Formula Feeding – Who Needs It, How Much, And Which One To Choose?

Written by Dr. Burtseva Tamara Viktorivna on Mon, 11 December 2023

Key Highlights

  • Formula milk is an artificial substitute for breast milk, designed to provide essential nutrients for newborns. Available in powder or liquid form, the decision to formula-feed is a personal choice based on factors such as convenience, time, diet, and flexibility.
  • Feeding patterns vary based on the baby's age and needs.
  • In the first month, 1 to 2 ounces every 2-3 hours may be sufficient, with frequency increasing as the baby's belly grows.
  • At 2 months, a baby may drink 4 to 5 ounces every 3-4 hours, and by 6 months, 6 to 8 ounces 4 to 5 times a day is typical.
  • Formula needs may decrease after 6 months as the baby starts eating solids.
  • FDA regulates formula ingredients and production. Formulas include those based on cow's milk (modified for easy digestion), iron-fortified formulas, soy formulas for lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, and prebiotic/probiotic formulas for a healthy gut.
  • All formula brands have similar compositions meeting nutritional needs. Parents can choose a formula based on their baby's preferences. When uncertain, seeking guidance from a pediatrician is recommended. 

Choosing Formula Feed For My Baby

Formula milk is an artificial substitute for breastmilk, specially created to feed newborn babies. It contains all the nutrients essential for your baby. It is available in powder or liquid form. The decision to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby is entirely yours. You can choose formula milk over breast milk keeping the following factors in mind:

  • Convenience and participation: It is convenient for all members of the family to formula-feed the baby at any time.
  • Time: The frequency and the time for formula-feed are usually less as compared to breastfeeding.
  • Diet: There is no need to maintain a strict diet as it will not affect your baby.
  • Flexibility: You can formula-feed your baby anytime and anywhere. There is no need for privacy in a public place to feed the baby.

How Much And How Often Should You Feed Your Baby?

How Much And How Often Should You Feed Your Baby?

Not all babies have the same pattern of feeding. It depends entirely on the baby’s needs.

  • First month: Your baby has a small tummy. For the first few days, 1 to 2 ounces of formula, every 2-3 hours is sufficient for the baby. You can increase the frequency as needed. Most babies feed about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. As the baby’s belly grows, the demand for feed grows as well.
  • After two months: A 2-month-old baby may drink up to 4 to 5 ounces of formula, every 3-4 hours. If your baby sleeps for a long time, try to wake up your baby after 4 to 5 hours and feed your baby.
  • Four months later: At 4 months, the quantity of feed increases to about 4 to 6 ounces at each feed. The sleeping pattern of your baby is not so monotonous currently. So, there is less need for night feeding.
  • Six Months: By the time your child is 6 months old, he may have 6 to 8 ounces of formula, 4 to 5 times a day. On average, 21/2 ounces of infant formula is recommended per ounce of body weight per day.
  • Above 6 months: After 6 months, the need for formula starts decreasing as the baby starts eating. So, feed only if the baby is not taking solids. Initially, it is advisable to formula feed the baby when he shows hunger signs. With time, the feeding pattern becomes regular.

Selecting The Best Formula For Your Baby

Selecting The Best Formula For Your Baby

The ingredients and production of the formula are administered by FDA. Various kinds of formulas available are:

  • Based on cow’s milk: The majority of the formulas are based on cow’s milk with modifications to suit your baby’s needs. Excessive lactose or milk sugar is added, just like in breast milk. The fats and protein are modified by heating to make them easily digestible for the baby.
  • Iron-fortified baby formula: This is a cow’s milk-based formula with added iron. It is suitable for infants with low iron levels in the body since iron is essential for your baby’s growth and development.
  • Soy formula: This formula contains soy protein. It is recommended if your baby is unable to digest lactose present in formula milk. As it contains no animal products, it is preferred by strict vegetarians. Also, if your baby has a dairy allergy, you can go for soy-based formula milk rather than conventional formula. A few babies cannot tolerate breast milk or formula milk at all. This is termed as galactose intolerance. Doctors recommend using soy formulas for such babies.
  • Prebiotic and probiotic formulas: These are infant formulas fortified with healthy bacteria, which promote a healthy gut for your baby.

Conclusion: Choose What Suits Your Baby Best!

Regardless of the brand of the formula milk available in the market, all have nearly the same composition and meet the nutritional needs of your baby. You can try and select the formula that your baby likes. In case you are not sure about which formula you should choose for your baby, get guidance from the pediatrician.


Dr. Burtseva Tamara Viktorivna

Dr. Burtseva Tamara Viktorivna is a pediatrician by profession based out of Ukraine. In 2004, Dr. Viktorivna graduated from Ukraine's Donetsk Medical University where she specialised in pediatric studies. She then gathered extensive experience on ground until 2011 at city polyclinic No. 1 in Donetsk, where she worked as a pediatrician handling a variety of cases.

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