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How Much Milk Should Babies Eat at Night?

by Eliza Martinez, studioD

There's no getting around the fact that babies need to eat all day and all night, which means you'll be up feeding your little one in the wee hours quite often. While all babies are different and need varying amounts of milk during the night, general recommendations about how often to feed them and how much they need to eat can help you ensure that your baby is getting enough. If you are concerned about your baby's growth or feeding habits, talk to his pediatrician.

Breast Versus Bottle

Breast milk works through your baby's digestive tract faster than formula, so if you're nursing, your little one will need more milk during the night than if she drinks from a bottle. Newborns typically nurse every 1 1/2 to 3 hours, while formula-fed babies might go a bit longer between meals. If your little one is waking up to eat every couple of hours, she's likely getting as much milk as she needs. Bottle-fed babies generally start out needing about 2 ounces per feeding and progress to 6 to 8 ounces as they get older. Breastfeeding babies generally nurse on each breast for 10 to 15 minutes, which is enough to fill their tummies.

Frequency of Night Wakings

If your newborn wakes every hour for a meal, each feeding will be smaller than if he only wakes up every three hours. Over the course of the night, he'll probably get the same amount of milk. As your baby gets older, his nightly food needs diminish, typically around the time he begins eating solid food, which is usually recommended at 6 months. Filling his belly with purees at dinner means he might not be as hungry during the night, but he might want more formula or breast milk during the day. Some babies continue to wake for a meal at least once per night while others might not need to eat so often.

Growth Spurts

When a baby gets ready to grow, her appetite often increases. During times of growth, your baby might wake up more often than normal at night because her body needs extra food to fuel growth. You might notice that your baby wants more milk at night between 1 and 2 weeks of age and again at 2, 4 and six 6 months, note child development experts at the Kids Health website. She might want to nurse for longer or might suck down her bottle, but still act hungry, or she might wake more frequently and eat the same amount as at a typical feeding.

When There's a Problem

Monitoring your baby's growth is one of the best ways to determine whether he's getting enough to eat, both at night and during the day. If your baby nurses for 10 to 15 minutes per side, chances are he's emptying your breasts and filling his tummy. If he wakes at least every four hours to have a bottle or breastfeed, he's likely getting the food he needs at night. However, if your baby isn't gaining weight or he isn't always wetting his diaper when he wakes up at night, he might not be getting adequate amounts of milk. Talk to his pediatrician about boosting his intake during the night.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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