Bottles & Boobs

How Much Formula Does a Baby Really Need?


Feeding a baby can be a stressful endeavor. From knowing what kind of formula your baby needs to how many ounces of formula your baby needs to consume to hit that inevitable growth spurt, there’s no real black and white answer. As parents, we live our lives in the grey area.  

So, let’s go ahead and explore some answers to a few of the tougher questions!

How much formula does a baby go through in a month? According to Tiffany Ghere, a registered dietician and certified specialist in Pediatric Nutrition, it’s based on the baby’s age–most babies will need 2-3 cans of formula per week during their first 12 months.

Together, we’ll weigh in on how the baby’s age is a big factor, some of the best formulas to purchase, and what to do if your baby is overfeeding or not feeding enough.

A Baby’s Age as a Formula Feeding Guide

Age matters–well, at least when it comes to babies that is! Believe it or not, a baby’s age is a huge factor when it comes to determining the amount of formula ultimately needed. As the baby grows older, so will the baby’s hunger, especially as the baby’s weight ultimately starts growing, too.

The following is a guide giving a rule of thumb on how much to feed your infant up to six months of age. 

Newborns: 1-3 Ounces, Every 3-4 Hours

Newborns are definitely tiny (and so are their tummies). With that said, their stomach is only about the size of their own fist. 

This means they can only handle very few ounces of formula every few hours. Plus, as soon as your baby is able to take on more, he’ll let you know! 

2 to 4 Months: 4-6 Ounces, Every 4-5 Hours

Once the 2 month-old mark officially hits, a baby has an increased stomach capacity with room to take in even more formula. 

To pair with this increased size, there will be more regulated feedings without as much frequency actually needed. This means night feedings will slowly no longer be needed, and sleeping through the night becomes normal for both you and your little one! 

6 Months: 6-8 Ounces, every 4-6 hours

Can we say solid foods? YAY! This is the day you’ve been waiting for. At this milestone, baby food can start to be added to the mix. This means that your baby can take in even more food to meet the increase in baby’s hunger demands. 

However, even with formula-fed babies, formula won’t necessarily remain the primary food group. At this point, you’ll generally be able to wean your baby off of needing the formula for their growth development. 

With this age group, the amount of formula needed will also be tailored specifically to your baby, though generally, healthy babies will have gained enough weight and will have experienced enough growth to no longer be dependent on milk supply for critical development. 

As always, you can turn to your pediatrician for specific advice on appropriate timing for changing foods

Is My Baby Overfeeding?

Sometimes, a baby can take on more than they need, but it’s hard for them to realize when enough is enough. They are babies after all!

In order to be able to tell when a baby is consuming too much, whether it’s solid foods or formula feeding, there are two telltale signs to look for:

Frequent Spit-Ups

If a baby is eating too much food, it will not go unnoticed. The biggest side effect of eating too much food is the classic spit-up. This is because the baby’s tiny digestive system can’t handle the excess quantity of food. 

When frequent spit-ups are noticed, it’s a sign to start cutting back on the amount of formula or baby food being fed. 

Excessive Weight Gain

One of the biggest factors for early weight gain is a larger intake in food. Check in with your baby’s doctor to see if too much formula or baby food is the cause for the extra weight gain. 

If not, the doctor will be able to better determine what might be causing the sudden spark in weight gain. 

What About Eating Too Little?

Just as parents can feed their baby too much, there can also be instances where a baby is receiving too little food or supplementation. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when a newborn is getting the right amount of nutrients.

The following are the most common signs that may indicate that your baby isn’t eating enough to sustain normal, healthy development: 

  • There are fewer than five wet diapers within a 24-hour period. 
  • There are signs of hard stools at inconsistent times. 
  • Your baby seems restless and irritable. 
  • Your baby may feel weak, sleeping more as a result.
  • There are no signs of healthy weight gain (growth charts can help guide you with this). 

What To Do if Baby is Overfeeding

If signs of overfeeding become prominent, there are easy remedies to slow down your baby’s increased amount of food intake. Check out these following tips to help better regulate how much goes into baby’s tummy: 

  • Feed for the sole purpose of hunger only.
  • Offer a pacifier to soothe crying instead of going straight to the bottle–sometimes that’s all they really need!
  • Double check the instructions for formula and make sure to not under-dilute the formula. 
  • Ask your doctor if your baby can consume water as an additional supplement. 

What To Do if Baby Isn’t Feeding Enough

As soon as you notice that your baby may not be getting the nutrients he needs, it’s vital that you take the necessary steps to ensure this is corrected as soon as possible. Without every last drop of their dietary nutrition, your baby may not be able to grow and develop into his healthiest and strongest self. 

Make Sure They’re Sleeping Enough

Sometimes, a baby’s sleeping behavior will have them using up additional energy throughout the night when they’re supposed to be replenishing energy instead. Make sure your baby is getting all the necessary rest he needs. 

Observe Your Baby’s Behaviors

Sometimes, a watchful eye is all that’s needed. Babies can’t physically tell you when they’re hungry, but there are other signs to look for and get attuned to! 

Don’t you wish they could talk already? Not to worry – that day will come soon enough! 

By making an extra effort to observe your baby’s behaviors, you’ll be more aware of when might be the right time to give the next bottle. 

Respond to Signs Accordingly

Feeding cues are apparent in a baby! If they continue on the bottle, don’t take it away when you feel they need to stop. Trust us – they’ll let you know when they’re done! 

The same goes for forcing the baby to eat. When they’re actually full, there’s not much room left to keep eating. Be cautious, as they can spit up what they just took down a few minutes later.   

Some of the Best Formulas to Purchase

Ready to choose what formula is best for your infant? We’ve put together quite the list, so you can see what formulas and brands are best for your baby for what reasons.

Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula with Iron Stage 1

Organic formula is a great alternative to a mother’s breastmilk. There are no unhealthy artificial ingredients, so you can feel good about what you’re feeding your baby. Plus, this brand includes organic lactose with tailored nutrition and probiotics to support healthy development.  

Similac for Supplementation Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron

If transitioning from breastmilk to formula, then this is the best mixture for you and your baby. Thanks to modern technology, brands are now able to make formulas that are so closely related to a mother’s breastmilk that the baby won’t be able to tell the difference. Thank you, science!  

Baby’s Only Organic Non-GMO Soy Formula

This is a formula best prepared for babies who are unable to process lactose and need a supplement that will aid them. Filled with nutrients and easy ingredients for digestion, your baby will easily be able to say yes to this in their daily diet without actually saying a word.  

Gerber Good Start Soothe Powder Infant Formula

Mixed with protein, this is a formula perfect for those babies who have a more sensitive digestive system than most. It also contains an ingredient that helps soothe fussiness and prolonged crying.

On Average, How Much Do Parents Spend on Formula?

While each formula doesn’t necessarily cost the same, and some babies require more complex formulas than others, there is an average cost that parents can use as a guide when making their baby budgets.

When popular brands were analyzed, it was noticed that the average cost of formula could range from about $1200 to $1500 during a baby’s first year. This is according to the U.S. Surgeon General, too.  

There are a ton of ways to save on baby formula though! For instance, a mother can rely on her own breast milk, or make sure to purchase formula in bulk orders. The motto “buy more, save more” always comes in handy, right? 

Our Final Thoughts

Now you can confidently say you truly know the answer when other new parents throw out the question, “how much formula does a baby go through in a month?”

But it really does boil down to the fact that it’s you and your baby that make the ultimate decision.

Every baby is different, especially in the way they process different types and amounts of food.

However, if you follow these simple guidelines and use your parental intuition, you have a much better chance to set yourself, and your baby, up for success!


The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant's pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.

Meet the Author

Bridget Reed, contributing writer for Milk Drunk with the expert advice of Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann

Bridget Reed is an experienced writer, editor SEO content manager and proud mom of three.

  • Milk Drunk Weekly

    Need a good read while you feed? Keep in the loop with the top pieces from the Milk Drunk team.