17 answers

4 Month Old Eating Habits

My son is 4 months old and has gotten really off track when it comes to his feedings. He used to eat every 4 hours during the day and usually longer at night. Now, he barely goes three hours. I have upped his ounces but he will only eat about 4 ounces then refuses anymore. We have begun him on vegetables once a day in between his bottles. How can I get him back on track and to sleep longer at night? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Try putting a little rice cereal in his bottles. This will help to keep him full longer. He should be ready to take more formula soon, so keep trying 6 ounces once or twice a week until he starts taking it all.
J.

Did someone actually tell you to start feeding him solid food? Three kids and no one ever recommended solid food before six months...I agree wholeheartedly with the other advice you've gotten here. Liev especially is very knowledgeable and on this subject I agree with her response totally.
C.

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Excellent questions. Actually, back on track is not somewhere you want to take your son, and you don't want to go there, either! Adults should eat every 4 to 5 hours. By comparison, with their little tummies, babies need to eat more frequently. Formula-fed babies tend to feel fuller longer because formula is more difficult to digest. But four hours is still a long time for them to go, and they also still need hydration. Sometimes, with more activity, a drier environment (common in winter), or warmer weather, they will want more breastmilk or more formula because they want more fluids.

Also, pull out your measuring cups. Take a close look at the half-cup measure. That is a LOT of food to be filling your baby up with, given that he is only four months old and his stomach is no bigger than his fist. Don't feel bad - it's a common mistake - but you've been overfeeding your baby and need to adjust the routine in the opposite direction of where you *want* to go! Overfeeding in infancy has been linked with obesity (and all of the related diseases) because they get used to that overfull feeling and eventually conclude that it is how they are *supposed* to feel by the time they are done eating.

You'll want to speak with a nutritionist who specializes in infant and childhood nutrition to get things on the right track. Get a referral from your son's doctor. Meanwhile, try smaller amounts - say, 2 ounces per feeding - and forget about the clock. Instead, watch your baby to determine when you should feed him. As I'm sure you can guess, he will let you know!

As for sleeping at night, do your son and yourself a big favor, and make this a completely different issue from feeding. Don't use feeding practices to try to control his sleeping patterns. Babies wake at night and cereal doesn't work to keep them asleep. That is just an old wive's tale. Get a copy of Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears, a little book packed with fantastic advice on how to handle sleep/nighttime issues. You can also get a lot out of The Discipline Book (same author), which also of course provides information on various other common issues that infants and children have, and it's great for laying the groundwork for a positive parent-child teaching/guidance/discipline dynamic through the years ahead (primarily by establishing a really positive, close bond, and gives a lot of how-to, there, as well). Couple of bucks on amazon.com for a used copy and worth its weight in gold. An hour or two reading these books will save you days of misery through those trials of parenting when you feel like you're going to pull your hair out.

L.

This is pretty normal for babies. He may be going through a growth spurt and needs more formula. Remember his tummy is very little so he can only take 4ounces or less at a time. When my oldest daughter started this she was 5 months and we had just started our traveling journey from St. Louis to Anchorage, AK. I was scared she was going to wake everyone in the hotels at night. I started giving her a bowl of cereal mixed with breast milk, and then nursed her before putting her down. The cereal was filling and helped her to make it through the night. Some people mix it in the bottle, but I always fed it to her separately. I hope this gives you a little help.

Babies will change their eating/sleeping patterns several times during the first year. Hang in there, before you know it he will be back to his normal schedule

Trica

Growth spurt a likely candidate, however, have you considered whether he might be teething? If the gums are sore, that will often cause a baby to eat less at a given feeding, thus causing them to be hungry earlier. The teething will also disrupt the sleeping pattern. If he is displaying any other signs of teething you might talk to your ped. about whether some anbesol or tylenol prior to a feeding might help alleviate some discomfort and allow him to take fuller feedings.

If teething is not the issue, plan on feeding more frequently. When he's through, you'll notice his food intake will decrease and you will slowly be able to extend him back to 4 hours. Also, the veggies in between may be causing the problem. Like others said, I would advise starting w/ cereal, but in any event would not do it in between. Whenever his feeding is should be when he eats whether solid or liquid. Give him his bottle and then try the solid after he has eaten. There's no rush to get him on solids, so don't worry about him not getting enough at that age it's mostly just for getting a taste & getting used to the texture. If he used to eat at 10 & 2, but you're giving him veggies at 12, he probably will not take as many oz at the 2pm, thus causing him to be hungry earlier than 6.

every 3 hours is normal. if it makes you feel better, by breast fed 6 month old twins still want to eat every 2-3 hours. your baby might be going through a growth spurt or it might be time to start cereal with a spoon.

Try putting a little rice cereal in his bottles. This will help to keep him full longer. He should be ready to take more formula soon, so keep trying 6 ounces once or twice a week until he starts taking it all.
J.

I would suggest trying to feed him more often...say every two - three hours. My son is 5 months old and still eats 6oz every two hours during the day and veggies twice a day. He also sleeps eight to ten hours at night. Maybe increasing feedings during the day will help him get through the night. Good Luck.
J.

my guess would be that either one of two things has happened. He's not liking the veggies and he's afraid that you'll take his bottles, or the more likely of the two...he's going throuh a growth spurt. I wouldn't worry about it right now. and I wouldn't about him not taking more than 4oz, their tummies are still very small, and people whose kids drink 9oz at 4mos are probaly over feeding their kids. My daughter NEVER had a bottle with more than 6oz ever, and she was over 6mos old before she had more than 4oz at a time....you might try cluster feeding in the evenings, like a 4oz bottle at 7, then a 3oz at 830 and a 2oz at 930 or 10 and then to bed and see if that helps him stay fuller without over feeding him at once.

good luck, it's been 7 years since I've been there, but I just found out I'm 5 weeks preggo...so here we go again.

~mich

try adding a little baby food like hawaiian delight or apple sauce to the formula, or the baby cereal although doctors say not to they are idiots i have 4 kids and 4 grand kids and it aint hurt none of em yet it seems they get fuller off hte additives

Did someone actually tell you to start feeding him solid food? Three kids and no one ever recommended solid food before six months...I agree wholeheartedly with the other advice you've gotten here. Liev especially is very knowledgeable and on this subject I agree with her response totally.
C.

Read the book BABYWISE!!!

Okay you have had a not so normal baby. Most infants can go no more than 2 hours before feedings. I would suggest to help to get him to go longer at night is cereal before bed. He is a little young but if you feel like he needs it then.... I only had 1 baby out of 7 sleep through the night before 6 months old. That is just what you need to expect out of babies. He is probably growing as well and needs more more often.

Sounds like he is going through a growth spurt. During the entire first year you will hit these times when the want to eat more often and usually alot more. Giving veggies and rice cereal may help, but he is still going to want to eat more often until this growth spurt is over, and then just get ready for the next one....lol I don't suggest adding it to his formula just because neither of you will no just how much he ate, and babies can tend to gorge themselves on it when it is in a bottle, then not only will you have a hungry baby, but a hungry baby with a belly ache.

I have 4 grown children and 9 grandchildren. I always gave all of them rice cereal with a spoon with their last evening bottle. Not a lot, just a little and all of them slept during the nighttime at 6 weeks. None of them has any allergy problems nor problems with obesity. Rice cereal is gentle to their stomach.

I thought cereal was the first food of choice for infants -- and not until 6 months old.... Vegetables don't have much "rib sticking abilities". Ask your physician.... There's a reason to wait for a while -- has to do with allergies!

As your child grows, sometimes they need more food. Just wait until he's about 12, eats constantly for about a week, you finally get to the grocery store to buy everything he's been eating, take it home, and the growth spurt has stopped.

Enjoy your son! They grow up very fast!

Well I see you are giving him vegetables but you did not mention cereal. I advise giving him rice cereal to start on grounds that rice is most likely to not be a allergy causing agent. He should have cereal in the morning and the vegetables for lunch and cereal maybe even for supper then the decrease in need for that much formula should start dropping and yes offer him his formula with the food maybe only 2 oz. with meals at first not to over stuff. I think you will see a difference then. His eating habits is probably a growth spurt and will pretty much continuosly change from now on out. I would also attempt getting him to take a 5 oz. bottle and try to get him to wait a little longer for his meals. Good Luck!

I saw a couple of the other suggestions, and they are definitely great ones. Think about this one additional thing...growth spurt! Every time your son goes through a growth spurt, his eating will get out of whack and he will develop a new normal. So, don't try to take him back to the old normal, but evaluate where he seems to be now. I would echo the sentiment to go with cereal and wait a couple more months on the veggies. The typical order is cereal, fruits starting with pears, and then veggies.

The Babywise suggestion is a good one as well. The only suggestion I would make on that is to not feel badly if you and your baby don't fit into the perfect mold of Babywise. Keep in mind that it is a guideline, and use it to help you, not to dictate all you should do.

I would change him to rice cereal with a fruit mixed with it like apple sauce or pears cause the vegies he is a little young for I fed my children at 3 months but now they want you to wait till their 6 months old but my out look on that it you try and go all day on milk but you need something not to harsh on his stomach good luck good luck

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