How Often Do Newborns Eat?

Newborn Needs

A newborn baby is as helpless as helpless can be. During those first critical three months of life, you’re the person who will clothe, feed, snuggle, and grow along with that child as they reach milestone after milestone in front of your very delighted face. New parents are some of the most joyful, and exhausted, human beings that exist, and new babies are fascinating in their own right. Since food is one of the essentials to sustain life among newborns, it’s natural that you’re wondering how often newborns eat. Your parenting instincts are already ringing out loud and strong. Pat yourself on the back.

Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, your baby is going to need something altogether precious to new life: Milk. That’s the life force of all newborns! You probably knew at least this much and you’ve stocked up on bottles and/or breast pumps. You’ve successfully completed the first parenting chore you’ll get to know more of over the coming months. Your newborn is home and everyday, that newborn is going to need to feed. To explore this subject, we’ll break it down into two parts: breastfeeding and bottle feeding.

How Often Do Newborns Eat

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll like want a breast pump to have fresh milk ready for your newborn at all times. And you better have that formula ready at all times because a hungry baby is a loud baby! Your precious newborn can turn extremely contrary in a mere moment if you fail to adhere to their one major complaint in life at this point: I’m hungry! When your newborn is hungry, they will most likely let you know in the loudest way possible. And parents, especially mothers, tend to be very in tune with their newborns (don’t worry if you’re not quite there yet!). Many new mothers are extremely exhausted from the birthing experience or may even have postpartem depression. You’re not alone if this is the case. Just get help because that newborn of yours is hungry. A lot.

How often newborns eat will vary a little bit by newborn. Some newborns are naturally hungry than others, and it’s nothing to worry about for parents. The first rule of how often do newborns eat is easy. Your baby needs to eat when they’re hungry. If they’re crying and take a bottle, they probably need to eat. On average, a newborn will feed every 3-4 hours. Just because this is the average doesn’t mean your baby is going to become hungry every 3-4 hours just like clockwork. If your baby isn’t letting you know he or she is hungry every 3-4 hours, though, you might decide to wake baby to feed (a tough one for parents). There’s something else called on demand feeding that means whenever your baby shows signs of being hungry, you give that little bundle of joy a bottle or breast.

Signs A Newborn Is Hungry

Beyond the question of how often newborns eat is the subject of how they act when they’re hungry. As a parent, you’ll soon learn to recognize all the signs that your baby is craving a bottle, and you’ll become very in tune to the process of feeding. It’ll be second nature. With newborns, though, you’re just getting to know their signs of hunger and habits, so don’t feel bad if you miss a cue or two. Many people don’t know how to tell if a baby is hungry. That’s perfectly okay. Just like your newborn is learning, you’re learning, too. Signs a newborn is hungry can include:

  • Opening mouth
  • Sticking out those adorable newborn tongues
  • Putting parts of hands in mouth
  • If the newborn’s head moves side to side as if looking for something
  • Crying (this one’s pretty obvious to recognize)

How often newborns eat will vary, but these signs are almost universally signs that a newborn wants to have a milk meal. How often newborns eat will also sometimes depend on how much they eat at each feeding. Just like you, your baby will sometimes have a quick snack and other times a full feeding. Knowing how much to feed your baby is as important as how often newborns eat. Newborns will consume a range of 1.5-3 ounces of milk at each feeding. If they eat a little less, don’t panic. And if they eat a little more, maybe they fell a bit short at each feeding. As a parent, you’ll learn how often newborns eat by observing how often your particular newborn eats. Some newborns eat every 2 hours! If you’ve got one of those, it can be challenging, but you’re going to be just fine.

Safe, Secure Feeding Habits

Feeding time is a special moment between mothers and babies. Daddies often enjoy the moment, too, and will take the time to bottle feed their children if the parents have decided on bottle feeding (some parents may even do a combination of both so that dad can share in the experience). Just as important as how often newborns eat is how the parents make the moment as secure as possible and a truly safe environment for the baby. This is the substance of life here. A newborn’s milk is going to make their minds and bodies grow healthy and strong over time, and you’re sharing that experience with your child in the most special way possible.

Bottle feeding vs breastfeeding proponents often argue back and forth, but the truth is that your child needs milk. What’s healthier could be debated on for eternity, but the important thing is that newborns grow up healthy and strong with both methods of feeding. Now that you know how often newborns eat, you have a better idea of how to successfully create a safe, secure environment for your newborn as they feed. Remember, too, that each feeding is a chance for you to hold and bond with your baby. You’re giving them the food they need to grow healthy and strong and doing it in the most intimate way. It’s your life and love spent giving them what they need to maintain their own life and love.

Conclusion

A final word about how often newborns eat is that you will notice your baby eats more as time goes along. They might start consuming more milk in the second month of life than the first and more in the third month of life than the second. That’s perfectly natural. As they grow healthier and bigger, babies are going to need more of that sweet, sweet milk you keep giving them, whether it’s from a bottle or a breast. If they seem to be eating more or more often, just know that it’s perfectly natural and you’re still doing your job as a parent. It’s all good and well, and there’s nothing wrong with your baby.

The only time you should consult a pediatrician is when you notice that your baby isn’t eating enough or seems to be constantly hungry and eating much more than normal. At this point you might want to have a conversation with your pediatrician and find out what the problem is. It could be something very simple that needs to be adjusted about feeding time or a health condition your pediatrician will need to address. Either way, you’re doing your job as a parent at each and every turn and deserve to have some praise. Good job!