How much formula does my baby need?

As you await the arrival of your little one, there are plenty of things to thinks about - how you’ll choose to feed being one of them.

If you’ve decided that that formula feeding with infant formula (suitable for your baby’s first year up to 12 months) is the right thing for you and your baby, here you’ll find a wealth of information around how to make your feeding journey a success. We’ll also be answering any questions you might have, such as ‘how much milk should a newborn drink?’, and exploring hunger cues, how to spot the signs of overfeeding, and feeding through a growth spurt.

If you’re formula feeding your newborn, how often they’ll want to feed and the amount of formula they’ll need will vary from baby to baby. It will depend on several things, including their age, and whether you’ve decided to combination feed, offering breast feeds alongside bottles of infant formula.

For the purposes of this article, we’re exploring exclusively bottle feeding with infant formula, so if this is your feeding choice, you may find this article useful.

Let’s get started. 

How often should I feed my newborn baby?

There’s no way to pinpoint exactly how often your newborn will need to be fed, or the exact amount of infant formula they’ll need. This is particularly true if you have a newborn baby who is feeding on demand.

As a rule of thumb, you can expect that your newborn baby will want to feed every 2-3 hours, and because their tummy is still very tiny and unable to hold large amounts of milk, they’ll only require very small amounts of infant formula1. As your baby grows, they’ll be able to hold more milk at each feed. Soon enough, you may find that they start to settle into a regular feeding pattern, but this won’t be the same for each baby2.

Because newborn babies tend to feed little and often, the NHS advises that you follow your baby’s hunger cues and feed them on demand as opposed to following a set baby feeding chart or schedule3.

Feeding your baby more milk during a feed won’t mean that your baby will go for a longer period of time before their next feed, so don’t worry if your baby doesn’t finish all of the milk in the bottle, and never force them to do so2. This can result in your little one bringing their milk back up, and lead to overfeeding3. You could try the paced bottle-feeding technique, as this can help you to more effectively follow your baby’s lead and avoid overfeeding. You can learn more about paced feeding here.

How much milk your newborn will drink and how often will also change if2:

  • Your baby is going through a growth spurt.
  • They feel unwell.
  • Your baby is teething.

Additionally, you’ll be given specific feeding guidance from your healthcare provider if your baby was premature or a low birth weight. If you’ve got any concerns at all about how your baby is feeding, always speak to your doctor or midwife for advice.

When do I start timing feeds?

When your formula feeding your baby on demand, timing feeds can be tricky to work out. The important thing to remember is that feeding your baby (however, you choose to do it) is an opportunity for you to spend time together, be close, and bond4.

It’s not unusual for your baby’s feeds to take up to an hour, especially in those early days and weeks when you’re little one is getting the hang of things. You’ll also be spending some of this time winding your baby and changing their nappy if they need it.

Rest assured that with a little help, your baby will become more efficient when it comes to feeding which will result in them feeding more quickly.

As a general guide, baby’s feed is the time from the moment you start feeding to the beginning of their next feed.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?   

This is a common question for new parents. The good news is that there are several ways you can tell if your baby is getting the amount of formula that they need. Perhaps the most obvious being your baby’s weight.

Your baby will be weighed very soon after they’re born, and then again in their first week of life. After that, if your baby is healthy and gaining weight as they should, they’ll be weighed again at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. They’ll be weighed again at the end of their first year1. If you have any concerns at all about your baby’s weight gain, always speak to your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice.

Your baby’s nappies are also a good indicator that your baby is getting the right amount of infant formula. Keep an eye on the amount of wet and dirty nappies you’re required to change. On average, your baby should be producing around 6 wet nappies a day by the time they’re a few days old. They should feel heavy, and your little one’s urine should be pale or clear1.

In the first couple of days following your baby’s birth, they’ll pass a substance known as meconium, which is dark and quite sticky. In their first week, they’ll then start to have at least one poo a day (although again, remember that every baby is different), and these should be pale yellow or yellowish brown in colour1 - welcome to the joys of parenthood!

Our handy baby poo chart is a really useful tool to help you keep an eye on your baby’s toilet habits. 

How to know if I am overfeeding my baby?

There are a number of things to look out for if you’re worried about overfeeding your baby. For example5:

  • Your baby being sick and bringing up lots of milk.
  • Crying due to discomfort - overfeeding may lead to your baby experiencing stomach pains. 
  • Excessive weight gain - your baby’s body weight is generally a good indicator as to whether or not your baby is getting the right amount of milk. 
  • Your baby showing the signs of colic or reflux.

To avoid overfeeding your baby3:

  • Never force them to finish all of the infant formula in the bottle - always follow their lead and hunger cues. 
  • Let your baby take regular breaks from feeding and take time to wind and burp them when they do. 
  • Make sure that the bottle teats are the right size and flow for your baby. This will help to prevent them drinking too quickly and overfeeding. 
  • Follow their lead and use the paced feeding technique to allow your baby to let you know when they’re full.

How will I know if my formula-fed baby is hungry? 

However, your baby is fed, they won’t usually waste any time in telling when they’re hungry! If you’re in any doubt, look out for your little one giving you some of these common hunger cues6:

  • ‘Rooting’ for the teat of a bottle.
  • Looking for something to suck - this may be their fingers and hands.
  • Opening and closing their mouth. 
  • Becoming restless and wriggly, and moving their eyes around. 
  • Crying - a likely hunger cue if your baby hasn’t recently been fed.

It’s perfectly natural to worry about whether you’re feeding your baby enough, but once you get into a rhythm and become familiar with their feeding habits, you’ll both soon get the hang of it.

Why is my baby hungrier than usual?

As your baby gets bigger, so does their appetite. Sometimes, your baby will be hungrier than usual, and if that’s the case, it might all be down to a growth spurt. A growth spurt can result in your baby needing more infant formula than they normally would for a period of time. During their first year, your baby will have plenty of growth spurts, and they are in fact a good and reliable indicator that your baby is growing as they should.

Feeding your baby on demand can really help if your baby has a growth spurt and is hungrier than usual. Simply follow their lead, look out for those all-important hunger cues, and feed your baby as and when they want to be fed. 

Read more about hungry babies here.

How much formula milk does my weaning baby need?

Your baby’s first year is a very exciting one, and at around the age of six months, your baby will be ready for their first tastes of solid food. Welcome to weaning! Life with your baby is constantly changing. From questions like ‘how much milk should a newborn drink?’, it’s not long before you find yourself wondering how much infant formula your weaning baby will need.

You should introduce your baby to solid foods alongside their usual infant formula milk feeds at around 6 months7. Infant formula milk will remain the main source of the nutrients and energy that your baby needs for a while yet. At this stage, it’s all about experimenting with new textures and tastes. However, as your baby gets older, the more solid foods they’ll start to eat. In time, the amount of infant formula they’ll need will decrease, just continue to follow their lead and let this happen naturally.

Learn more about what to expect on your baby’s weaning journey here.  

  1. NHS. Formula Milk: common questions [online] 2023. Available at [Accessed January 2024]
  2. NHS 111 Wales. Pregnancy guide [online] 2021. Available at [Accessed January 2024]
  3. NHS. Bottle feeding advice [online] 2021. Available at,and%20can%20lead%20to%20overfeeding. [Accessed January 2024]
  4. NHS Start for Life. Bottle feeding your baby [online]. Available at [Accessed January 2024]
  5. NHS Inform. Feeding with infant formula [online] 2024. Available at,look%20like%20colic%20or%20reflux. [Accessed January 2024]
  6. NHS Start for Life. Feeding on demand [online]. Available at,move%20their%20eyes%20around. [Accessed Jnauary 2024]
  7. NHS. Your baby’s first solid foods [online] 2022. Available at [Accessed January 2024]

Last reviewed: January 2024
Reviewed by Nutricia’s Medical and Scientific Affairs Team

Need free advice with a smile? Get in touch with our dedicated Care team.

Ask us a question (8am - 8pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm Weekends)



Contact us on Facebook (10am - 10pm, 7 days a week)

Call us

Call us on 0800 977 8880 (8am - 8pm Monday to Friday)


Get answers to your most frequently asked questions