Can you overfeed a bottle fed baby?

Can you overfeed a bottle fed baby?

Can you overfeed a bottle fed baby – Yes, it is possible to sometimes overfeed a formula-fed  baby by an over-enthusiastic or anxious parent.

Unlike in breastfeeding where baby controls the amount and time, bottle is controlled by parents or caregivers. It is quite tempting to give a bottle to a crying baby even if the baby has been fed only some time ago.

Babies love to suck and it is very easy for them to ingest more than they want or need from a bottle. In India especially, baby’s weight is unfortunately linked to baby’s health. So, every parent wants a chubby, roly-poly baby and they get stressed if baby is lean or does not seem to be having as much milk as they think s/he should have. 

It is important to remember that there is a big range of normal and babies come in all sizes which depends on many factors. If you are worried about your baby’s weight, use our weight and height growth chart tracker to find if your baby is growing well.


Can you overfeed a bottle-fed baby?


How to know if baby is getting overfed ?

Most often if you see that your baby vomits after a feed, it could mean that baby has taken more than needed. A little spitting up is normal but vomiting is stronger.

See difference between spitting up and vomiting.

Signs that you are perhaps overfeeding your baby?

  • Vomiting by baby after every feed could signify that you are perhaps overfeeding the baby.
  • More than eight heavily soiled nappies in a day
  • Frequent bad-smelling poopy diapers
  • Too much gas/ flatulence

Should you follow the instructions given on Formula pack blindly ?

Instructions on formula pack are guidelines to help you but every baby is different and if you baby wants to feed more than recommended amount at a longer gap, so be it. Similarly if baby wants to feed less but more frequently that is alright too. Baby’s doctor will let you know if something is amiss. As long as baby is gaining weight and growing well, there is usually nothing to worry about.

How to avoid overfeeding ?

Think about it how you like to eat food when you are hungry and do not want when you are not. Babies are tuned to their bodies and they will let you know when they hungry or not.

If your baby turns away from the bottle, stop. Do not pack in too much formula in a bottle. If your baby finishes the given amount and still seems hungry, add a little more. You will soon have a rough idea how much formula is enough for your baby and how frequently s/he needs to feed.

Resist the temptation to give a bottle every time baby cries. If the baby has been fed recently, check if there is some other problem like a wet diaper or s/he may be too hot or cold.

Sometimes baby might just crave for your company. Hold the baby and do your favourite things to make her happy.


Is my bottle-fed baby getting enough formula?

Introducing formula to an exclusively breastfed baby

How do I know if my baby is getting enough formula?

Is my baby getting enough formula for feed?

How much formula to give to baby?

Is my formula-fed baby going hungry?

How do I know if my baby is getting enough formula? – Every mother worries about how much her baby should be eating especially in the early days. If you are feeding formula, how much you should give to your baby will depend on your baby’s age, weight and other diet if any.  Here we try to tackle some common queries. 

How to know if baby is getting enough formula 


How to know when my baby is hungry?

Your baby will let you know. Paediatricians these days recommend on-demand feeding, when babies are very young. Try not to put your baby on schedule till she is atleast a few months old. You must follow baby’s cues. When your baby cries for food, feed her and stop when she wants to stop.

Signs of a hungry baby

  • Baby starts licking lips.
  • Baby sucks on fingers or hands or toys.
  • Sticking the tongue in and out.
  • Baby starts rooting, i.e. moving head from side to side.
  • Baby starts fussing or breathing rapidly.
  • Baby cries. This is usually a late sign.


However, you should not feed baby every time she cries.

If you have fed baby within last one hour, check if baby has something else that is bothering her.

It could be a wet or dirty nappy or baby could be feeling too hot or cold.

Try cuddling as baby may want to be held.

If everything else is fine, you may offer her a bottle.



How much formula to give baby and how many times?


Amount of formula and frequency that you give to your baby will depend on her age and weight. Newborns need to feed small amount frequently. As babies grow, the amount of formula will increase and the frequency will decrease.

A general rule of thumb is to take your baby’s weight in pounds and multiply that by 2 and 2.5 to get lower and upper ranges. E.g. If your baby weighs 10 pounds, she should be getting a total of 20-25 oz of formula throughout the day.

However, these are only indicators, and there will be times when your baby wants less (if unwell) or more (during growth spurts).

During the first month, your baby may need 2-3 oz at a time every 2-3 hours. This may vary from baby to baby.

Between 2-3 months, baby may need 3-4 oz at every feed. Ideally your baby should be satisfied and leave a little in bottle. If baby finishes the whole bottle and looks for more, make a little more next time. If your baby leaves a lot in the bottle at every feed, reduce the amount of formula.

Between 4-6 months, you baby may need 4-5 oz per feed across 4-6 feeds in 24 hours.

After 6 months, baby may take 7-8 oz in one feed. You should start introducing solids at this stage.

After 1 year, you may replace formula with cow’s milk. Baby will need a total of 12-16 oz of milk along with solid meals.

It is quite easy to overfeed a bottle-fed baby due zeal on care-giver’s part. Read more about how to know if you are overfeeding your formula-fed baby.


How to know if baby is getting enough formula?

There are simple signs which can tell you that baby is getting enough formula

  • Baby seems happy and satisfied after feeding.
  • Baby gains weight and grows well.
  • Baby has atleast 6-8 wet diapers in 24 hours.

Baby weight and height growth chart

How to know if baby is getting too much formula?

Yes, it is possible to give baby too much formula. Unlike in breastfeeding where baby is able to regulate intake, we try to ensure that baby drinks all that has been served, which is not right. Just as we sometimes feel less hungry than usual, so do babies. You should take a look at how much you are filling in that bottle if :

  • Baby vomits after feeding frequently. A little spit up is common and not worrisome, but vomiting regularly means something is wrong. See the difference between spitting up and vomiting.
  • Baby suffers from tummy ache. Pulling her legs up and crying is one sign of tummy ache.
  • Baby may suffer from gas or acid reflux.



Do not get pressured by how much and how frequently other babies are having their feeds. Your baby will take what she needs and you must respect that as long as she is healthy and growing well.


Further Read:

How to know if your baby is getting enough breastmilk?

Breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding


How to buy baby formula- Types of Formula

How to buy baby formula?

Which formula is the best for my baby?

How to buy baby formula – When you go to the market to buy formula for your baby, the vast amount of choice can overwhelm you completely. Different types of infant formula are available in market and they must be used after discussion with baby’s doctor.

How to buy baby formula


There are various types of formula like ready to use formula, concentrated formula and powder formula. In India, powder formula is available widely and is also used by most people. Powdered formula is also more economical that the other two options.

Cow’s milk based formula

Most formulas available in market are cow-milk based. They are usually the first choice for most babies.

This does not mean that cow’s milk can be given to baby during the first year. These formula are chemically altered to make them resemble closely to breastmilk. Formula is easily digestible so that baby can get the best possible nutrition next to breastmilk. Baby’s immature digestive system is not ready to digest the protein in cow’s milk.

There are many different brands available in the market and you must check with your doctor when deciding what to give your baby. Some of the popular brands of formula in market are lactogen, nanpro, similac, enfamil etc.


Soy-based formula

Soy-based formula is made from soy beans and many brands are available in market now. Usually, if your doctor determines that your baby is lactose-intolerant or is not able to digest cow milk based formula, he may prescribe a soy-based formula. Lactose is a natural sugar present in milk and if baby is not able to digest this sugar, s/he is lactose intolerant. Soy based formula will have some other added sugar, thus making it possible for baby to digest.


Hypo-allergenic formula

Some babies are allergic to milk-based as well as soy-based formula. They are not able to digest the protein present in milk or soya. For such babies, doctor may recommend a hypo-allergenic formula. In these formulas, protein are broken down into basic elements thus making them easier to digest.

If you have a history of lactose intolerance or milk allergy in your family, you must discuss it with baby’s doctor.

How to make formula for baby

It will depend on the type of formula that you use. If you use ready-to use formula, you do not have to do anything. Just pour into the sterilised bottle and it is ready to drink.

Concentrated formula can be diluted with boiled and cooled water to make appropriate feed.

Powdered formula need to be diluted with appropriate amount of water. They come with measured scoops to make the feed.

  • Boil drinking water and cool it to lukewarm.
  • Now take measured amount of water in sterilised bottle and add the correct number of levelled scoops of formula to the water.
  • Stir and shake it well to make a homogenous mixture.


Precautions while using formula for baby

  • Be care about the dates when using formula for baby. Check the expiry date while buying the formula.
  • Follow the instructions carefully. Most powdered formula recommend using up the powder within 4 weeks of opening the pack. Discard if any formula is left in the pack after the time has passed.
  • Some formula can cause constipation in babies. If you feel so, check with your doctor to find another brand which will suit your baby better.


Constipation in babies

How to know if baby is getting enough formula?


Formula Feeding Needs – Essentials for feeding baby

What do I need for formula feeding?

Essentials for formula feeding mothers


Unlike breastfeeding, where you just need yourself and your hungry baby to start breastfeeding, you will need some basic equipment to bottle feed. 

Read more on breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding.

Formula Feeding Needs -Essentials needed for formula feeding


Formula feeding needs- essentials for formula feeding moms

Feeding Bottles – You will need 6-8 feeding bottles of different sizes. You can take 3-4 bottles of 5 oz. and 3-4 bottles of 8 oz. size which will serve till much later. Ensure that the bottles you buy are from reputed brands and BPA free.

Types of feeding bottle available

  • Basic Plastic BPA free feeding bottles for baby

These are basic feeding bottles easily available in all baby stores. They come in different sizes. Most commonly used sizes of bottles are 4-5 oz and 8 oz.


  • Glass feeding bottles for baby

If you do not want use plastic bottles for your baby, you can also opt for glass bottles.

  • Steel feeding bottles for baby

You can also use steel feeding bottles in place of plastic and glass bottles. They are easy to wash and sterilise.

  • Anti-colic bottles

If your baby is prone to colic, you may opt for anti-colic feeding bottles. They are designed in such a way that it allows less intake of air thus


Nipples – You will get nipple with bottles, but you may need some extras to replace in case of damage. Nipples should be regularly changed to ensure they do not get damaged or dirty. Nipples also need replacing at regular intervals as they can harbor bacteria and are much more difficult to clean well. Follow manufacturer’s advise to replace nipples and also replace if you see any cracks.

Bottle brush – You will need one or two bottle brushes. Take one which has an attached nipple brush as well.


Sterilizer – There are bottle sterilizers available ion markets today, although these are optional. You can easily sterilize baby bottles in traditional way by boiling in water or even in a microwave. But a steriliser can come handy if you are busy and sterilising your baby’s feeding equipment everyday is too time-consuming.



Formula – Many brands and types of formula are available in market.

  • Powder formula – This is most common and least expensive of all types. You will need correct measure of lukewarm water and mix it with specified amount of formula powder.
  • Liquid Formula – These are ready-to-use liquids, which can be poured directly to bottles and fed to baby.
  • Concentrates – These concentrated formula require some dilution with water.

 Read more on types of formula and how to buy formula.