21 answers

How Many Ounces per Feeding Does a 4 Month Old Need?

My son will be 4 months old on the 14th of this month. Up until a week ago, he was only getting breastmilk (nursing while with him and pumping at work and while away). However, he was seeming hungry all the time and I just couldn't keep up, so we started supplementing with formula last week. We have been feeding him about 5 ounces per bottle about every 2 hours or so. I am just wondering how many ounces per feeding is typical for this age??? I was thinking that if he ate more per feeding his feedings could be stretched out more? He does sleep through the night, typically 9-10 hour stretches, so maybe he is just catching up during the day. Or is this just a growth spurt?? Any information would be much appreciated because since most of the time has been nursing, I just dont know how much he needs.

Thanks!

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A., It sounds like you are doing great to me!!!! You have a happy boy who sleeps all night!! I think all kids are different, my middle one, also a boy came home from the hospital drinking 8 oz of formula...because I didn't make enough milk to keep him happy, but I also had that problem with my 1st one also. If you try to give him too much milk in the bottle, he won't drink it. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job...don't sweat the small stuff!!

Babies will eat when they are hungry!
my son would eat 8 + oz at a time at 6 weeks old, and the doctor told me not to feed him that much. I did what any new mom would do... i called my mother. on her advise i cut the hole in the nipple a bit and added rice cereal.
it worked for him. yes i know no solid food until they are older. every child is different, he just could not be sustained with formula, and it worked for him.

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He could eat 6-8 oz per feeding at this age. And in about a month you could start spoonfeeding formula and cereal really watered down for his late feeding. He should be able to go more than 2 hrs at a time between feedings. I would give four oz, get him to burb good, and then try to give 3 more oz. Then he should be able to go 3 or more hours before the next feeding. Breast feeding is every 2 hrs, but formula is harder to digest and usually takes longer before they are hungry again.

Babies will eat when they are hungry!
my son would eat 8 + oz at a time at 6 weeks old, and the doctor told me not to feed him that much. I did what any new mom would do... i called my mother. on her advise i cut the hole in the nipple a bit and added rice cereal.
it worked for him. yes i know no solid food until they are older. every child is different, he just could not be sustained with formula, and it worked for him.

A., It sounds like you are doing great to me!!!! You have a happy boy who sleeps all night!! I think all kids are different, my middle one, also a boy came home from the hospital drinking 8 oz of formula...because I didn't make enough milk to keep him happy, but I also had that problem with my 1st one also. If you try to give him too much milk in the bottle, he won't drink it. It sounds like you are doing an amazing job...don't sweat the small stuff!!

Sounds normal to me. My daughter ate 4-5 oz every 2-3 hours when she was 4 months old. She didn't start drinking more until about 6 months when she drank 6 oz every 3-4 hours.

The rule with babies is the same in every aspect of their lives: what they want=what they need. Give your baby as much as he wants to drink. He will be fine. Babies do not have the overeating instinct, unlike some adults--who tend to be overly stressed about their conditions and then overeat.

Hi A.,

I know there is a formula you can do to calculate an estimate of how many ounces your child needs, but I can't find it in my references right now. (where is my infant nutrition info when I need it?!?!)

I also know the calculation is based off of weight of the child, so the fact that he's 4 months old doesn't really matter. Again, the calculation is only an estimate, and individual children vary.

I think Jennifer S' response has it right or very close.

Good luck!

Maybe he's ready to start taking a little rice cereal, mixed with breastmilk. If you start giving him formula, your supply might diminish.

All babies are different. My youngest daughter started taking 6oz at the age of 6 weeks. But she still only takes 6oz today. Your baby is just fine.

Sleeping through the night... I should only be so lucky! I have a 4 month old and she likes to eat every two hours... even at night. She eats smaller amounts of food though at a time, for some reason we can not get her to eat more out of a bottle. I would say that you guys are doing great! Have you talked to your doctor about starting your child on cereal. I was surprised at this last visit that my doc suggested it.

My son turned 4 months on the 5th, and he drinks 6 oz of mixed breastmilk/formula every 3 hours/ 5x during the day and sleeps for 10 hours a night.

Is he finishing the bottle? If so I would definitely increase to 6 oz and see how he responds. This should allow for longer stretches in between feedings.

It is just a growth spurt. Trust me, it will take anywhere from two days to a week for your breast milk to catch up, but supplementing with formula will only decrease your milk supply. 5 ounces is probably about what he is getting from your breasts each feeding, but 5 ounces of formula is way more filling than 5 ounces of breast milk because formula is harder to digest. He will stop needing as much breast milk if you continue. If you are trying to ween him than this is okay, but if you plan to continue to breastfeed for most of his feedings, than I suggest you stop supplementing, or only give him an ounce or two AFTER breast feedings. Being that he is sleeping through the night he is not starving. My baby ate during the day about every hour to two hours and slept 9-12 hours through the night at that age. She was very hungry all the time but she grew out of it and now (at 6 months) she just eats solids and breastfeeds. She goes anywhere from 2-5 hours without eating. My advice would be to stick with just breastmilk until he starts eating solids. Stop the formula slowly this week and then your breastmilk will automatically increase to his needs. If you need extra help with supply you can try letting him suck as long as he wants, pumping for 5-10 minutes after each feeding and giving him those bottles instead, and taking Fenugreek supplements (2-5 tablets 2-3 times per day). All these measures will help you to feed your little baby without using formula. I know it is hard with work, but another thing that could help is to pump 5 minutes at work after the last drops of milk. I hope this helps, sorry if it sounds to lecture-like, but the thought of losing my milk at 4 months made me really sad so I just don't want you to have to go through it before it is necessary.

its probably a growth spurt. im still breastfeeding my 19 month old son, and sometimes during that first year, i think sometimes i was nursing him every 15 minutes!

i want to say on a side note that breastmilk is made on supply and demand, the more baby nurses, the more you make... so you dont have to suppliment with any formula, but for lots of moms it is easier.

telling you how many ounces he should have is hard because it depends on the child, their size, whether they are in a growth spurt... etc.. the list goes on. just nurse/feed him until he stops eating. you shouldnt worry about the exact amount unless he has trouble gaining weight (which usually isnt a problem either really.... sometimes they stop gaining weight while they arent in a growth spurt..)

dont stress about it. he will eat when hes hungry, as long as you or someone feeds him at that time, he shouldnt have a problem determining when hes hungry and full.

the problem with appointing an ounce amount is that moms will then sometimes feel obligated to make sure baby has that amount and they will sometimes overfeed baby... causing that little signal that tells baby he or she is full to stop working. you want that to be working, so just feed until baby stops eating, and he will tell you when hes hungry again.

during the first year baby will double his length and triple his weight - so thats a LOT of growing.... it will literally feel, or actually be, every 15 minutes between eating during some days LOL. so just have patience, and dont worry so much about a specific amount as you should worry about making sure you are just responding to your son and feeding him when hes hungry, and dont pressure him to finish a bottle or anything.

i really want to support your breastfeeding efforts. if you feel like you are having some trouble, look for the local le leche league in your area... they will be able to help you a LOT with all the different aspects of feeding. i dont want to make you feel bad about supplimenting, but unless there is weight gain problems, or other health issues, you shuold have enough milk, as long as you have the demand, you will have a supply. but, like i said, some moms find it easier to have a bit of formula involved.

if you are interested in my story, my son was totally breastfed, and even though i tried pumping and bottles, my son didnt have any interest in it. i now have a few bags frozen in the freezer, and they work GREAT for healing cuts, scrapes, etc.. literally it took 2 days for a skinned knee to heal, no scab involved! it was fantastic!
anyway, i have had a wonderful experience and i would like to support other moms who wish to continue breastfeeding ... so just send me a note if you want!

anyway, www.askdrsears.com has great info.
www.llli.org is le leche league

I recently talked to a lacation consultant about this! She told me to take my daughter's weight times 2.5 and that is the total she "should" drinking in a day. Then divide that number by the number of feedings per day. That should give you an idea of how much he should have at each feeding. I would think based on that, you are right about him eating more during the day to make up for sleeping for such a long time (lucky you!). That is based on breastmilk, I don't know if formula is different. As for amount to eat at that age, I think it depends on each baby. My daughter is the same age (on the 10th) and she takes 2-3 oz about every 2 hours while I am at work, and bfeeds about every 2 hours when we are together. I hope this helps!

Sounds like you're doing things right to me! When my son was 3.5 months old he suddenly decided to eat like a horse during the day. It concerned me until he simultaneously started sleeping 9-12 hours at night. So he's probably just trying to take in 24 hours worth of food during the day.

As long as he's eating, feed him. If he's happy, gaining weight appropriately, and healthy then that's the right amount to feed him.

L.

A., there is no set standard, but each kid will eat differently than any other, if he is happy , why worry about it, if you feel he is unsatisfied when that bottle is empty , then he wants more, if he is satisfied , then he had enough, he will take what is enough for him, if you give him too much, he wont drink it all, he is content and sleeping through the night,sounds like you got it made, enjoy your son, and dont fret the little stuff, if you feel he needs more, by all means give him more, giving him more may or may not stretch out his sleeping, or awake time, some kids its trial and error, its ok, to test it out, but if he is happy, why fuss with it, just trust your instincts, im sure they are fine, enjoy your life with your little one, D. s

I think each baby is different. there isn't really a "right" amount. when my youngest son was born he started out eating 4 oz every 4 hours. by 3 months he was eating 6oz every 3-4 hours (including the night). plus cereal 2x a day. his growth has been the same since he was born, he isn't over weight at all. the little one i babysit for now is 4 months and he will eat 4oz every 2-3 hours, he doesn't want anymore to make it 4 hours. i think they know what their little bellies can hold and that they will let you know if they are getting enough or not... by crying for more or spitting the bottle out when they are full.

The amount depends on your baby's needs. Don't try to get him to drink more if he is satisfied. You will only cause him to spit up. This could also be teaching him to over eat.

Limit the formula as much as possible, if you plan to keep breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand. Every ounce of formula you give is one less ounce of milk you will produce. I have known dozens of parents who thought they "weren't making enough" and started formula. In a couple months they weren't nursing at all because they "could never make enough". The truth is if they would have just followed baby's cues, they would have been fine. As long as baby is has at least 6 wet diapers and gaining weight, you are making enough milk.

Why not feed him until he is full?

My son only breast fed, sooooo... I really don't know how much he ate. We just kinda had a schedule and I fed him until he was full or I ran out. I'm a believer in at-will feeding. Baby will know when he is full.

9-10 hours a night?????? You have NO idea how lucky you are!!!!
Deb.

At 4 months, my son was taking about 5-6 oz every 2-4 hours. He is now 9 months, and we are down to 4 - 6oz bottles a day becuase he loves his solid food. In my opinion, I don't think you can overfeed them bottles - he will let you know if he's had too much by stopping. Try mixing up 6 oz and see what happens. Maybe you can at least get 3 hours between feedings. Since he is sleeping so well at night, it also makes sense that he is stocking up during the day. Enjoy! Those days go fast, in a few months it's cereal and veggies - and the mess! :)

Kids are all so different! Being that he is sleeping so well at night, I think you are doing great! He probably is catching up during the day. Generally you just need to follow his lead with eating. They are not like most of us. They'll take what feels right and know when they need more (unless they have some disorder.) It sounds like perhaps he is a good candidate to start cereal sooner versus later. Talk to the doctor, but usually they say they can start at 4 months. We started at about 4.5 months with my son, and although he did not really get a lot in at first, it was fun for both of us:)

5 oz is a good meal and the frequency sounds reasonable. Some babies will take more, some less. Unless he is losing weight, don't worry! You can't make them eat more, and they are miserable if they don't get enough. They will eat more and/or more frequently during a growth spurt, but not always. Just when you think you have their routine down, it will change! My best advice is not to worry, unless the doctor is. Feeding/eating stress justs increases as they get older! Have fun.

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