Baby Feeding at 3 Months – How Often & How Much - Food Guide

Baby Feeding at 3 Months

Feeding a baby of 3 months of age is different to a newborn. Even within a few short months there is a world of change in their development and responses. They’ve had lots of opportunity to practice their feeding skills, so by three months a baby’s sucking and swallowing is more refined.  It’s also less influenced by reflexes and more by learned behaviour.

Babies are hardwired to seek interaction and love, and feeding times especially are an opportunity for engagement. Hunger is the single biggest motivator for a baby of 3 months to feed. By this age and stage they give very clear signals that they are hungry, and similarly when they’ve had enough.

It’s Time for Your Feed...

Age, gender, environment, growth and development are all important factors in feeding. Try not to interpret your baby’s cries as always meaning they’re hungry.  There are lots of reasons why babies cry.

Early Hunger Cues in a 3 Month old Baby

  • Mouthing around and putting fingers/fists in mouth
  • Unsettledness, especially if it’s been a couple of hours since the last feed
  • Arm and leg waving
  • Not calming with cuddles
  • Waking from a sleep

Late Hunger Cues in a 3 Month Old Baby

  • Crying and distress
  • Searching for a breast or bottle

By three months babies have developed head and neck control. Floor time, on their tummy everyday when they’re awake, will help to build their upper body skills. These skills start to become obvious in all sorts of ways, even when feeding. They’ll want to look around and will use your shoulder to rest their head on if they’re tired.

Reflux and 3 Month Old Feeding

Your baby may still be showing signs of reflux and/or crying. Some babies aren’t distressed by their reflux and continue to grow and thrive. Others show distress when they’re refluxing because the acid stomach contents cause heartburn type symptoms.

Most babies start to outgrow their reflux symptoms from three months of age. By then, gravity and gut maturity make a real difference to feeding and digestion.

Crying and 3 Month Old Feeding

There have been many theories about why babies cry, particularly in their first three months of life.

Whatever the true cause for crying, we do know that most babies start to calm by three months of age. Their feeding and sleep become more predictable, they are better at communicating their needs, and they are into more of a routine.

Expect Your 3 Month Old Breastfed Baby to

  • Want to snack more often in the late afternoon and evenings.
  • Have become a capable little sucker at the breast. Their nutritive sucking action by this stage is very efficient so expect shorter feeding times.
  • Not be as satisfied with one breast at feeds and start to demand the second breast as well.
  • Show a preference for one breast. Some babies just seem to prefer one side and they need a little encouragement to accept both. Experiment with different feeding positions and offer the least preferred breast first when they’re hungrier.

Expect Your 3 Month Old Bottle Fed Baby to

  • Become more predictable with their feeding times. 
  • Still wake for feeds overnight. 
  • Need more volume with their feeds. As their weight increases so does their need for extra kilojoules. 

How Often Should a 3 Month Old Feed?

Five General Tips for Feeding Your 3 Month Old Baby

  1. Let your baby guide you regarding when they are hungry and when they are satisfied. Overriding their hunger and satiety (fullness) cues can lead to feeding problems.
  2. Keep a bib handy when your baby is feeding. Dribbling milk and small possits (vomits) are common with three month olds.
  3. Always read the label on formula tins if you’re bottle feeding.
  4. Expect night waking and feeding. 
  5. Avoid co-sleeping and feeding your baby in your bed.

Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional for more information about your three month old baby’s feeding.  Have your baby’s weight and growth measured to make sure they’re getting enough milk to thrive.