How Much Milk Should You Give Your Baby? What Happens If You Overfeed?

How Much Milk Should You Give Your Baby? What Happens If You Overfeed?

26 Apr 2022 | 4 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 340 Articles

As a first-time mother, taking care of your newborn baby can be nerve-wracking especially when it comes to breastfeeding. You may wonder about the amount you’re feeding or if your baby is latching on properly. 

Either way, these are all normal questions and it’s okay to check yourself.

The good news is that babies self-regulate their intake and are good at it. However, sometimes overfeeding a baby can lead to discomfort, because they cannot digest the milk properly and underfeeding them can lead to a condition called ‘milk anemia,’ which causes iron deficiency in the body.

So how do you know if you are doing it correctly? Here’s more insight that can help you understand how much milk your baby actually needs for proper growth.


How Much Milk Does Your Baby Need?

Babies tend to get fussy when they are full / Image Credit – Pexels

A newborn normally needs about (1.5–3 ounces) 0.04- 0.08 litres of either formula or breast milk every 2–3 hours. The amount increases as the baby grows.

The baby may drink around 4–5 ounces, every 3–4 hours when he/she is about two months old. 

Once the baby is about four months, it increases to approximately 4–6 ounces during each feeding.

By the time the baby is six months the quantity of milk they drink goes up to about 6–8 ounces, 4–5 times a day.

How do I Know When my Baby is Full?

When your baby is full they tend to turn their head away from the breast or the bottle / Image Credit – Pexels

Fortunately, you can control the amount of milk you feed the baby. It’s not difficult to avoid overfeeding a baby as long as you know what to look for. Observe how your baby responds before, during, and after meals instead of depending on the recommended nutrition targets. Then build a feeding routine accordingly.

Observe your baby for signs to see if they are full / Image Credit – Pexels

Look out for these signs to know that your baby is full:

  • Pushes away the bottle or your breast 
  • Faces away from the bottle or breast
  • Starts to spit out milk or formula
  • Is not interested during the feeding
  • Becomes fussy
  • Starts to fall asleep
  • The sucking stops or decreases
  • Relaxes their fingers, arms and legs
  • Arches their backs

Wrap up the feeding session as soon as you notice these signs of fullness. Do not feed them further.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Overfeeding?

Many new mums sometimes tend to overfeed their babies and that can harm a child’s health. Therefore it is necessary to keep a lookout for these signs:

  1. Turning away from the bottle: When your baby turns his/her face away from the bottle it is one of the signs of being full. Sometimes babies even spit the milk out along with turning away.
  2. Gassy and has a bloated tummy: Overfeeding can make their tummy bloat and make them feel gassy and sometimes it may lead to diarrhoea and cramps.
  3. Vomiting: When a baby has had too much milk he/she may throw up the milk.
  4. Fussy and cranky after feeding: This sign can be tricky as you may think the baby is still hungry but sometimes babies are cranky and irritated even when they are overfed and uncomfortable.
  5. Foul-smelling stools and flatulence: This is another sign of overfeeding
  6. Constant burping: If you notice that your baby has been burping more often than normal, that could be a sign of overfeeding.

Speaking to BabyChakra, Paediatric Nutritionist, Dr Pooja Marathe says, “You may not understand what is happening. Either your baby may be unsettled or distressed during and after feeding, or it can be hard to know whether they are still hungry or are getting too much milk too fast. Your baby may: choke and splutter at the breast due to the high rate of milk flow have trouble latching onto the breast. 

This is termed as hyperlactation or hypergalactia. After you give birth, around three to five days later, you may notice that your breasts are uncomfortable and your milk supply is more than your baby requires, which is good in some cases. People around you may make you uncomfortable but stick to your gut instinct. This will help.”

Breast milk is extremely healthy and necessary for the baby’s growth. It’s common for new mums to worry about whether the baby is getting enough milk. All you need to do is look out for the signs mentioned above to feed your baby right and make sure he/she gets enough nourishment. 

DISCLAIMER: We have taken steps to check the accuracy of the information & practices shared above; however, it is not a replacement for a doctor’s opinion. Please check with either your doctor, or an expert, before trying any suggestion, practice, or medication mentioned here.

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