Babies like to screw with their parents by vacillating between ravenous beast and picky food critic on a new diet. Their cues are not always straight-forward, making it hard to know if they're hungry or just cranky. But, how often do formula-fed babies eat? Is it pretty much the same across the board, or are all babies vastly different from one another?
I remember when my son hit his first real growth spurt. That kid ate around the clock for days, and I thought I was doing something terribly, terribly wrong. I called his pediatrician, crying — of course. Thanks, hormones. Our pediatrician was so calm and gentle talking to someone who clearly was an inch away from running away with the circus. She assured me that this was normal and that all babies do it. In my mind, she was absolutely wrong, in spite of her years of medical training, experience, and uninterrupted sleep. "No, really, Doctor. This can't be normal. I'm fairly certain he's part elephant."
Again, apparently not part elephant, just normal growing baby. (Although, at 9 years old, I am beginning to consider the elephant thing again. I mean, where did he put all those hot wings? Hollow leg? His pockets?)
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), formula-fed babies eat slightly less often than their breastfed counterparts. In the first few weeks of life, they'll take 2 or 3 ounces of formula every three to four hours. The AAP cautioned to not let your baby sleep longer than five hours between feedings in the first month of life and, instead, wake your baby after the first five hours to offer them a bottle. (If my son would've slept five hours straight in a night, I think someone would've needed to wake me up from my dead faint.)
The AAP noted that after the first month, your baby will likely eat at the same pace, but increasing the amount to approximately 4 ounces per serving. According to Johns Hopkins, this will increase to 5 to 6 ounces by 2 months, decreasing in frequency to five to six times per day. Between the third and the fifth month, your baby will be drinking 6 to 7 ounces of formula, five to six times per day, according to Johns Hopkins.
The AAP also recommended babies eat around 2.5 ounces of formula for every 1 pound of weight per day. This assures a solid growth pattern without risking overfeeding your baby. But it's important to note that the APP doesn't consider this a rigid schedule — just a guideline. Follow your baby's cues and they'll let you know when they're hungry.
And do watch out for those growth spurts — they may make you feel as though your child is consuming enough food for three linebackers, but apparently, growing is hard work. If you're really concerned, though, definitely call your pediatrician.