Q: How many calories does my baby need to eat?
A: It depends on her age. Another factor: babies born very small... or very big.
Do NOT do calorie counts on your baby. As you can see, your baby’s calorie needs will increase as she grows.
Real mom tip: baby’s appetite can vary from day to day. This advice also applies to older children. Focus on what your child eats over the space of a week, not every meal. Let’s put this in bold: Obsessing over every once of milk/formula or spoonful of rice cereal isn’t healthy for you or your baby.
That said, here’s how many calories a baby typically needs to eat per day (given yyour baby’s weight in kilograms):
- Babies birth to two months consume 90-110 calories per kilogram in 24 hours.
- Babies three to eight months consume 80-100 calories per kg in 24 hours.
- Babies nine to 12 months need 80-90 calories per kg in 24 hours.
Don’t know your baby’s weight in kilos? To convert pounds to kilograms, divide the weight in pounds by 2.2. For example, a baby weighing seven pounds would weigh 3.2 kilograms.
Now that we have all the formulas, let’s figure out how many calories your average seven pound newborn will need each day to grow normally. Realize this is a ballpark figure because each person has individual energy (calorie) needs. Your little 3.2kg bundle of joy needs between 288-384 calories per day (3.2×90 or 120). Breast milk and formula have 20 calories per ounce. So divide 288 or 384 by 20 calories per once and you’ll find that your baby needs to consume about 15 -19 ounces a day. But, once again, obsessing over every ounce will only give you an overwhelming need for Zantac.
A word on preemies: Premature babies have higher calorie needs to catch up on their growth. Some babied go home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a higher calorie diet requirement. This is achieved with either higher-calorie formula or a special human-milk fortifier that is added to expressed (pumped) breast milk.
A word on big babies: The calorie calculations we’ve made here are accurate for average sized babies. All babied gradually increase their daily breast milk/formula intake and eventually max out at about 40 oz. A day. Average-sized babied get to that point at four to six months of age. A ten-pound newborn may reach that 40 oz. A day maximum before his friends do and will just stick to that daily volume. We point this out so you don’t try to give him 50 or 60 oz. At six months of age.
For the mathematically challenged (that is, us writers) and for those who have forgotten the metric system, here are the common conversions you’ll need to digest this article:
cc (cubic centimeter) or ml (milliliter) are ways of measuring fluid volumes.
1cc = 1ml
5cc or 5ml = 1 teaspoon
15cc or 15ml = 1 tablespoon
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
There are 30cc per ounce, or 2 tablespoons per ounce (oz).
There are 16 ounces (oz) in 1 pound (lb).
There are 2.2 pounds in 1 kilogram (kg).
A simple (but less accurate calculation): Babies from two weeks to there months of age need to eat approximately 2.5 oz. per pound of body weight. (West)
Do NOT calculate your baby’s dietary needs at every moment. You will drive yourself, your spouse (and your doctor) nuts. This is especially challenging to do if you are breastfeeding and can’t see the volume. It’s just helpful information to help you gauge things.