Baby Not Breastfeeding as Much Since Adding Solid Foods

Updated on May 21, 2010
L.H. asks from Washington, MI
12 answers

Hi. I am confused as to whether my daughter is getting enough intake. She is 4 1/2 months old and we have been successfully breastfeeding since birth. I began her on rice cereal about three weeks ago, and it's just now taking "effect." She's also been teething terribly for more than a month.

My problems began about two weeks ago. She was very "wild" when nursing, pulling on and off constantly. I just pushed through until she hollered and then pacified her with a pacifier. She usually calmed down right away, so I figured she had gotten enough milk from me (even though it was a struggle). We also started her on the cereal. She did not take to it well at first as expected, but after adding breastfeed, she gobbled it up! The first feeding with breastmilk she ate 5 tablespoons before she felt bloated/full. I thought that was too much.

Now I'll feed her 3 tablespoons of cereal at a feeding even though she would probably take more if I gave it to her. But I think she just likes the olfactory feeling of something in her mouth so I stop after 3 tablespoons. Plus I nurse her. But she has not been very productive with nursing. My guess is that she only takes in about 2 oz at each feeding, which has been sporadic between 3 and 4 hour periods. So, my supply has gone down.

I feed her cereal in the late morning plus nurse her. I nurse her throughout the day, too, but like I said, she hasn't been very productive.

Is it her teeth? Need I worry at all that she's getting enough? Is she taking what she wants, even though I'm decreasing in production?

Thanks so much.

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answers from Detroit on

Any time solids are introduced, breastfeeding is hindered. I never gave my kids any solid food til they were a year old...breastmilk only. She really doesn't need the cereal yet. As long as she is happy, has 6-8 wet diapers a day and is growing she is getting enough. Plus if she is hungry she WILL let you know. Keep up the good work...breast is best!

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answers from Houston on

My personal opinion is that it is too early to introduce solids to a breastfed baby. My opinion aside, you should be nursing her BEFORE you offer any rice cereal. Her primary nutrition should be coming from breastmilk and giving too many solids too early will affect your supply.

That being said, if she is truly teething...that can certainly affect how well she nurses. Changing positions can sometimes help...if you do a cross-cradle, use a football hold where you tuck her body along your side and cradle her head with your hand.

How have her bowel movements been since introducing the rice cereal?

She also may be getting frustrated with the decreased flow and let-down if your supply is truly dwindling. If you want to protect your supply, cut down/cut out the rice cereal and focus on the breast.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

If breastfeeding is important to you then you should stop rice cereal. I know 4 months is an ok age to start it, but obviously she's not eating enough breast milk, so its counterproductive. She needs not only the nutrition of breast milk, but also the fluids. She's too young for adding water (wait until 6 months before doing that). Keep track of wet diapers, did they go down? Up until 1 year old the MAJORITY of baby's nutrition should be from breast milk or formula, solids should be introduced as an opportunity to experiment with new tastes and textures, not the majority of nutrition. This is why I'm worried about your situation, she's now eating LESS.

Now about the teething. Yes that's probably bothering her and might be why eating cereal is more appealing then nursing. BUT nursing is better for her. You might need to feed her lots of smaller feedings throughout the day, at least every 2 hours, to get your supply up, and also to get her to intake more. Keep track of her weight and wet/dirty diapers, this will let you know if she's getting ENOUGH. Every baby is different, so you just want to see that she's growing, putting out enough and content.

Using a pacifier to get her to calm down after feeding is worrisome too. Kids can pacify themselves instead of eating (my first did this and ended up in a weight crisis), they don't always know how to self regulate. Around 3-4 months old kids can start getting distracted from breastfeeding, so you have to keep working with them. I think it took about a month for my second to get through this stage and stop getting on off on off on off throughout the feeding. Try to be sure the nursing environment is as distraction free as possible. Also try swaddling during the feeding, I had to do this with my second when she was about 6 weeks old, did it until about 3.5 months when she outgrew the swaddling blanket. She's go WILD and pinch/scratch me and flail about. The blanket got her to focus. She didn't LOVE it at first, but it did take away her ability to go crazy and made it easier to keep her on the breast and eating.

One last thing. As babies age they can eat faster, so how are you measuring that she's getting less, the time it takes for her to eat, your feeling of fullness, amount pumped? Breasts don't always feel engorged when they're full of milk, however if they're loose/floppy then your supply is low. Pumping isn't a great way to measure because babies can get more then you can pump, however if you're comparing what you used to be able to pump compared to what you pump now, then you can see if its more or less. Try to answer these questions in your mind to be sure she's getting enough. Also be sure you're getting plenty of fluids (at least 1/2 gallon) per day, eating balanced meals and getting sleep. What about your stress level? If your production is low that could cause her to be frustrated as well.

Breastfeeding is complicated and affected on many levels. I've learned a lot since my first one, she had lots of issues (bad latch, inefficient sucking, weight crisis) and so did I (cracked and bleeding, mastitis, mega stress, post par anxiety...) so when she had her crisis the doctor insisted on supplementing with formula and after that she refused to nurse. It was devastating and since that experience I learned about LOTS of things that went wrong all along the way. The second experience was completely different and successful and though we had some problems too it helped having knowledge and better advise to deal with them.

Best wishes!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jackson on

My advice is to stop giving her the cereal. There is absolutely no reason that she would "need" cereal...none. Any solid food a baby eats in the first year is nothing more than to taste and play with 99% of nutrition should come from breastmilk. 3TB is A LOT for a little tummy continues to expand after she eats it.

I am also going to whole heartedly disagree with a poster who said if she keeps pushing you away that may be a signal that she doesn't want to breastfeed anymore. Babies do not self wean prior to a year of is just against nature to suggest that (and seriously if you're not nursing you'll be offering a bottle what's the difference?? A babies instinct is to suckle that is what they are going to do!) most of them will continue to nurse until 2 if allowed to.

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answers from Nashville on

Definitely nurse her first. That is the biggest rule about nursing and solids. I was doing it backwards at first and had the same problem. A lactation consultant told me to nurse first. The current recommendation is 6 months for solids but 2 years ago, my doctor gave me the go-ahead at 4 and I really believe he was ready. I waited for a couple weeks after the go-ahead until my son acted the way your daughter did, milk wasnt enough. My son did great on solids and scarfed them up, to the point where he didn't actually spill any, he ate every last drop.

So what worked for us was to nurse first thing in the morning. If you are doing solids for breakfast, then those should be done about 20 minutes after the nursing. Don't space out the nursing and the solids too much, or it will spread your nursing sessions too far apart and reduce your supply. This is a touchy time when they first start eating. Cereal should be looked at as a supplement to your milk. Let baby get her fill on milk, then go get the cereal ready. Feed her however much cereal she needs to get full, but don't feed her past the full point. Then nurse on demand throughout the day like you normally would, and whenever it is time for the next solids meal, do it the same way. I don't think I introduced a second solids feeding for about a month, but I just took my cues from baby, when he was still hungry he got another one. Since it was about a month for us, I started doing veggies at that point since he was almost 6 mos old.

To boost your milk supply, oatmeal is good for you to eat for breakfast every day. Also the thing that helped me the most when my supply dropped once was to nurse both sides twice. I would put him to the first side, let him drain it, then the second side, drain it, then back on the first side until he pushed away, then the second side again. You have multiple let downs while nursing, and my son was able to get a little bit more from each side this way, plus it was the extra stimulation to tell them to make more. You can also try mother's tea and I personally used More Milk Plus capsules. I got them at Whole Foods or GNC. They are not long term use like the tea, they just give a boost. They have fenugreek and blessed thistle which are both milk-stimulating herbs.

Hope all that helps. If you keep having problems, you can always call and speak to a lactation consultant. I just called the one that I had a phone number for from my hospital paperwork. I didn't even have to see her in person, she was able to help me over the phone and it helped a ton. Good luck!

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answers from Detroit on

My boys all went through a similar thing around the same age. Likewise, I always felt the same way you did about intake, frustration, worry, etc - which then can hinder let down. The best thing for both of you is to not worry or stress over food. I know that is much easier said than done!

If I were you, I'd hold off on the solids until closer to 6 months, and try to increase your supply, if you're worried about it.

Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

I'd recommend breastfeeding on demand and dropping the cereal until you are sure your supply and her nutritional needs are in sync. Weight gain, general wellness, and plenty of wet and poopy diapers are how you judge if she's getting enough. If she nurses less, there will be less milk, and milk is what she really needs right now from you. Teething could cause her to pull off or fuss at the breast, but so could difficulties with latching. Have you considered coming to some La Leche League meetings so you can get to know other supportive BF'ing moms and arm yourself with more info? You can find a local mtg on Best friends in the world, believe me! Good for you for nursing your sweet daughter! It's the most wonderful gift you can give!



answers from Detroit on

I would call her doctor to be sure, but it sounds like your daughter is getting enough nutrients. My daughter wouldn't eat the baby cereal or any of the baby foods so I would take cheerios and soak them in formula mixed with water and spoon one into her mouth at a time. lol She also just ate right off of my plate (small, small pieces that she could mash with her gums and swallow)

Good luck!



answers from Gainesville on

I can't agree with Amanda C more!!! Here is a link that discusses why it's best to wait till at least 6 months because of the "open gut" babies have:

They tell us to wait for solids but never really tell us why and the above will give you that answer.

I would bet her teeth are bothering her in combo with the new feeding routine. 3 tblsp is a lot of cereal for a 4 month old. I still don't give my 23 month old more than 3 tblsp when I mix it in with her yogurt for her breakfast.

Nurse her first and foremost. Back off on the solids for now and get her thru the teething and get your supply back in order.

Best to you and baby!



answers from Los Angeles on

I had to start rice ceral for all three of my children at about 4 1/2 months as well. my daughter was just really petite and the doctors wanted her to gain a little more weight so they said start sooner. my boys both big at birth just wanted more to eat sooner and my milk wasnt satisfying them around that time. I agree with a lot of the moms nurse first, but beware that you may jsut be one of those people that if your demand dwindels even a little bit the supply is going to go way down. It happens sometimes. Plus if your feeding him rice ceral of course he is not going to want as much milk because he is full from the ceral. The ceral keeps him feeling fuller for longer than the breast milk. I think if you get through the teething and he is still pushing away from you unfortunatly that just might be his signal that he doesnt want to nurse anymore. My daughter and one of my boys got to a year and Istopped but one of my sons i only got to about 6 months and he decided he was just done with nursing. I bottle fed him breast milk as long as I could supply it but some baby are just like that, some really love it and would do it over food anytime others once they start to get a little bigger don't like it. Unfortunatly not all babys love to snuggle i know two women whos babies under a year refuse to be held and snuggled when they are trying to go to sleep it's unfortunate but it happens, you dont want to turn something as great as nursing into a bad experience for either of you. I would keep trying for a while and see how you do but if he is still pushing away I would try giving him a bottle just once and see what happens. if that eleviates his frustration then unfortunatly you might have to stop nursing sooner than you had hoped..Good luck and I hope it all works out for you.



answers from Tulsa on

I don't understand why you started the baby on cereal, was she nursing too much and not getting full? Was she crying all the time seeming hungry? Talk to your peditrician and discuss her hunger issues so that you can find a healthier option for your baby.

Cereal and other solids are for teaching a baby to chew so when they stop nursing they will be ready to transition to table food on a regular basis. Formula/breast milk=total nutrition
Cereal and baby food solids=minimal nutrition


answers from Barnstable on

I wouldn't introduce foods until 6 months. That said, nurse her FIRST - the Boob is Best.

I would also be wary of the pacifier as THAT can reduce your milk supply as well. Remember - nursing on demand - if she is sucking on a pacifier, she is not nursing on you. If she is not nursing on you, she is not triggering milk production.

I really would wait on the solids too.

Best of luck!

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