How Often and How Much Should You Feed Your Baby?
At first, your newborn drinks very little-perhaps an ounce or two at each feeding. But she wants to eat as often as every two or three hours. Within several weeks, however, her appetite increases. Though she eats more at each feeding, she gets full enough to allow you to space feedings further apart.
Whatever your baby doesn't finish, throw away. DO NOT store unfinished formula in the refrigerator. Your child's saliva, when mixed with the formula, can breed bacteria. Throw away the leftover contents of a bottle and rinse it out thoroughly soon after feeding. (The formula will curdle and begin to stink if it's left sitting too long.)
Babies change from day to day, and their appetite does too. As your child grows, pay attention to feeding trends and alter the amount of formula you put in bottles accordingly. At the same time, be flexible and alert enough to respond to shifts in your baby's appetite.
Avoid the temptation to overfeed your baby. Don't insist that she finish everything you have prepared in her bottle. If you feed her too much, she will either hurl or get fat. (Some studies do suggest that formula-fed children are more likely to be overweight than breast-fed children.) When your infant stops drinking and no longer appears interested in the bottle, stop feeding her. Try to burp her and perhaps switch her to the other arm. Then see if she wants to finish the feeding. If she doesn't, don't force the issue.
By the same token, if your baby finishes an entire bottle and still seems hungry, don't stop there. Give her another two to four ounces until she seems full and satisfied. If this becomes a routine practice, start to make more formula in each bottle.
Just as you will need to adapt to your baby's appetite, you will have to adjust to her changing schedule as well. Few babies stick to the clock, eating every four hours on the dot. Feeding schedules may change from day to day. So don't automatically feed your baby just because she hasn't eaten in four hours. Don't worry: She'll let you know when she's hungry.
DO NOT keep a thermos of warm formula or an open can of formula at room temperature. Both provide breeding grounds for bacteria.
There is one exception to the go-with-the-flow rule: Until your baby sleeps through the night, you might want to wake her up to feed her right before you go to bed. That way you might be able to get at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep before the next feeding. But except for this bedtime feeding, try to avoid feeding your child until she asks for it.
For nighttime feedings, keep your supplies and an unopened can of ready-to-eat formula next to your bed. (Remember, room temperature is fine for your baby's bottle.) Or keep the powder and a sealed thermos of warm water next to your bed so that you can mix up a bottle without getting out of bed.