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Overfeeding a Baby

Topic Overview

Overfeeding a baby often causes the baby discomfort because he or she can't digest all of the breast milk or formula properly. When fed too much, a baby may also swallow air, which can produce gas, increase discomfort in the belly, and lead to crying. An overfed baby also may spit up more than usual and have loose stools. Although crying from discomfort is not colic, it can make crying more frequent and more intense in an already colicky baby.

Babies give cues during feeding that indicate how hungry they are. Pay attention to these cues to help determine when your baby has had enough to eat.

  • A baby who is hungry will latch on to the breast or bottle and suck continuously.
  • A baby who is getting full during a feeding will take longer pauses between sucking.
  • A baby who is full will turn away from the breast or bottle and not want to suck.

The amount of food each baby needs varies. Young babies usually do not take more breast milk or formula than they need. In general, your baby should seem healthy and happy and have good muscle tone, healthy skin, and good color.

The following table gives the number of ounces that a baby needs to take with each feeding according to his or her weight. Remember that this is only an average and that every baby is different. Call your doctor if you have any concerns.

Average feeding amounts by baby's weight
Weight in pounds Ounces per feeding

6 to 8 pounds (2.5 to 3.5 kg)

2 to 3 ounces (60 to 90 mL)

8 to 10 pounds (3.5 to 4.5 kg)

3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 mL)

10 to 12 pounds (4.5 to 5 kg)

4 to 6 ounces (120 to 180 mL)

12 to 16 pounds (5 to 7 kg)

6 to 8 ounces (180 to 240 mL)

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised February 25, 2013

Last Revised: February 25, 2013

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