Babies grow rapidly during their first year, and proper nutrition is essential for their health and development. One of the most important foods for infants is breast milk or formula, as it provides all the necessary nutrients required for growth.
At three months of age, an infant’s milk intake is important because a lack of proper nutrition can cause developmental problems. But, how much milk do 3-month-olds need?
The Recommended Amount of Milk for 3-Month-Olds
The recommended amount of milk for 3-month-olds varies depending on whether they are breastfed or formula-fed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), on average, a 3-month-old baby needs about 20-30 ounces of milk per day. The AAP states that a baby should not drink less than 4 ounces of milk per feeding, although they may drink more if they are very hungry or going through a growth spurt.
If your baby is breastfed, they may need to be fed more often as breast milk is more easily digested. Most breastfed infants need to nurse every 2-3 hours, or 8-12 times per day. Formula-fed babies, on the other hand, tend to eat less frequently and require larger feedings around every 3-4 hours.
Factors That Affect a 3-Month-Old Baby’s Milk Needs
Growth and Weight Gain
Growth and weight gain are two of the most critical factors influencing a 3-month-old baby’s milk requirements. On average, a baby weighing around 12 pounds needs around 22-24 ounces of milk per day. However, if your baby is heavier, you may need to increase their milk intake accordingly.
|Weight of Baby||Amount of Milk Required|
|6 pounds||14-18 ounces per day|
|8 pounds||16-24 ounces per day|
|10 pounds||20-25 ounces per day|
|12 pounds||22-30 ounces per day|
It’s important to watch for hunger signals from your baby as the AAP advises feeding on demand in the first few months of life. A 3-month-old baby who is hungry may show subtle cues such as licking or smacking their lips, making sucking sounds, or putting their hands to their mouth. Crying is often a late sign of hunger, so try to feed your baby before they get too hungry.
A baby’s overall health may also influence their milk needs. If a baby is sick, they may eat less than usual or refuse to eat. On the other hand, if they are going through a growth spurt or are more active, they may need more milk than usual.
How Much Milk to Feed at Each Feeding
While the recommended amount of milk for a 3-month-old baby is between 20-30 ounces per day, the amount of milk fed at each feeding varies depending on the baby’s age, weight, and hunger cues.
If your baby is breastfed, you should let them feed until they are full, and they will usually indicate when they are finished by pulling away from the breast or falling asleep. As a rough guide, most breastfed babies take around 10-15 minutes per breast, but some may feed for longer.
Formula-fed babies typically take larger feedings and do not need to eat as frequently as breastfed babies. A 3-month-old baby formula-fed on average takes between 4-6 ounces at each feeding, around 6-7 times per day.
Signs That Your Baby is Not Getting Enough Milk
While it’s important not to overfeed a baby, it’s equally vital to ensure that they are getting enough milk. Signs that a 3-month-old baby is not getting enough milk include:
- Not gaining weight
- Low energy or lethargy
- Not producing enough wet diapers
- Refusing to eat or not eating for a long time
If you are concerned that your baby is not getting enough milk, speak with their pediatrician to check if there are any issues that need to be addressed.
Tips for Feeding Babies
Hold Your Baby Properly
Whether you are breastfeeding or formula-feeding your baby, it is important to hold them correctly to avoid choking or overfeeding. Hold your baby in a semi-upright position with their head elevated, their body straight, and their feet pointing downwards. Tilt the bottle so that the nipple is always filled with milk, but only let the baby take in what they can handle at a time.
Burp Your Baby Frequently
Feedings can create pockets of gas in your baby’s stomach that can be uncomfortable or painful. Typically, parents burp their babies after every 2-3 ounces of milk to help them expel any gas. Burp your baby by placing them over your shoulder or holding them upright and gently patting their back.
Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Needs
Every baby is unique, and their milk needs can vary widely. Pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues and feeding patterns to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Consult with a pediatrician if you have questions or problems.
Proper nutrition is critical for a 3-month-old baby’s development, and milk is one of the most important sources of nutrition for babies. The recommended amount of milk for a 3-month-old baby is 20-30 ounces per day, but a baby’s individual needs can vary depending on many factors, including age, weight, and overall health. If you are concerned about your baby’s milk intake, speak with their pediatrician.
- Q. How much milk should a 3-month-old drink a day?
- A. On average, a 3-month-old baby needs about 20-30 ounces of milk per day.
- Q. Should a 3-month-old drink breast milk or formula?
- A. Breast milk or formula provides all the necessary nutrients required for growth, and both are acceptable sources of nutrition for 3-month-olds.
- Q. Can 3-month-olds drink water?
- A. A 3-month-old baby does not require water as breast milk or formula provides sufficient hydration. In some cases, doctors may recommend small amounts of water if the baby is constipated or in hot weather.
- Q. How often should a 3-month-old baby be fed?
- A. The frequency of feedings varies depending on whether the baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Breastfed infants typically feed every 2-3 hours, or 8-12 times per day, while formula-fed babies require larger feedings around every 3-4 hours.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). How often and how much should my baby eat?
- Children’s Hospital Colorado. (n.d.). How Much Should Your Baby Eat at One Time?
- Kennedy, K.A., & Visness, C.M. (1995). Breastfeeding and growth in infants. Pediatrics, 96(5), 957-959.
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Infant and toddler health: Feeding patterns and diet.