How Do I Get My Baby to Drink His Formula?

Updated on September 24, 2010
I.J. asks from Monahans, TX
13 answers

My baby had heart surgery about a month and a half ago, he had a VSD. We were told by his doctors that he would be like a different baby after the surgery when it came to feeding . Before the surgery he would only drink about 1/3 to 1/2 of an ounce of formula and then fall asleep. This was because of his heart defect. Everything should be fine now but he only drinks 2 ounces at a time. He'll drink 2 ounces now and 1 or 2 ounces in an hour or two, then finally about an hour after that he'll drink another ounce. He should be drinking 4 to 5 ounces at every feeding. I am so frustrated! I've tried changing the formula, changing the nipple and bottle, the environment,etc... His pediatrician said to give him time to get used to drinking the 4 to 5 oz. His cardiologist seems worried but also wants to wait and see how he progesses. He is not crying or fussy he seems perfectly happy and full of energy that's why I can't figure out what the problem is.Has this happened to anyone else? Please help!

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answers from Houston on

In my opinion, your baby was so accustomed to drinking such a small amount that is stomach is tiny. It will take some time for it to stretch out to hold 4 oz. I would continue offering it to him & he will probably gradually build up to 4-5 oz.
1/3 to 1/2 oz of formula is a very small amount so the good thing is he has progressed to 1-2 oz. already.
I feel he will soon get his little tummy stretched out enough to hold 4-5 oz.
Im not sure how old your baby is, but at 6 weeks I started
Best Wishes!



answers from San Antonio on

Hi, you don't say how old your child is. However, my daughter was not big on milk/formula either. She ate very small meals, infact I don't think she ever had over 4 ounces even at a year old. As long as they are thriving that is the important thing. Also, take into consideration that your babies stomach is only used taking in 1/2 oz. at a meal, 2oz. is a lot more than that, and it takes time for the stomach to stretch and allow room for more content. He is making great progress, give it time and I am sure he will start eating more and more. Of course, if you are still woried and he is not gaining then you should consult your Dr. Good Luck



answers from Austin on

I., first of all, May God bless u guys as this is a very delicate baby and a special one too! I was reading your concerns and obviously you have a valid reason to be concerned because he is not eating what you think he should be. One thing my pediatrician always told me ,"They eat when they are hungry" just like that, end of story. And you know what, he was right, they are all striving and healthy. My daughter who is 12 months old, only had 4 oz of formula in a bottle feeding up until this last month, then she started taking 6 oz sometimes, not all the time. So he may not need more than what he is taking in and you don't want to force feed him because that too can make him sick, so be patient and let him dictate when he is hungry, this is a little frustrating because we want to know that they are doing what they are supposed to be but each child is very different, I know, I have 3. If he is happy then he has what he needs, so therefore there is no problem, always go with your motherly gut instinct, that is a still small voice in your head. I wish you much success and this too shall pass. God bless you, your son and your family!



answers from Washington DC on

I know this was a year ago but my now 2month old has a heart defect.she's about to get surgery in a few days.she also had a set back with drinking her formula.she would only tak an ounce every hour or so.the cardiologist now have her on higher calories and now feeding by mouth and thru a ng tube.I'm praying her surgery will b a success and her feeding will increase as well



answers from Houston on

Unless your baby is so skinny you are worried about his weight, I'd say you are doing everything fine. I breast fed my babies, so I can't tell you how much they ate, but I fed on demand. They were slender then, and are still slender, and they eat when they are hungry, not because the food is in front of them. Feeding on demand seems to be the way to raise children without weight problems or eating disorders. If he isn't dangerously thin, then he is getting enough food. Food doesn't seem to be a problem; good luck with his other health issues.



answers from Houston on

I know other babies who have gone through this as well. My husband had 'failure to thrive' but he was also only 26 weeks when he was born and had his first surgery within days of his birth.

I have cared for 50 or more infants and I found that occasionally I had a baby who was 'normal' but ate like your son eats. Sadly, daycares have a feeding schedule and if the baby doesn't eat when he's supposed to he has to wait until the next feeding time! No 'snacking' allowed.

I think you're doing a great job. Just keep watching his cues and feeding him when he's hungry. He'll get better. If you're not using the preemie/increased cal formula you might talk to his dr about that. You can either buy it or you can use regular formula and increase the powder (WIC doesn't pay for the preemie formula this is what they suggest.) I think I used 1 1/2 scoops for every 2 oz of water. If you use premixed formula you could ad 1/2 scoop powder to the bottle of premixed to increase cals from 20 cals per oz to 30 cals per oz.

If he's happy, I think he's getting what he needs. :)

Wishing you the best,



answers from Waco on

Hi Imenlda,
Your little guy has really gone thru a trauma with his little body. Let him take his time to adjust to his feedings- he will eventually take what he needs to maintain his health. listen to your dr's and let him adjust to his own tummy needs. It may be really hard on you right now with all the constant feedings but his little tummy is only about the size of your little toenail- it can't take in too much so let him tell you when he is ready for more.
good luck and blessings



answers from Corpus Christi on

Hi, I.,
I meant to thank you for sharing your experience with your baby's heart surgery. It is looking like our daughter will also have to have heart surgery.

Have you had any luck getting your baby to drink more formula? We're having trouble getting our daughter to drink much - it has helped switching to a "fast" nipple and changing formulas, but she still isn't getting as much as her doctors want her to drink.

I hope you all are doing well.


answers from Austin on

I really feel for you. We went through this with my son. Because he was breastfed, we couldn't tell how much he weighed. We ended up renting a scale, weighing him after every feeding, weighing the wet diapers, forced by our doctor to attend parenting classes and see a nutritionist. The doctor wanted me to do feedings every 2 hours, and MAKE him wake up, and accused my family of pressuring me to breastfeed, and threatened to call CPS if my son didn't gain weight. We switched to a different pediatrician, and things got better. But even so, we did not find out about the heart defect until my son was 4 years old.
After he had heart surgery at 4 years old, he immediately gained 2 pounds. Today at age 7 he is much more active, but is still in less than the 10th percentile for weight.



answers from Victoria on

some mommas will hold off and let there baby really get hungery so they will want the full amount at once. but adding the heart factor in i am not sure. does he still need to be burped if so that might be why he wont drink more than two at a time. so glad your baby is doing better. i pray he will grow healthy and strong. i did not see anything that had his age there either. are you still holding him while he drinks?



answers from Houston on

i would suggest putting him on a four hour schedule, theen he will eat more. right now you are letting him snack. be patient he is just getting used to eating w/o fighting his body to do so!! lotsa luck to you!



answers from Austin on

Have friends that went thru a similar situation. They learned to trust the baby to an extent. When he didn't want more, they let it be, offered more later, then let him rest. He never met those weight milestones, but is now a healthy 6 yr old and happy as can be! Please don't worry. Be watchful and aware of unusual behavior, but don't worry. Your baby sounds happy and calm. That is a good sign he is doing well.



answers from Houston on

I.-I hope you find some peace in the answers here. My daughter was breastfed, but never took more than 6 ounces at a time out of bottle (it was usually more like 4) and would go up to four hours between feedings at daycare. Every baby is different and processes their nutritional needs differently. It sould like your little guy is doing fine.

About 3 days after birth, your baby's stomach is about the size of a golf doesn't get a whole lot bigger very fast. Our own adult stomachs, before we've stuffed them, are only about 16 ounces in capacity.

So long as he is creating 4-6 wet diapers a day and 1 dirty, you probably don't need to be too worried. I actually bought a fisherman's scale from the sporting goods store and weighed my daughter weekly. It has a hook that you can hang a knotted blanket or sling on to lift your baby (just a couple of inches and over a soft surface). $20 can buy a lot of peace of mind for a worried mom.

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