Medical Q&As

Newborn infant - over feeding?

Is there such a thing as over feeding a newborn baby? Our 4 week old baby can take over 20 ounces in the space of 5or 6 hours? Is this normal?

It is certainly possible to over feed a newborn infant and 20 ounces of milk in 6 hours does seem above average. That amount would roughly approximate to the baby’s total needs over a 24 hour period. On average a young baby needs to drink between 2½ to 3 ounces of formula for each pound of body weight. For example, a baby weighing 10 pounds would need between 25 to 30 ounces of formula in a 24 hour period. The figures I have given are approximations so I don’t want you to adhere too rigidly to them. I simply want to give you some “ballpark” figures. Some babies can indeed be very hungry and may consume more than others. Your baby might well be such a hungry baby. On the other hand your baby might be very thirsty some of the time and it is possible that you are interpreting your baby’s thirst as hunger. In that case water would satisfy the baby’s demand just as milk would but the baby would not be taking onboard the extra unnecessary calories that are contained in milk. Any extra calories that are consumed in the first year of life can result in the deposition of large numbers of fat cells which can lead to obesity in childhood and later life. Therefore overfeeding during infancy can give rise to later difficulties. I would suggest that you make contact with your local PHN (public health nurse). PHNs are specially trained in the care of young babies and can be an excellent source of practical and sound advice.