Your baby isn't just 12 weeks—they are three whole months! That's a big deal, mama. Likely moving into another size of clothes, working on their giggles and developing more consistent routines, this is a nice turning point for many families. After 12 weeks of breastfeeding, pumping, formula-feeding or a combination, you can now work on smoothing out any remaining feeding challenges while feeling confident about how far you've already come.
How much milk should a 12-week-old baby eat?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and La Leche League recommend the following feeding schedules and amounts for 12-week-olds.
Breast milk: 4 to 5 ounces every 3 to 4 hours
Formula: 4 to 5 ounces every 4 hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends that parents should follow the responsive feeding method, also known as feeding on demand, which looks to the infant's hunger cues for when to feed. The schedules below are just examples—be sure to follow your baby's hunger signals to know when your little one is ready for the next feeding. As babies get older, their hunger cues and feeding times start to become a little more predictable.
Related: 3-month-old baby milestones
What’s a good 12-week-old feeding schedule?
Remember, it's more important that you follow your baby's cues than adhere to a set schedule, so schedules outlined are general guides of how frequently you'll feed your baby—not hard-and-fast rules.
These guidelines also apply primarily to infants born full-term and without any underlying medical conditions. For preterm infants, babies with certain medical conditions or for any specific questions pertaining to your child, be sure to consult your child's pediatrician for a more customized feeding schedule.
Related: Baby Sleep Guides & Schedules
What are the breast pump cleaning guidelines for a 12-week-old baby?
Whether you use a breast pump on occasion or exclusively pump, there are some guidelines you should keep in mind when it comes to keeping everything clean and sanitized. Official guidelines from the CDC call for sanitizing pump parts quickly after each use in either the dishwasher or basin used only for baby items. After some follow-up questions from Motherly, a representative from the CDC clarified that the breast pump cleaning guidelines were offered to minimize the risk of infection—especially for preterm babies or those with immune system deficiencies.
If full cleaning is not possible between uses (like if you're at work), the CDC said that refrigerating pump parts is the next-best option. By 12 weeks, your baby's immune system has also had the chance to develop more, so the risk of getting sick from contamination from the breast pump is further minimized at this point.
At 12 weeks, feeding your baby should (more or less) be in a comfortable routine. Embrace that, mama! You and your baby have put a lot of work in to learn as much as you have about feeding by this point. The benefit now is that you can worry less about how to feed and focus more on your baby's precious face during feeding sessions.
Read more about wellness for mama and your 12-week-old:
- How much sleep does a 12-week-old need?
- Motherly's Postpartum Wellness Class is here!
- Subscribe to the Becoming Mama podcast
- 6 ways to stop being so hard on yourself as a parent
A version of this story was published October 17, 2021. It has been updated.