How often should I feed my new-born baby?

New-borns lose weight in the days following birth—often 250 g…or a bit more!  No wonder they need to eat so often. Within a couple of days, most breastfed babies eat 10-12 times/day and formula-fed babies take 7-8 bottles/day. Your little one will tell you when she’s hungry by rooting (opening their mouth and turning towards anything that touches their cheeks), getting more active and cooing or fussing (that does not calm by SNOO or the 5 S’s).

Note: Some babies—especially those with jaundice—get extra sleepy and may skip feedings…and even get dehydrated. The signs of dehydration are a sticky tongue (not wet with lots of drool) and reduced urine that is dark yellow…or pink.

In general, it is best not to let your new baby sleep more than 4 hours at a time (day or night) to ensure they are eating enough…until they get back to their birth weight. (If she is difficult to rouse or refuses 2 feedings in a row, give your paediatrician a call.)

Once your baby is over their birth weight, peeing consistently, and growing well (this rarely takes more than 5-10 days)... You can let your baby sleep longer stretches. At this time, it’s a good idea to boost calories while the sun is up. During the day, Dr Karp suggests: 

  1. Try to awaken breastfeeding babies every 1.5-2 hours for a feed
  2. Alternate breasts while nursing (back and forth)—5-7 minutes on the first side, then switch to the other (Your health care provider may have his/her own preferred approach)
  3. Introduce a Dream or Cluster feed into your routine
  4. Formula-fed babies usually feed every 3-4 hours during the day and night for the first few weeks.


Happiest Baby does not provide medical advice. Please seek the advice of your healthcare provider if you have questions regarding a medical issue.

Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.

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