not because of hunger. Sometimes babies just need to be cuddled or changed. Or they could be sick, tired, too hot or too cold, in pain, or have colic.
How Much Should My Baby Drink?
In the first few weeks, give 2- to 3-ounce (60- to 90-milliliter) bottles to your newborn. Give more or less depending on your baby’s hunger cues.
Here's a general look at how much your baby may be eating at different ages:
- On average, a newborn drinks about 1.5–3 ounces (45–90 milliliters) every 2–3 hours. This amount increases as your baby grows and can take more at each feeding.
- At about 2 months, your baby may drink about 4–5 ounces (120–150 milliliters) every 3–4 hours.
- At 4 months, your baby may drink about 4–6 ounces (120-180 milliliters) at each feeding, depending on how often they eat.
- By 6 months, your baby may drink 6–8 ounces (180–230 milliliters) about 4–5 times a day.
Watch for signs that your baby is hungry or full. Respond to these cues and let your baby stop when full. A baby who is full may suck with less enthusiasm, stop, or turn away from the bottle.
Why Does My Baby Seem Hungrier Than Usual?
As babies grow, they begin to eat more at each feeding and can go longer between feedings. Still, there may be times when your little one seems hungrier than usual.
Your baby may be going through a period of rapid growth (called a growth spurt). These can happen at any time, but in the early months are common at around:
- 7–14 days old
- between 3–6 weeks
- 4 months
- 6 months
During these times and whenever your baby seems especially hungry, follow their hunger cues and continue to feed on demand, increasing the amount of formula you give as needed.
Is My Baby Eating Enough?
At times, you may wonder whether your baby is getting enough nutrients for healthy growth and development. Babies who get enough to eat seem satisfied after eating and are regularly peeing and pooping.
At your baby’s checkups, the doctor will review your baby’s growth chart, track your little one’s development, and answer any questions. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s feeding and nutrition.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: November 2021
Newborn Feeding Every 2 Hours
Is your newborn feeding every 2 hours at night? Whether breastfed or formula-fed, lean how to stretch feedings and sleep a little longer.
Every 2 hours.
Almost on cue, your newborn will wake up after 2 hours screaming for yet another feeding. It doesn’t help when moms of other babies—even younger than yours—are stretching their feeds, sometimes up to five hours at night.
Yes, she’s still in the newborn stage, so you understand that her tummy is small and her sleep is erratic. But weeks, even months, into parenthood and your little one still wakes up every 2 hours on the dot.
And so, the questions pile on.
How can you get her to sleep in longer stretches? Is it normal for her to still feed so frequently, especially when others seem to go longer between feeds? Could you be doing something that’s holding her back instead of encouraging her to eat more?
How to handle your newborn feeding every 2 hours
Weeks and months after welcoming my first-born home, I still felt stuck.
Frequent feedings seemed more understandable in the early days, but when you’ve been doing this forever, it can feel depressing. I didn’t know when I’d ever get a full night of sleep again, and started to resent how often my baby nursed, especially at night.
In hindsight, I can see how short those weeks and months are compared to the grand scheme of things. But when you’re in that moment, every day can feel like an eternity, not knowing if or when life will feel normal again.
Rest assured mama, feeding every 2 hours is normal, not only in the newborn stage but I’d say throughout our lives. Think about it: even adults tend to eat in 2-3 hour chunks, with snacks eaten between meals.
But the biggest concern you likely have is the frequent feeding at night. Maybe you’re wondering when your baby will be able to eat mostly during the day and sleep at night. Because eventually, we all consume our calories during the day, even older infants. Why does it feel like yours is so far from that point?
First, an important note: a newborn isn’t going to sleep the whole night just yet. I sleep trained my kids to go 11-12 hours straight only once they were well past the newborn stage. That said, what do you do when your little one is still too young to sleep train, but you want to encourage her to go longer between feeds?
Take a look at these steps you can try:
1. Don’t keep your baby awake too long
As a first-time mom, I assumed babies would sleep when they were tired. So, it wasn’t unusual for me to keep my baby awake for long stretches, unaware that he needed help falling asleep.
Only later did I learn that keeping him awake led him to feeling overtired and cranky. The result? Frequent wake ups between feeds and a more difficult time settling him back down.
In other words, there’s a good chance your newborn is waking up every 2 hours not out of hunger, but from feeling overtired.
Try not to keep her awake too long—90 minutes at most, and sometimes she’ll need to sleep as soon as 45 minutes after waking up.
Free: Do you struggle with getting her to sleep? Her awake time just might be affecting how well she sleeps or not. Join my newsletter and get One Mistake You’re Making with Your Baby’s Awake Time—at no cost to you.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did—help her fall asleep with this one simple trick! Grab it below:
2. Feed often during the day
Feeding on demand is so important during the newborn stage, but tell that to any new mom and you might be met with dagger eyes. After all, it can be difficult to feel tied to your baby 24/7, especially if you’re the only one who can feed her.
But feeding on demand, especially during the day, ensures that she’s getting all the food she needs. Don’t try to cap her off or put her on a schedule. Instead, follow her lead and feed as often as she wants during the day.
And hopefully, by having fed plenty the whole day, she’ll have less of a need to wake up often at night. Don’t expect her to sleep through the night yet, but at least you’re filling her up during the day when she’ll start to take in most of her feeds down the line.
How to handle a newborn constantly feeding.
3. Feed extra before bedtime
The first stretch of sleep after bedtime tends to be the longest. This is when you’ll likely grab five hours of uninterrupted sleep compared to, say, four o’clock in the morning. Help your baby sleep longer for that first stretch by offering her a bit of extra food for her bedtime milk.
If you breastfeed, see if she’ll take a few extra minutes of nursing (or simply wait for her to pull away instead of putting a time limit). If you bottle-feed, try to add an extra ounce before setting her down for the night.
By topping her off with extra milk, you can ensure that she won’t wake up too soon after from hunger.
4. Dream feed
If you’re like most parents, you put your baby down for the night before your own bedtime. For instance, you might set her down at 7:30pm, then head to bed yourself at 10pm.
One trick that can pre-empt her first wake up is to offer a dream feed before you go to bed yourself. Let’s say you go to sleep at 10pm. Give her another feed at 9:30pm to top her off even further for the night. This allows you to feed her while you’re still awake and alert, and extends her feeding even more.
It’s okay if she’s groggy and half asleep as she feeds—there’s no need to wake her up all the way. This is more to give her a feed before she asks for it while you’re still awake.
Get more tips about dream feeding.
5. Make sure your baby is actually eating
Does it seem like your baby wakes up right after you had just fed her? There might be a chance she’s not even drinking at all, which could explain why she’s hungry so soon after feeding her. Instead of drinking, she might be half asleep and sucking for comfort, especially if she drifts off to sleep mid-feed.
How can you tell she’s eating? Listen for a swallowing sound—she should actually be gulping milk down. And look at her throat to see if it moves with each gulp. If you don’t hear a sound and her throat doesn’t move, she just might be moving her mouth and sucking.
If you suspect that she falls asleep, burp her mid-feed, talk to her, tickle her, and otherwise ensure that she stays awake while she feeds.
Learn how to stop your baby from snacking on the breast.
6. Give your baby a chance to settle
Newborns are notorious for making all sorts of sounds, even while they’re sound asleep. But back then, I’d sit up right away the minute my little guy made a peep (it didn’t help that he was in the same room as me). I felt compelled to scoop him up immediately, fearing that those sounds would escalate into full-on cries.
I’ve since learned that those sounds, and even the small whimpers and cries, can often settle on their own. The next time you hear your baby cry, try to discern the type of cry first. Does she sound like she’s complaining and whimpering, or is she angry and in need of your attention right away?
If it sounds like she might settle down, wait one minute. She might not be waking up out of hunger. This is also a little practice that will help her overcome small discomforts.
A newborn feeding every 2 hours isn’t always easy to handle. Your baby finally falls asleep, only to rest for a short while before he seems hungry again. How can you get him to sleep longer at a time?
Don’t keep him awake too long, as frequent wake ups could be a result of feeling overtired. Feed often during the day instead of capping him at a certain time or by a particular schedule. Give him extra milk before bedtime and take advantage of that long first stretch of sleep.
Before heading to bed yourself, offer a dream feed to top him off for the night while you’re still awake and alert. Make sure he’s actually eating and not just sucking for comfort. And lastly, don’t feel compelled to respond right away—he might be asleep or making small sounds and eventually settle herself down.
You can do certain things to help you stretch those feedings at night—instead of waking up every 2 hours as if on cue.
Get more tips:
- How to Get Your Baby to Adjust Using a Newborn Schedule
- 4 Reasons Your Baby Never Seems Satisfied After Breastfeeding
- Baby Feeding Every Hour (And Not Sleeping, Either)?
- 11 Ways to Cope with Newborn Sleep Deprivation
- 12 Things to Do When Your Newborn Fights Sleep
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and get One Mistake You’re Making with Your Baby’s Awake Time—at no cost to you:
Up to what age to feed the baby at night and how to replace formula
Baby formula is only a forced measure to replace mother's milk in the absence of sufficient lactation or underweight in the baby. In all other respects, the infant formula feeding algorithm remains the same as with breastfeeding. The baby also needs nightly feedings about every 3-4 hours. This is due to scientifically proven facts. Babies up to a year old have an accelerated metabolism, food is digested faster, and naturally, they experience hunger at night. Also, any anxiety of the baby at night forces him to demand his mother's participation, and of course - food as a sedative. There is even a theory that children are genetically woken up to eat to avoid "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" in their sleep.
But also can't it continue indefinitely? The child grows, develops actively, from the age of 6 months receives a variety of complementary foods, and over time should form a normal daily routine. And for this you need to figure out: how to wean a child at night to eat the mixture in the most gentle ways.
Up to what age to give the mixture at night
Experts differ on this issue, but the average age when you can do without night feedings is nevertheless deduced. Infants with normal development can sleep peacefully at night without formula 10-12 hours from 9-12 months. Of course, if parents do not consider it necessary to restrict their child in nutrition, they can safely continue to feed their child at night and beyond. But they must be aware that, firstly, over time, these periods of eating become just a habit for the baby. And secondly, mothers should also think about their own well-being after sleepless nights. So, the approximate age of weaning a child from night feedings has been determined, it remains to find out how to replace the mixture for the night after a year for the first time of the transition to a new regimen.
Night formula alternative
Formula feeding formula is extremely nutritious and delicious for your baby. Therefore, the nightly replacement should be unequal, so that the baby subsequently feels that he does not need to wake up for such food. For these reasons, many mothers, thinking about how to replace the mixture for the night, use not the best products. It is strongly not recommended to use compotes or juices, because the ultimate goal is a complete and painless rejection of night food. In addition, fruit drinking can cause flatulence and abdominal pain - not the most favorable factors for restful sleep.
It is better to replace the traditional food at first with a well-diluted mixture, and then with pure water. At the same time, you need to try to slightly shift the period of falling asleep and provide the child with peace and a hearty dinner before going to bed. During the gradual transition to a new way of life, it is not necessary to immediately offer a diluted mixture to the awakened baby at night, it is better to try to calm him down in a different way - caress, rock him. And since night meals a priori will cease to be delicious food, the child himself will gradually forget about it, but the wise human body will be rebuilt anyway.
Child asks for food every hour: feed on schedule or on demand?
Kizino Polina Aleksandrovna
pediatrician, perinatal psychologist
What should and should not be done if a newborn baby asks for food every hour? Polina Kizino, a pediatrician and leading expert of the Smart Mama online school, gives advice on breast milk and formula feeding, as well as on cluster feeding of an infant, which will help even experienced mothers.
— Polina Aleksandrovna, why does the child ask for food every hour?
— A child needs frequent feedings at certain periods of his life and development. Here, the main problem is that often mothers do not distinguish between the child's need for food and his anxiety for other reasons. For them, a fussy baby is always hungry and needs to be fed. But acting by mistake, you can go beyond the norm.
— Is it worth keeping a baby's diet at all and how to avoid overeating?
— When breastfeeding, a baby can suck out different amounts of milk in different feedings and get hungry a little earlier or a little later, so a nursing mother needs to trust the baby more and follow his needs. The mixture stays in the baby's stomach a little longer than breast milk, and to avoid overfeeding, clear intervals between bottles are introduced. Mixed feeding will be a cross between breastfeeding and artificial feeding.
Overeating in a small child is rare. In extreme cases, if so much is eaten that the stomach does not hold food, the baby will spit up an extra amount of milk or formula.
- How much and how often to feed the baby day and night, and whether to set feeding hours.
How often to feed a newborn
— Why is the baby constantly hungry? And what if he often asks for food at night?
— You need to be careful and careful with night feedings. When a baby asks for food and is fed every hour, this is called cluster feeding. It is acceptable for one or two days, but if this happens for a long time, it is not normal.
The problem is that frequent "snacking" may be a constant violation of the regime, due to the fact that the baby does not receive enough attention from his mother. He may be full, but he needs to make contact with his mother, kiss her breast and thus relieve his anxiety. Therefore, you need to analyze the situation and try to understand why night feedings occur.
— Is it rational to reduce the amount of milk depending on the intervals between feedings?
— In the first month, you should not increase the intervals: on the contrary, you should try to stimulate lactation so that by the month it becomes mature. When a baby eats every three hours, and the mother suddenly takes a break, for example, at nine o'clock, this can affect the amount of milk later.
The baby is definitely growing. And if he received breasts at intervals of three hours quite regularly, then with the introduction of complementary foods, one feeding goes away, and the break becomes longer. With a systematic and gradual reduction in feeding, milk production adjusts to the rhythm of the baby's nutrition. The alternation of large intervals and frequent applications can negatively affect lactation. The body gets used to the lack of stimulation, and then it will be more difficult to increase the amount of milk in multiple feedings. Therefore, it is better to go to reduce breastfeeding gradually.
— Feeding according to the schedule - is it always good?
- Feeding at the same time can be both a plus and a minus. Mom is calm, trying to adapt to the children's routine and understands what awaits her in the near future. The baby also adjusts to a certain routine, which gradually prepares him for complementary foods on schedule.
The disadvantages begin when the mother artificially tries to adhere to the regime, not relying on the needs of her baby and not “feeling” him. Even under a regime, allowance must be made for new circumstances. And if a child has a need for food, he does not need to refuse, especially a very small one who still does not know how to wait for physiological reasons.
— How to determine how much food to give during one feeding?
- When breastfeeding, it makes no sense to calculate the volume, and it is difficult to measure it. On artificial feeding, the calculation is based on the age and weight of the baby. Usually, the amount of food per day is calculated: it is divided by the number of feedings at the moment. For example, if a child eats every three hours, then the volume is divided by eight or seven, and for older babies - by fewer feedings. Each age has its own formulas and calculations.
Approximate amount of infant formula by age and frequency of feedings
— How can you tell if a baby is gaining weight?
- We discussed earlier that at each age there are average norms (range) of weight gain. But gains above the norm does not mean the threat of obesity. Physiological features, height-weight proportions of the baby are taken into account. Even if the weight gain prevails over the increase in height, it is still not necessary to restrict the child in nutrition. It is important to meet his nutritional needs and not replace the milk/formula with water or dilute the formula with more water to reduce its calorie content. When nutrition is adequate, and the correct feeding regimen and eating behavior has developed in the family, as the child grows and masters new skills, the child will begin to expend more energy, and the reserves accumulated in previous months will quickly be used up.
— When is it time for an overweight baby to see a doctor?
— Babies up to a year old are observed by a pediatrician every month. At the appointment, the doctor can look at more pronounced weight gain and discuss whether the child is active enough for his age or needs stimulation. After all, it happens that babies are ready to crawl and roll over, and parents leave them to sit in a deck chair without the possibility of moving, or children spend a lot of time in a stroller, where they are also unable to realize their motor needs.
Don't forget about endocrine diseases that lead to obesity, although they occur very rarely. If necessary, the pediatrician will prescribe a consultation with an endocrinologist.
— What advice does the World Health Organization give about feeding children?
- WHO says baby should be breastfed on demand. Wants to eat every 40-60 minutes - you need to feed and not wait until he stops asking for a breast or the time between feedings is maintained.
However, a child's anxiety does not always indicate that he is hungry. Breastfeeding is not only about nutrition, but also about interaction. Sometimes breastfeeding becomes a satisfaction of the need not so much for food as for communication. If the child lacks attention, affection, care, then he can ask for a breast much more often, because at the time of feeding he has the opportunity to closely contact his mother.
— What are cluster feedings and why do they occur?
— Cluster feedings have been talked about relatively recently. These are situations when the baby is applied to the breast very often for some time, literally "hanging on the chest" to be with his mother.
Peculiarities of cluster feedings:
- are often observed in babies of the first month of life;
- may appear at two to three months or recur sooner;
- often coincide with growth spurts, when the baby's excitability increases, he learns new skills, receives a lot of information from the outside;
- usually last one or two days, and if it drags on, then it is necessary to analyze the sleep and wakefulness regimen, the presence of overvoltage, the adequacy of the child's nutrition and, if necessary, take measures;
- are not related to the mother's diet - however, in such a rather difficult period, it is desirable that the mother does not have aggravating factors in the form of a strict diet, which will negatively affect her well-being and mood.
A small child depends on his mother. When his level of anxiety rises due to certain changes in the body, he wants his mother to be around as often and as long as possible. Being on his chest for a long time, he calms down. This condition is normal for a child, and there is no need to wait for him to stop asking for breasts or asking for pens. You need to come to terms with the fact that there are such periods in the life of a baby, and organize your life in such a way that frequent cluster feedings do not interfere (slings and other carriers help).
Cluster feedings occur less often on artificial feeding, because the baby does not associate food with mother as closely as with natural feeding. Mom has other ways of interacting with her baby that compensate for communication during feeding. Feeding on such days usually takes place, but the baby spends more time in her arms, and the mother is more actively involved in his life and pays more attention to him.
It is impossible and unnecessary to feed the child chaotically all the time. When breastfeeding, it is important to take into account the needs of the baby and try to choose something between a regimen and its complete absence. Artificial feeding is easier - the ideal regimen depends on the frequency of feeding in accordance with the age and weight of the baby. When a child begins to ask for food every hour, the first thing to decide is whether he is hungry or has some other need. There are times when a baby needs a mother and he needs more communication, a change in position, a feeding place. This is the norm, not a disease that needs to be treated. Mom needs to carefully observe her baby, learn to feel his needs, and everything will be in order.
*The ideal food for a baby is mother's milk. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. MAMACO ® supports this recommendation. Before introducing new foods into your baby's diet, consult with a specialist.
* Breast milk is the best food for babies. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child's life and continued breastfeeding after complementary foods are introduced until the age of 2 years.