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How Often We Should Feed Small Children

Young mothers often worry about feeding their babies. But this 5-Minute Crafts article is going to tell you how often and how much small children should eat.

❗ This article is for informative purposes only and can’t replace the recommendations of an expert.

First days

Newborns have very small stomachs. In order to feel full, they don’t need much milk. The best way to feed a baby during the first days of their lives is to do it on demand. It means that they should be fed every time they ask. And they might be hungry every 1-3 hours. Frequent feeding during this period helps mothers increase milk production and babies learn to suck and swallow correctly. Most newborns eat 8-12 times a day, only around 0.5 ounces during the first 2 days. During the first week, they start eating 1 to 2 ounces.

❗ During the first days, babies might suck each breast for up to 20 minutes, which is why the feeding time might take around 40 minutes. As they grow, the feeding time decreases.

❗ Important: Some newborns may sleep for a long time and look uninterested in eating.
If your baby is sleeping for more than 4 hours, you may need to wake them up. Otherwise, it may affect the future development of the child.

First weeks and months

As babies grow, so do their stomachs, which is why they need more breastmilk. By the time they are 2 weeks old, babies need 2-3 ounces of milk; and when they are 2 months old, 4-5 ounces; and 4-month-olds, 4-6 ounces.

The periods between the feeding times will increase gradually. On average, babies will ask for food every 2-4 hours, but some babies sleep 4-5 hours. The frequency also depends on the time of day. Some breaks will be longer and others will be shorter, which is perfectly normal. Babies will stop sucking when they are full.

From 6 months to 1 year

The duration and frequency of feeding will change as the baby grows and solid foods are introduced (many experts recommend introducing them at the age of 6 months). When a baby is 6 months old, they will need up to 8 ounces of milk every 4-5 hours.

Remember that even though solid foods are introduced, a mother’s milk, at this age, is the most important source of nutrients for a baby.

1-2 years old

When a child is more than 1 year old, the feeding frequency might vary a lot. Some babies prefer milk only as a snack before sleep, while others keep demanding it throughout the day. Experts recommend paying attention to what a certain child wants and offering them milk on demand.

How to know if a child is eating enough

If babies are eating enough, they will:

  • Sleep well
  • Gain weight steadily
  • Poo regularly (use around 4-6 diapers a day)
  • Look quite satisfied after feeding

If babies are not eating enough, they:

  • Don’t sleep well
  • Don’t behave and cry often
  • Don’t gain enough weight
  • Don’t use enough diapers
  • Don’t look happy after eating
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