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How Often to Feed a Baby

At first, feed your newborn when he or she seems hungry (feed on demand). It is hard to overfeed a young baby. Babies show that they are hungry by crying and/or sucking on their fists or other objects. If your young baby has eaten within the hour and is crying, he or she may be crying because of something else, such as needing a diaper change or feeling uncomfortable with the room temperature. For more information about crying, see the topic Crying, Age 3 and Younger.

The length of time between feedings varies depending on the amount of formula the baby drank during the previous feeding. Most 2-week-old babies drink about every 2 hours. Older babies may wait as long as 8 hours before wanting to be fed again. Babies who wait longer between feedings usually drink more formula at each feeding. Babies typically eat more just before and during a growth spurt.

As you get to know your baby, you will be able to recognize his or her true signs of hunger and fullness. After your baby is 4 to 8 weeks old, you probably will have a general feeding schedule based on his or her nutritional needs that also comfortably fits your lifestyle.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised June 3, 2013

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