How often should I feed my newborn baby?

Newborns lose weight in the days following birth—often ½ pound…or a bit more!  No wonder they need to eat so often. Within a couple of days, most breastfed babies eat 10-12 times/day and formula fed babies take 7-8 bottles/day. Your little one will tell you when she’s hungry by rooting (opening her mouth and turning towards anything that touches her cheeks), getting more active and cooing or fussing (that doesn’t calm by SNOO or the 5 S’s).

Note: Some babies—especially those with jaundice—get extra sleepy and may skip feedings…and even get dehydrated. The signs of dehydration are a sticky tongue (not wet with lots of drool) and reduced urine that is dark yellow…or pink.

In general, it’s best not to let your new baby sleep more than 4 hours at a time (day or night) to ensure she’s eating enough…until she gets back to her birth weight. (If she is pretty hard to rouse or refuses 2 feedings in a row, give your doctor a call.)

Once your baby is over her birth weight and peeing and growing well (this rarely takes more than 5-10 days), you can let your baby sleep longer stretches. At this time, it’s a good idea to boost calories while the sun is up. During the day, Dr. Karp suggests trying to wake breastfeeding babies every 1.5-2 hours for a feed. Most babies do best when moms alternate breasts while nursing (back and forth)—5-7 minutes on the first side, then switch to the other and stay there or come back for one more time on the first. But, your health care provider may have his/her own preferred approach.

Formula-fed babies usually feed every 3-4 hours during the day and night for the first few weeks.

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