One of the biggest questions new parents have when shopping for baby gear is how many bottles you will need. For new moms and dads, it can be difficult to grasp how many feedings you’ll do and how many dishes will inevitably pile up in the sink. The first few weeks can feel like a chaotic whirlwind of counting the hours between feeds, counting diapers, and burping endlessly.
Because of that, we wanted to take the guesswork out of your baby wishlist and lay it all out for you! While the numbers may vary slightly between formula and breastfeeding moms, use the information below as a solid starting place for your registry or online shopping cart.
How many bottles does a bottle fed baby need?
Let us preface this chart by saying every baby is different and every baby has different needs. This is a rough guideline. It does not mean your baby will only want to eat the assigned amount at each feeding or wait that long between bottles.
This is especially true for breastfed babies. The chart below is geared toward formula feeding. Breastfed babies benefit from nursing on demand as breast milk digests quicker than formula and frequent nursing is designed to establish and maintain a healthy supply.
|Age||Hours Between Feeding||Bottle Size|
|Number of Bottles Used||Number of Bottles Needed|
I.e. 8 used a day, you should probably
own 50% / 100% more for spares and washing rotation
|0-4 weeks||2-3||.5 oz. (first week) 1-2 oz.||~8||~12|
|5-8 weeks||3-4||2-4 oz.||~6||~9|
|3 months (9-12 weeks)||3-4||4-6 oz.||~6||~9|
|4 months (13-16 weeks)||4-5||4-8 oz.||~6||~9|
|5 months||4-5||4-8 oz.||~5||~8|
|6 months||4-5||8 oz. +||~5||~8|
** The number of feedings and required bottles will descend after 6 months as you incorporate solid food into your infant’s diet. Ultimately, your baby’s hunger cues are better indicators at that time.
How many baby bottles do I need if breastfeeding?
Most sound advice says to purchase somewhere between 50% or 100% more bottles than you will need to account for bottles in the dishwasher and the need for extra. When referring to the table above, it’s easy to determine that you’ll need 12+ bottles if your infant is drinking at 8 feedings per day. As feedings go down, you won’t need as many and can better utilize bigger bottles that hold up to 8 oz.
With breastfeeding, you may need even less than the table indicates because breastmilk doesn’t spoil the way formula does. So, you can get two 4 oz. feedings from one 8 oz. bottle and not have to throw out any milk. Simply, place the milk in the fridge and reheat under hot water.
If you’re planning on nursing and only supplementing with bottles occasionally, you can probably get by with 4-6 bottles initially. However, investing in a few extra breast pump compatible bottles may be useful for milk storage.
How many baby bottles do I need for formula feeding?
Formula-fed babies require a greater stock of bottles. Every feeding generally requires a fresh bottle as formula does not keep and needs to be thrown out after 2 hours. If your prepare a bottle and do not feed it at all, the mixture can last up to 24 hours in the back of the refrigerator. That’s why parents can prepare a large batch in a pitcher and feed it throughout the day.
Therefore, with bottles constantly being emptied and washed to make way for the next feeding, it would be wise for formula-feeding parents to go ahead and by 50-100% more bottles than you are feeding. 8 bottles is a safe starting point, but if you find yourself scrambling for a bottle in the middle of the night only to find that none are clean, go ahead and spring for more.
How many baby bottles do I need if combination feeding?
Again, every baby is different, but for help determining how many bottles you’ll need for the number of feedings, refer to the table above. If you’re only using formula for 1-2 feedings a day, you’ll probably find yourself landing somewhere at the bottle of the table and only needing 4-5 bottles. Obviously, increase that number if you’re doing closer to half formula and half breastmilk.
The recommendation of purchasing 50-100% more than you need still stands, but ultimately that depends on your particular schedule and combination feeding preferences.
Types of Bottles – A Quick Recap
Not all bottles are created equal! Any veteran mom will have a select few that she deems “the best baby bottle.” However, that can vary widely depending on her child’s specific needs.
For breastfed babes, you’ll probably be interested in bottles that mimic the natural shape of a nipple and lends to easy switches from breast to bottle. Additionally, babies can benefit from using anti-colic bottles because bottles which trap too much air can cause stomach pain and fussiness.
Some bottles are great for storage in your milk cooler, others are easy for babies to hold… It could be helpful to buy a variety at first in order to gauge how your baby responds to them. This is especially true for breastfed babies as they are usually picky after being on the breast for a while. Read reviews, pros and cons, and give each bottle a decent try before ruling out their effectiveness.
What else do I need?
Breastfeeding is cost-effective, yes, but that’s not to say it’s entirely free to get started. Like formula-feeding, you need supplies and tools to make the most of your breastfeeding journey. Have a look at the necessities below and feel free to refer back to our linked articles for an in-depth explanation of your breastfeeding “must-haves.”
- Breast pump
- Milk cooler
- Storage bags
- Bottle brushes
- Bottle sterilizer (some can be used for pump parts as well)
LIke breastfeeding, there are tools available to make bottle feeding easy and painless (even in the middle of the night). Have a look at the supplies below and refer back to our detailed explanation and product recommendations to make shopping easy!