Baby Feeding Schedule: A Guide For Your Infant's First Year
As a new mom, properly nourishing your newborn is one of your top priorities. A baby feeding schedule will help you ensure your little one gets the nutrients they need for their growth and development.
A newborn’s diet should primarily consist of breast milk or formula. But, as they grow, introducing solid foods into their diet becomes important. Below, we'll share guidelines for feeding at different ages and stages so you can confidently nourish your baby.
Table Of Contents
- Signs Of Hunger
- How Often Should Your Baby Eat?
- Sample Baby Feeding Schedule At Different Ages
- Baby Feeding Tips
Signs Of Hunger
While it’s nice to have a general idea of how often your baby should eat, your primary goal should be feeding them when they’re hungry.
But how do you know whether they’re ready to eat or just fussing? Here are some hunger signs to watch for:
- Stretching, yawning, and rooting (turning their head in search of food)
- Opening their mouth when you touch their cheek
- Making sucking motions
- Crying or fussing
If you notice these signs and it’s been a little while since your baby last ate, chances are good that they’re hungry.
How Often Should Your Baby Eat?
At first, it may seem like all your baby wants to do is eat. Their stomach is tiny, so they must eat frequently to take in enough milk or formula for their caloric needs.
In general, here’s what you can expect in terms of feeding frequency for each 24-hour period:
- 0-3 Months: 8-12 feedings
- 3-6 Months: 6-8 feedings
- 6-9 Months: 5-7 feedings
- 9-12 Months: 4-5 feedings
Of course, every baby is different. Some may need to eat more or less often than the guidelines above. For example, if you’re breastfeeding, your baby must eat more frequently since breast milk digests faster than formula. Also, nursing often helps build your milk supply.
Be sure to follow your baby’s hunger cues and trust your instincts. If they seem hungry outside their regular feeding schedule, offer them a breast or bottle.
Sample Baby Feeding Schedule At Different Ages
Now that you know the general guidelines, let’s look at some sample baby feeding schedules for babies of different ages. These can give you a better idea of what your days might look like.
Newborn babies are trying to get the hang of this feeding thing. Before birth, the umbilical cord gave them all the nutrition they needed, so it’s a big transition for them!
It’s best to feed on demand at this age and not try to stick to a schedule. You’ll want to offer breast or bottle every two to four hours, around the clock. This means you may need to wake them up to get them to eat.
Each feeding session should last 20-45 minutes if breastfeeding. For formula-fed babies, plan on them eating between 2 to 3 ounces per feed. However, ask your doctor if that’s the right amount for your little one.
By now, your baby should have a better handle on feeding. They’ll be more efficient at sucking and taking in milk, so you should see fewer feedings of larger volumes. Each time your baby eats, they’ll consume between 4 to 5 ounces.
At three or four months, your baby may sleep through the night. But if they’re not yet there, don’t panic. They may still need that boost of food to help them get through the night and stay full until morning.
Sticking to a more consistent feeding schedule can help them get enough nutrients during the day. For instance, you could try offering a breast or bottle at the following times:
- 7:00 a.m.
- 10:30 a.m.
- 1:30 p.m.
- 5:00 p.m.
- 8:00 p.m.
- 11:30 p.m.
- 3:00 a.m. (If your baby still wakes)
Additionally, as they grow, their stomach does as well. It’s now the size of their fist and can hold more milk these days. During each feed, they’ll consume about 6 ounces of milk.
To keep a consistent baby feeding schedule, try this schedule for offering a bottle or breast:
7:00 a.m.: First feeding
11:00 a.m.: Morning snack
2:30 p.m.: Lunchtime
6:30 p.m.: Dinner
10:00 p.m.: Bedtime snack
3:00 a.m.: If needed
Of course, remember to feed on demand if your little one is hungry between these times.
Once your baby is sitting up without support, has reached at least six months of age, and is interested in food, you can begin incorporating solid foods into their feeding schedule. Many parents prefer baby-led weaning, eliminating the need for purees.
But no matter your feeding style, milk will still be their primary food source until they turn one. So continue to give them 6 to 8 ounces of formula or breastmilk at each meal.
After they’ve drunk their milk, provide them with some additional baby-friendly food. But remember to introduce only one new food at a time so that you can watch for allergies.
Try a feeding schedule like this:
- 8 a.m.: Wake up and drink milk, then solids
- 12 p.m.: Lunch with milk, then solids
- 4 p.m.: Afternoon snack of milk
- 7:30 p.m.: Dinner time with milk, solids
- 10 p.m.: Bedtime snack of milk
At this age, about two-thirds of all babies are sleeping through the night. If yours isn’t yet, just offer them formula or breast milk when they wake. They don’t need any solids in the middle of the night.
By now, your baby should be getting pretty good at eating solid foods. They’re likely ready for chunkier textures and may be interested in self-feeding.
Babies at this age still need 24-32 ounces of milk daily. You can break that up into the day’s main meals and then offer two smaller snacks without milk if you’d like. If breastfeeding, you’ll likely nurse your baby for 5-10 minutes per side.
Here’s a sample schedule:
- 7 a.m.: Breakfast (milk and solids)
- 10 a.m.: Mid-morning snack (solids)
- 1 p.m.: Lunch (milk and solids)
- 4 p.m.: Afternoon snack (solids)
- 7:30 p.m.: Dinner (milk and solids)
- 10:00 p.m.: Final nursing or bottle feed before bed
As your baby gets closer to their birthday, many begin to prefer solids. However, milk is still important, so don’t skip it or transition to cow’s milk before they turn one.
Baby Feeding Tips
Now that you have a better idea of how much your little one should be consuming, here are some feeding tips to help each meal go more smoothly.
- Minimize distractions: Some babies have trouble eating when there’s so much to see. Find a quiet location to help them settle down and eat.
- Burp after each feed: Burping helps release trapped air bubbles, so remember to burp your little one.
- Keep Cleansing Wipes on hand: Introducing solids can be messy. These wipes can help keep your baby clean.
- Track their output: Ensure your baby has plenty of wet and dirty diapers.
- Stick to breast milk or formula: This should be their primary food and drink before they turn one, so skip the water and juice.
- Wash your baby’s hands: Help them practice washing their hands before they eat solids. Our No Rinse Cleansing Water makes it simple.
- Watch for growth spurts: If your baby is extra hungry and fussy, they may be getting ready to grow and want more food.
- Talk to your doctor about your child’s nutritional needs: Your baby is one-of-a-kind and may have unique feeding requirements. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations to help keep your baby healthy.
Feed Your Baby With Confidence
A baby feeding schedule is an excellent tool for new parents to help track your little one’s intake. However, don’t let the plan be your dictator. Be flexible. Your baby may need to feed more often, especially when they’re growing. So keep your eyes peeled for hunger cues.
And as your baby grows and starts eating solids, stock up on Cleansing Wipes and No Rinse Cleansing Water from Mustela. Then clean-up will be a breeze, and you can move on to the next task on your busy schedule!