How much and how often to bottlefeed

Deciding how you’re going to feed your baby is a personal choice. When it comes to bottle feeding, there are a number of ways you might decide to do this. You can bottle feed alongside breastfeeding (also known as combi feeding), or exclusively bottle feed with either expressed breast milk or infant formula1.

If you decide that bottle feeding with infant formula is the right thing for you and your family, we’ve got lots of information that you might find useful when establishing and organising your baby’s feeding routine.

baby-formula-scoop

Get the scoop

As a parent, it’s not uncommon to have questions about your baby’s feeding routine, whether you’re feeding with breast milk or infant formula. For our purposes here, we’ll be providing general guidance on how much milk formula-fed babies need, and how often you can expect them to feed.

A guide to quantity and frequency of feeds

How much milk formula-fed babies need, and how often they’ll feed will depend on a number of factors, including how many months old they are. Establishing a feeding routine isn’t an exact science, and this can be especially true if your baby is a newborn and feeding on demand.

Newborn babies will only need small amounts of infant formula at each feed. As a general rule of thumb, by the end of their first week of life they’ll need approximately 150 - 200 ml of infant formula per kilogram of their body weight per day, until they reach six months old2. Anywhere between two weeks and six months old, you can expect your baby’s bottle feeding routine to consist of around five or six feeds a day.

Keep in mind that every baby is different, and they may differ in how often they want to feed and how much milk they take when they do2.

Feeding guide 0-12 months 

Below you’ll find our handy baby feeding chart. This will give you a general guide to the quantity and frequency of feeds your baby needs based on their age. However, as we’ve said above, every baby is different, and their appetites vary massively2. Your baby’s feeding habits may not match these guidelines exactly, and you may find that they need more or less than the amounts shown. 

Approx. ageApprox .weight
No. of level scoops per feed 
(1 scoop = 4.6g)
Quantity of water / feed
No. of feeds per 24 hours
 kglb ml  fl 
Up to 2 weeks3.57 3/439036
2-4 weeks3.98.5412045
4-8 weeks4.710.5515055
8-12 weeks5.412618065
3-4 months6.213 3/4618065
4-5 months6.915 1/4721075
5-6 months7.616 3/4721075
7-12 months--721073

Getting to know your baby’s feeding schedule

As your little one continues on their developmental journey, you’ll both be learning a lot as you get to know each other more every day.

When it comes to feeding, as long as your baby is feeding well, gaining weight, and having regular wet and dirty nappies2, they’re likely getting the amount they need. This applies whether your baby is being bottle-fed with infant formula or breast milk.

It’s completely normal for babies to want to feed little and often, so don’t worry if they finish all of the milk in their bottle and allow them to stop when they’re full3. Giving your baby more milk in one go doesn’t mean that they’ll be fuller for longer and could lead them to bring up more milk after a feed and to put on too much weight4.

If your baby was born prematurely, or was a low birth weight, their feeding requirements will be different. Your midwife and/or other health professional will be able to provide you with the advice and guidance you need about their feeding requirements and what to expect.

How to follow a bottle-feeding schedule

Whether your baby is breast or bottle fed, health professionals recommend that babies are fed on demand5. Most babies can start adapting to a feeding schedule, but how often they want to feed can vary5. This means looking out for feeding cues, and feeding your baby when they show signs that they’re hungry, which might include5:

  • Sucking their hands and fingers
  • Rooting for a bottle or teat
  • Becoming restless

You can find more information about recognising your baby’s feeding cues here.

The frequency of your baby’s bottle feeds will depend in part on how many months old they are. For example, newborn babies should be fed whenever they appear to be hungry, and in the first few days after birth, if your baby is infant formula-fed, they might feed as often as every 2-3 hours. During their first year, as they grow bigger, your baby may start to eat less frequently, requiring a bottle feed every 3-4 hours.

Whilst there’s no need for you to follow a particular feeding schedule, the majority of babies can, and will, settle into a feeding schedule as they grow. Once your baby is older, you may find that they can go for longer periods at night without a feed, and that their feeding schedule is more predictable and established.

How to time your baby’s feeds

Feeds can take as long as an hour, and you may find that your baby is feeding around six times per day. As your baby develops, they’ll become more efficient at feeding and as such their feeds will be quicker.

To measure the time between your baby’s feeds, start from the beginning of one feed until the beginning of the next. For example, if you begin feeding your baby at 11am, then you can probably expect them to be hungry again at about 2pm.

Important - feeding your baby safely

When feeding your baby with infant formula, it’s very important to follow the preparations provided on the pack exactly. To make sure that your baby’s milk is mixed to the right proportions, always use the scoop provided.

Never add extra powder to your baby’s feed as this can lead to conditions such as dehydration and constipation. You must also never add extra water to a feed, as this can result in your baby not receiving the nutrition that they need6. Read our guide to preparing a bottle-feed to find out more.

In addition, never leave your baby alone during feeding, and be sure to use the correct sized teat. That way you can be sure that your baby isn’t taking in their milk too quickly.

At how many months old should I start transitioning my baby onto solid foods? 

As you follow your baby’s development, you’ll get to see and experience them learn a number of exciting new skills. There’s a lot going on for your baby in their first year, rolling over and sitting up for example, and reaching out and grasping for various objects. Along with this increased skill set also comes a bigger appetite! And at this point, it might be time to introduce your baby to solid foods, also known as weaning  or complementary feeding.

Solid foods should be introduced into your baby’s diet gradually, alongside your baby’s usual milk feeds7. Weaning is usually done at around six months of age, as by that point, your baby will have increased nutritional needs, and they’ll be developmentally ready to cope with solid foods.

There are a number of signs to look out for that may indicate that your baby is ready for solid foods. These include7:

●      Sitting independently.

●      Holding their head still.

●      The ability to coordinate their hands, eyes and mouth.

●      Looking at and picking up food.

●      The ability to swallow.

You can learn more about the signs of weaning here.

When you first introduce your baby to solid foods, they’re likely to consume only a very small amount. At this stage, it’s all about letting your baby experiment with new tastes and textures, and milk will still constitute their main source of energy and nutrients for a while longer7. Gradually, the amount of variety of foods that your baby eats will increase.

Your baby's future health begins here

At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; and that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

mom and baby

Get in touch with our Careline experts

Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. Need instant assistance? Our WhatsApp Customer Support team is here to help on-the-go!

 
  1. NHS. Bottle feeding advice [online], 2021. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/advice/. [Accessed September 2023]
  2. NHS. Formula Milk: common questions [online] 2023. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/formula-milk-questions/
  3. NHS. Formula Milk: common questions [online] 2023. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/formula-milk-questions/. [Accessed September 2023]
  4. KidsHealth. Formula Feeding FAQs: How Much and How Often? [online] 2021. Available at https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/formulafeed-often.html. [Accessed September 2023]
  5. NHS. Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. Formula Feeding [online]. Available at https://www.mpft.nhs.uk/services/infant-feeding-support/formula-feeding. [Accessed September 2023]
  6. NHS. How to make up baby formula [online] 2023. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/bottle-feeding/making-up-baby-formula/. [Accessed September 2023]
  7. NHS. Your baby’s first solid foods [online] 2022. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/babys-first-solid-foods/. [Accessed September 2023]

Last reviewed: 28th July 2021
Reviewed by Oriana Hernandez Carrion

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