Friday, January 22, 2010

Infant Formula: How Much is Too Much?!

Babies are pretty good as knowing when to "say when"--that is--when they've had enough! But every once in a while, I run across a baby who is drinking too much formula! For example, this week I was reviewing a chart and found a baby who reportedly is drinking 64 oz of formula a day. That adds up to over 1200 calories a day--much more than a baby needs. So either this is a case of serious overfeeding, a miscalculation, or the mom not knowing exactly how much formula her baby is drinking. Considering the brain fog that occurs during those first few months, the latter could definitely be a possibility!

So what is a good amount of formula for a baby to drink? It varies, depending on the age of the baby and his weight. A premie 5 pounder is definitely going to drink less than a hefty 8 pounder! If a baby is growing well and following the same growth curve, this is a good indication that a baby is drinking the "right" amount. If your baby is consistently drinking more than 32 oz of formula, it needs a closer look. This may be what your baby needs, depending on the other factors mentioned above. If your baby is older than 4 months and the 32+ oz of formula doesn't seem to satisfy him, it may be ready to introduce solids.

Let's Review the Hunger and Full Cues for Small babies:

  • Lip smacking
  • Sucking on hands or fingers
  • Moving around, getting upset
  • Crying (it's best to feed your baby before he gets to this point!)

  • Falls asleep
  • Turns away from the bottle
  • Closes mouth to nipple
It's important to respect your baby's cues--he'll know that he can trust you to meet his needs. At the same time, don't encourage your baby to finish the bottle or keep drinking when he's shown signs that he's full. This overrides your baby's natural ability to control his food intake to meet his needs. Unlike adults, babies are good at following their appetite!

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