How much formula does your baby need?


I remember bringing my baby home after her birth and although I initially did breast feed for the first few weeks I felt my baby was just not happy and needed something extra to settle her. So I used to give a bit of boob and then supplement with formula, until we moved completely over to formula.

Baby Yum YumI made the choice of introducing formula for the well being of my baby and was not prepared to allow society to dictate what they thought was best for my baby and best for my well being…(but that is another blog for another day).

At that stage (the early days) it was very overwhelming being a new mommy, so under the guidance of my mother, I sent my husband out to the stores to buy infant formula. After 2 hours of him being out, he returned home with not 2 or 3 different types of formula, but rather 8 different kinds

I made the bottle according to instructions and fed my gorgeous, now famished, little one – she took about 5ml and continued to scream for a good 20 minutes until she fell asleep. Why did she not drink more? Was she still hungry? Then I started stressing about how much she should have…she was so little…I wanted to make sure she got enough. I rushed around exhausted trying to find the baby book I know I put somewhere and finally when I couldn’t find it, phoned my sister and mother crying hysterically!

I learnt an important lesson:

Don’t panic. It took me a long time but, I soon realised that my baby regulated her intake from day to day to meet her own specific needs. Instead of going by fixed amounts and what friends said I should be feeding her, I learnt to relax and just let her tell me when she had had enough. I also realised that when she became fidgety or easily distracted during a feeding, she was finished. Sometimes she would guzzle the bottle but still continued to smack her lips and I quickly realised she was still be hungry. “As long as she is content and thriving” is what my midwife and paed kept on telling me.
The most important thing to remember, whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed, is that your baby’s feeding needs are unique. No book or formula tin can tell you precisely how much or how often he/she needs to be fed or exactly how you should handle your baby during feedings. You will discover these things for yourself as you and your baby get to know each other.

After I got over my initial stress I did a bit of digging and found the following:
If you are formula feeding, your little one will usually take from 15–30 ml of formula per feeding and will eat every three to four hours on average during the first few weeks. Breastfed infants usually take smaller, more frequent feedings than formula-fed infants so don’t panic when they stop or fall asleep.

Some people say that between four and six months of age, and if your baby is formula-fed she will no longer need a middle-of-the night feeding, but to be honest my baby who is now 19 months still does not sleep through and wakes up for a bottle in the night – so don’t stress if your baby doesn’t sleep through . Although after about 8 months your babies stomach capacity has increased , which means she may go longer between daytime feedings—occasionally up to four or five hours at a time.

If you are worried that your baby still seems to feed very frequently or consume larger amounts and is not putting on any weight then, look at the situation on merit and a trip to the midwife/paed may be a good idea. Sometimes babies just want to feed not because they are hungry but because they just want the opportunity to be – what I call- “nunued” or comforted/embraced by you. There is nothing wrong with this.

There is a formula that I came across to use as a guideline from the Baby Sense Book by Anne Richardson and Megan Faure (Brilliant book ) : 150mls of milk per kilogram of baby’s body weight divided by the number of feeds you are giving in 24 hours. Here is the example from the book if your baby is 5kgs and you feed him 6 times in 24 hours –
5 x 150= 750mls divided by 6= 125mls per feed.

A final note: Stop Stressing!

Take what all the other mommies say with a pinch of salt! Don’t get so caught up in what you think you should be doing, that you miss the opportunity to savour the moments with this little life that grows so fast and will tell you what they need.

The way you feed your baby through its first year teaches him/her some important lessons. Your child learns to trust those who provide the comfort and security of food, which will help in forming a tight bond with you. Feeding times should be relaxing, comforting, and enjoyable for both you and your baby. They give the most opportunities to show your love and to get to know each other. Before the fourth month, milk – whether it is breast milk or infant formula – is the only food that your baby needs to grow healthy.

Feeding should be a calm, smooth, uninterrupted process. It shouldn’t hurt nor be a pain in the neck. If you are calm and happy, your infant will respond in kind. If you are nervous or uninterested, he/she may pick up these negative feelings and a feeding problem can result.

I always say that I feel completely honoured that I am called for in the middle of the night and that I am able to give such pleasure, comfort and sustenance to a little life that is so dependant on me. As hard as it is to do at times don’t begrudge this time, rather savour it.


Disclaimer: This post is based on personal experience and personal brand preference of the content author and has in no way been paid for or sponsored. BabyYumYum reserves the right to its opinions and fully supports the notion of promotion that breast is best in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) infant feeding guidelines Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not applied, an infant formula may be used according to health professionals’ advice. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.


  1. Thank you for the advice, since i was worried my nunuberry cn only take 2×180ml during the day 1 × 180ml at night of fomular milk. Please advice me if this is enough.

    • Hi Mpho, it really all depends on various factors such as how old is your baby, what is their current weight, what was the birth weight and if your baby is generally a hungry baby or not?

    • Hi Elsie.
      If your baby presents no problems and is thriving then you can make use of any of the starter formulas. Based on personal experience and clinical trials, I always like to work with the Novalac range of products, however, it is obviously your personal preference.


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