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How Many Times Should 5 Mo. Old Be Eating

I have a 5 month old son who is now about 12.5 pounds. Early on he had issues gaining weight (he has acid reflux and spits up quite a bit). He is slowly, but steadily gaining weight, and the doctor is happy with his growth. Now that he sleeps through the night (8 pm- 7 am most nights), that's one less feeding he gets. He is breastfed, and I'm wondering about how many feedings a 5 month/12.5 lb. baby should be getting. I have a hard time getting in 6 feedings a day as it is. In the morning, he eats every 2 1/2-3 hours, and in the afternoon and evening I'm feeding him every 1 1/2-2 hours to get in as many feedings as possible. He eats on both sides for a total of 30-50 minutes each time. Also, we'll be starting solids in the next week or so. Can a serving of rice cereal take the place of one breastfeeding session? This is probably one of those things that I just need to try and see how it goes, but if anyone has any advice, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!

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Hey there, just went thru all this. :) As far as I understand it, solids shouldn't take the place of breastfeeding at this stage, only to supplement it. Their digestive system isn't developed enough to pull enough nutrition out of solids just yet, so breastfeeding is still essential for getting their nutritional needs met. I'd also consider introducing formula into his diet, all the proteins can help pack on some weight. I wouldn't go all formula, but a 4-6oz bottle a day might help weight gain. And it would give you (it sounds like) a much needed boob-break from all that breastfeeding. :)
Hope this us helpful! -L. s.

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First and foremost, don't replace nursings with solid food feedings. You add the solid food to your feeding schedule and still continue nursing as usual. Here is a great and useful guide I used with my first son (now 2 yrs old) and now my second son (now 7 months old). It is the best and easiest feeding guide I could find, and I researched A LOT (if the link does not come through, search Google for "babycenter feeding guide". There is an infant guide to 1yr old and a toddler guide to 3 yrs old):


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I have a 5 1/2 month old son who weighs the same as your little guy. He recently started sleeping through the night most nights. Sleeping through the night for us is around 7:00 pm - anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 am for now. I had the same concerns you did about eating. My son is formula fed rather than breastfed. He gets 4-5 feedings per day, and sometimes only 4 if he wakes up on the later side. This comes out to every 3-4 hours. I increased the amount of his formula in a feeding when he dropped the middle of the night feeding. I would imagine that as long as you are feeding him on demand every 2-4 hours he is fine.

I just started my son on solid foods. For now, cereal should not be replacing your son's milk intake. It is in addition to his breastfeeding. I have heard that not until they are about 9-10 months old does their milk intake start to change.

Hope this helps!

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If you intend on nursing for a longer period of time, I would not replace a nursing session with food. This can and will slow down your milk production. Remember milk production is on a supply and demand. If you stop one feeding it will slow down. I would nurse first then 1 hour later then introduce cereal. I always gave cereal at night. I would sit down around 6-7pm give cereal, top that off with a warm bath(you know they get messy), let them play for a small time after and then nurse to sleep. You should have a happy camper all night. I nursed all 4 kids, 9 year old twins for 4 months, and the last 2 6, and 1 for 1 year. Always offered the breastmilk before any food. Breast is best, but I would definately start the solids soon.
Good luck

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Hi Jen,

Sounds like he's getting enough milk if he's eating 6 times a day. My son(s) pediatrician says that's how many meals a day they should eat anyway. When you start your rice cereal, start with only 1-2 tsp.s and still give breastmilk afterwards. You never want to substitute that! The more vitamins you can give him the more pounds he will start to gain. Sounds to me that your doing everything you can. Just give him some time, every baby is different and as long as he's healthy, don't worry! He's going to be just fine. Good luck with all you do. I'm sure your a great mother to him!!!!

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My son is 6.5 months old and he eats approximately every 4 hours. With the solid food, you still want him to have the breastmilk at every feeding. What we did was feed our son the solid food first and then follow it up with the breastfeeding or a bottle. For example: 1st feeding is around 8 a.m. with cereal and a bottle, 2nd feeding around Noon (bottle only), 3rd feeding around 330 or 4 (bottle only), and then 4th feeding around 630 or 7 with vegies and then followed up with a bottle. Remember, your son will indicate to you when he is hungry and when he is full. It is really trial and error but you guys will figure it out! Good luck!

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Hi Jen,

In my experience the feeding could change from week to week. A "normal" schedule might be: 1. feed when wake up 2. feed before morning nap 3. feed around lunch time 4. feed before afternoon nap 5. feed evening snack 6. feed before bed.

However, as they get older some feedings are skipped simply because the baby is not hungry and does not let you know that they want to eat. Other times they seem more hungry than normal and get an extra feeding. I would follow his cues, he may be perfectly happy on 5 feedings per day.

As far as solids go, yes it can replace a breastfeeding, or at least it did for me. However, I mixed my rice cereal with breastmilk, so they were still getting some breastmilk and at first you need to make the cereal really milky.
I started off with 1 solid feeding a day. I chose the time of day when my little one seemed the most hungry. Once they mastered the very milky cereal, I slowly let it get thicker. Then, once the baby was able to eat a thicker cereal, I would introduce a fruit or veggie to go with it (remember only 1 new thing for a week). Then I would introduce solids at an additional meal. By the time they were 8 months, they were eating 3 meals a day of solids with breastmilk in between and whenever they wanted. That system worked really well for both my girls. They both breastfed for 1 year, but by the time they were a year, they were not nursing very often, and I had introduced formula to them for their cereal and for bottles if I was out (formula started about 8 months). That made it incredibly easy to wean them. It came naturally with virtually no effort.
I hope this was helpful.

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I nurse my 9 month old every 2 hours from about 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. That's a total of approximately 6 feedings. She's always been on the lean side so when she started to sleep through the night at 6 months, I worried that she would lose weight. In fact she's gained steadily and yours probably will too. A good way to tell if he's getting enough to eat is if he has 6 - 8 wet diapers a day. Trust me, he will let you know if he's hungry! My daughter is eating solids now too so I nurse her and then wait about 30 minutes and then feed her the solids (cereal + veggies mixed with breastmilk). She gets two solid meals a day. But like I said, he would let you know if he wants more. And if you're still anxious, consult a lactation consultant or La Leche League. Kaiser (S.F.) has a great lactation department free for members too. They helped me a lot!
Easier said than done but try not to worry.

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Congratulations on your new little baby. The fact that he is gaining weight shows that he is eating appropriately. However, he is old enough to start eating some rice cereal which will help him sleep through the night {if you feed him with his last meal of the night} and should help him to gain some more weight.Start with small amounts at first and increase slowly. When he is tolerating his feedings at night then you can introduce cereal in the morning too. Your breastfeeding is adequate and successful, so don't worry about exactly how many times a day or for how long he should be feeding. You're doing fine. Every baby is different. Just sit back and enjoy that beauiful little baby. charlottef

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Hey there, just went thru all this. :) As far as I understand it, solids shouldn't take the place of breastfeeding at this stage, only to supplement it. Their digestive system isn't developed enough to pull enough nutrition out of solids just yet, so breastfeeding is still essential for getting their nutritional needs met. I'd also consider introducing formula into his diet, all the proteins can help pack on some weight. I wouldn't go all formula, but a 4-6oz bottle a day might help weight gain. And it would give you (it sounds like) a much needed boob-break from all that breastfeeding. :)
Hope this us helpful! -L. s.

1 mom found this helpful

I've just attended a nutrition class and they said definitely make sure the foods you introduce are not taking the place of a feeding. Right now your little guy needs all the calories, fats, etc. in the breastmilk. Breastmilk digests in only an hour and a half so he should be feeding about every 2.5-3 hours if he takes an hour to eat. So, even with his sleep through, say he sleeps from 12am to 6am, feeds at 6, 9, 12, 3, 6, 9 and 12, that's 7 feeds. Their stomaches are only about golf ball size so they have to be fed often.

I am doing a combo of breastmilk and formula and had stretched my baby's tummy out so he was fitting about 5.5 oz and going three hours between feeds. They said cut him back to 3.5 per feed and just feed him more often so now he eats about every hour and a half to 2 hours. He sleeps through those short feedings during naps twice a day and has a 6 hour sleep through most nights but we're still getting in between 7-11 feedings everyday. My little one also had weight gain troubles and they recommended offering the breast more often to help with that. You might also find that if you feed more often the spitting up stops. Mine has almost completely stopped now that we're feeding more often and less in quantity. See what happens if you feed him say, 10 minutes on each side every 2.5 hours instead of going so long between feeds. And, if you offer the breast more often, will he take it or is he refusing it? Let me know how it goes :)
Good luck to you!

Hi Jen,
Rice cereal at this age will not take the lace of a breatfeeding session. He will just be getting used to it. You should be following the same guidelines as earlier. There is not a certain number of times he necessarily needs to breastfeed. Just follow his feeding cues. As long as he is still growing and is hydrated, no worries.

Hi, My name is H.. I'm breast feeding my second child. I learned that you want to breast feed on one side till it's empty. If you ever pump you'll notice at first it's watery, thats how babies get their "water" then it's just regular milk, then it gets to the fattiest milk at the end. It actually makes cream in a bottle if allowed to cool, so try to feed till your breast is empty instead of switching sides, your baby will get the most fat and all the nutrition your body has to offer. Good Luck.

Solid food doesn't become a source of nutrition until babies are 9-12 months. The first foods are just to get them used to the idea: it does not replace breastfeeding.
It sounds like his intake is good, especially with a long feeding. From what I've heard 2-3 hours is perfectly normal, and babies with reflux do better eating smaller amounts frequently. (My baby also has reflux.

If your baby does not seem to be rooting for milk or seem hungry, he is probably getting plenty of feedings and milk- nursing 30-50 mins/ sessions is a long time so he must be getting a lot of nourishment and calories from those nursings. Keep nursing on demand and he should be just fine. Starting rice cereal is good but it may not take away a nursing session because you really do not give them very much cereal at first. Follow your instincts and the hunger cues your son gives you and you both will be fine
Take Care

Lucky you if he's sleeping all night. My little ones (now 3 1/2 & 21 mts.) didn't sleep all night for over 1 1/2 yrs. I remember my 17 y/o. slept all night & she was also bf. Just count yourself lucky, if he's already sleeping all night. Usually they still wake up once or twice a night to eat through at least the first year. They also can start waking up at night to eat when in a growth spurt or teething. As far as times a day to feed him, follow his lead, because babies are different. Some are sippers & will nurse often. Others will fill/tank up & take less nursing sessions.

yes, one serving of rice cereal will take the place of one of his feedings. My daughter, who is 25 months, constantly ate as well, although she did not have the problem with acid reflux. When we had introduced rice cereal she had less feedings. Hope for the best for you and your son.

Hi jen,

I too have a little one that just turned 5 months.... she too has had problems with severe acid reflux, although hers was silent... i took her to UCLA a few weeks ago and their suggestion was starting her on solids (apparently it helps the acidity in the stomach) she has been on solids for 2 weeks now and is soooooo much better, it seems as though the reflux has gone away. I feed her once in the morning and she wants to breastfeed about 40 minutes after that..... besides that feeding, she is breastfeeding every 3-4 hours during the day and only wakes once at night to breastfeed. I would say that averages out to about 6 feedings or so in a 24 hour period, so i think your right on target :)
hope this helps

Poor thing--it sounds like all you do is nurse all day! But it does sound like he's nursing enough. Cereal should just be supplementing the milk at this age--it can replace feedings when he's older, but right now he should be getting milk first, and cereal if he's still hungry. I started rice cereal feedings in the evenings when my milk supply is running low. If he's growing well and seems content between feedings, you're probably doing just fine. See if you can get him to last a little longer between feedings in the afternoon. Good luck!

I think 6 is about the minimum a baby should get. Your son eats a lot at once. When my daughter was that age, a was lucky if she nursed for 15 minutes. All babies are different, even if people try to make you think there is some sort of "normal" baby. Normal has a VERY wide range. My daughter, who is 15 months still wakes to nurse twice a night. Babies usually know what is best for them. Babies have an amazing natural ability to know what they need and your job is to be connected enough with your baby to understand his cues. Don't try to change what comes natural unless he isn't gaining any weight (and the gain speeds and slows often through their lives) or some other sort of health concern comes up.

Do you mean you can't get in 6 feeding because he doesn't want them, or you don't want them?
Pediatricians recommend that babies get most of their nutrition from milk until they are one year old. They also recommend that you breastfeed before giving food to ensure that they are getting enough milk in their diet. (ie if they fill up on food, they will miss out on the much more nutritious milk, milk has many times more nutrition than baby cereal.)

I was told a baby should eat about 10 times a day even if its a quick feeding it all counts

my son ( now 14) was falling off the weight charts at that age and i was very concerned... i pumped for a couple of his feedings and started introducing the sippy cup... i added formula to the breastmilk giving him a double strength feeding a couple of times per day... when he did go to solids i also added extra formula powder to his cereal for extra nutrition. by the way at 14 he is still on the small side ( at 5% ) but stays on the charts now.. thank goodness as at his age it is hard to supplement. :)

Hi Jen,

I used to mix the rice cereal with a little breastmilk. It made it mroe palatable for my son. Also, my doctor told me that a baby should be able to empty a breast in 5-15 minutes and the rest is just pacifier sucking. I always nursed my son longer because I wanted to be sure but looking back, I could tell the difference between when he was suckling and getting milk and just sucking for comfort. You might want to try cutting him off a little sooner.

My son was less hungry after he started eating solid foods.

Hi Jen,

Try and offer him rice cereal 2-3 times per day and try to get in 6 feedings. Also, if he seems interested in more foods-- try giving him some vegetable baby food or if he has a few teeth you can try some cheerios or puffs. I wouldn't replace the rice cereal with the breastfeeding-- just in addition to. Good luck to you! It sounds like he is doing great!


My doctor said at 5 months they should be getting 6-8 breast feedings plus one solid (i.e. rice cereal) every day. Sounds like you're doing everything correct.

Hi Jen -

I am a big fan of child-guided feeding until the age of 2 or so. They grow at different rates and different times - sometimes needing more food, sometimes needing much less.

If the doctor isn't worried - let your child's hunger decide what is the proper amount of times to feed him. Don't worry about hitting a certain number - your child has individual needs. And don't worry about how much he eats at any given meal - sometimes he will eat like he is starving to death, and sometimes he will go a whole day without eating hardly anything - it's all OK - you will know if something is truly wrong - if a child doesn't drink anything for 24 hours or more - or when they're older, they don't eat anything for 3 days or more, then you should worry, but within that, it's nothing to worry about - it's really true - K. eat when they are hungry!

Good luck-!!!

solid food should supplement the diet rather than replace any part of it. As for how many feedings he should get just go with what seems right for him. as long as he's healthy and gaining weight your fine.

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