The Ultimate Guide: How Often To Feed Infants
The burning question of how often to feed infants is a common worry for MANY parents, including myself.
As I write this post, both of my twin girls are 4 months “corrected” (as they were born 3 months premature). They are currently being seen by numerous specialists for preemie-related things, one being a nutritionist to monitor their growth and weight gain.
With that said, I want to pass along the helpful information I’ve been taught on how often to feed an infant (which is the exact method I use to feed both of my girls). As well as infant feeding tips to help your little one grow and gain weight (if this is a concern) AND what a typical feeding schedule looks like for 0-3 months and 4-6 months.
So let’s get to it!
First, The Burning Question…How Often To Feed Infants?
Infants, who are typically under one year of age, require frequent feedings to ensure they have adequate nutrient intake.
Generally speaking, a newborn needs to be fed every two to three hours during the day and one to two times during the night (which means they require 8-12 daily feeds)! You might start with 2-ounce feedings and slowly work your way up to 4 ounces over the first couple of months.
As your baby grows, their stomach capacity increases so you can gradually increase the time (and amount) between feeds and by 4 months of age you may have reduced the number of feeds per day to 6-7. Right now, at 4 months “corrected”, my girls are eating every 2-3 hours and doing one feed at night (averaging 6-7 feeds a day).
Then as they get older, their eating habits change as they begin to transition to solid foods. You’ll find yourself having to feed them less and less until they reach 6 months of age. At that time, it’s recommended to begin offering solid foods along with breastmilk or formula.
A good rule of thumb is to follow your sweet pea’s hunger cues and feed when they are fussy or making suckling motions with their mouth as these are signs that they are ready to feed. Speaking of hunger cues, let’s cover some important cues to be on the lookout for.
Newborn Hunger Cues
Hunger cues for your little one may vary, but some typical ones to look out for include:
- Lip smacking
- Turning their head from side to side or toward your chest
- Closing and licking the lips
- Putting hands to the mouth or cheek
- Rooting on your chest
Pay attention to hunger cues and respond with a feed to ensure your baby’s hunger and growth needs are continuously being met. If you’re concerned about growth, I want to touch on what we are doing to help our girls gain weight.
Always seek the advice of your pediatrician or healthcare professional if you’re concerned or have questions. What I share is for informational purposes only.
3 Tips For Infant Gain Weight
I’m going to share with you what we’ve done or are currently doing to help our girls gain weight throughout infancy.
1. Breastmilk and Formula Mixed Together
While our girls were in the NICU, I pumped to provide my milk because of all the amazing benefits it provides. If you can’t breastfeed or pump OR choose not to, no worries at all! There are a TON of nutrients in baby formula. A fed baby is a happy baby and that’s what’s important!
Since breastmilk is low in calories, the hospital would add formula to my milk to boost my girl’s caloric intake.
To be honest, I’m not sure exactly how much breastmilk to formula the hospital whipped up because it was always changing.
I do know this…when my girls were discharged home I would do 50/50 when I made their bottles (half breastmilk to half formula). Then, to really stretch out my breastmilk (since it was super tough pumping for two), I would do 75/25 (mostly formula to about 25% breastmilk).
Eventually, after a couple of weeks of trying to pump for two babies, I made the choice to switch to formula completely. I was not able to breastfeed because I had thrush which is another story for another time. If you’re suffering from this awful fungal infection on your breasts, I feel YOU. I wrote a separate post about that here on how I banished it for good!
2. Formula Alone
The formula I use for our girls is Enfamil NeuroPro Infacare. This formula helps a preemie gain weight. They used to be on Similac NeoSure BUT it really messed up their stomachs, causing big spit-ups (more like projectile vomiting ugh).
I was told by the nursing staff when our twins were in the NICU that Enfamil formula is broken down more than Similac so it’s gentler on the stomach.
We ended up switching from Similac to Enfamil in the NICU and have continued it at home. So far so good (knock on wood).
IF you’re trying to find a formula that works for your babe let me share this…
With my oldest son, I trialed 4-5 different brands before finding one that worked for him. He was colicky and had bad stomach issues. Again, Enfamil ended up being my go-to which worked wonders for him. He was on the Enfamil Rice base formula (that was in a pink can). You find this online at Walmart (or maybe in the store). Unfortunately, I could not find this on Amazon. Normally, I’m an Amazon junkie ordering everything I can to my house!
3. MCT Oil
As I write this, our girl’s weight gain is a slow roll, so to boost their calories EVEN more we add MCT oil to their bottles. This was prescribed by their doctor. We pay out-of-pocket around $18 per bottle for each girl. One bottle lasts about 30 days.
MCT (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) is naturally found in foods like coconut and palm oils.
MCT oil can be added to a bottle before feeding to provide additional energy for your little one’s developing body. Not only is MCT oil easy to use, but it also provides essential vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy development and growth.
Currently, we do 1ML of MCT oil up to 6 times per day in each of their bottles.
Now that you have the low down on what we do to boost our baby’s weight and growth, let’s dive into the ever-so-popular subject…how often to feed infants.
Infant Feeding Schedule
This is what a typical day looks like at 0 to 3 months for feeds.
On average, we fed our girls based on hunger cues. They ate on average 10 times per day. Sometimes a little less (around 8 or 9 times) OR sometimes more (around 12 times). Give or take, expect your sweet pea to eat around 8 to 12 times per day.
- 3:00AM – Feed
- 6:00AM – Feed
- 8:00AM – Feed
- 10:00AM – Feed
- 12:00PM – Feed
- 2:00PM – Feed
- 4:00PM – Feed
- 7:00PM – Feed
- 9:00PM – Feed
- 11:00PM – Dream Feed
This is what a typical day looks like at 4 to 6 months for feeds.
Again, we feed based on hunger cues. Right now our girls eat around 6 to 7 times per day. Expect a baby this age to eat less frequently but in more volume around 6 to 8 times per day.
- 4:00AM – Feed
- 8:00AM – Feed
- 11:00AM – Feed
- 2:00PM – Feed
- 5:00PM – Feed
- 8:00PM – Feed
- 11:00PM – Dream Feed
To Wrap It Up
I hope this post was helpful in some way regarding the burning question of how often to feed infants. Please remember that EVERY baby is different and will progress at their own pace.
Also, be sure to talk with your child’s pediatrician if you have ANY concerns whatsoever about nutrition or weight gain (or lack thereof).
Lastly, enjoy these early months because they go by so quickly!
Until the next post, I’m sending you all the positive parenting vibes!
How often do you feed your infant? Do you have any tips to add or share? Let me know in the comments below because your input helps others who read this post. As parents, we could all use a little help along the way!
You made my day being here today, thank you!
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About The Author
Linds is the proud mom of two little miracles, Mono Mono twin girls, and one AMAZING older bro! She is the founder and content creator of the blog Mono Mono Twins, the blog Intensive Therapy for Kids, and Co-Founder of The LENN Foundation (a 510c3 that helps children with cerebral palsy receive grants for intensive therapies to thrive). ♥
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