Need Help with 4 Month Old Who Will Not Eat More than 3 Ounces During a Feeding

Updated on December 07, 2009
A.B. asks from Los Angeles, CA
20 answers

First, some background: She has a calm cheerful temperment. Goes down for naps without a problem.

We put her on Similac Sensitive formula (lactose-free) when she was 1 month old because she was very cranky and had streaks of blood in her poop when she was drinking a mixture of breastmilk and normal formula. Since then Ive occasionally tried giving her my thawed breast milk - but she cries after drinking it. So Im assuming she has a lactose issue. The Similac Sensitive has solved that problem.

Anyway, on to the current problem -- She refuses her formula after drinking 3 ounces. She lets it dribble out of her mouth, as if she is full.

Then, she is hungry 3 hours later. This feels like a feeding schedule for a 1 month old, not a 4 month old.
It's especially difficult because she is up at 11pm, 2am, and 5am. We've tried the various methods to soothe her - and the only thing she wants is the bottle (and I feel like I can safely assume she is hungry bc she is only eating 3 ounces at a time)

Does anyone know of some techniques I can try to get her to feed better -- or make it more possible for her to sleep at least 6 hours? Some friends have suggested rice cereal -- but with her previous stomach issues, Im not sure if I should try it.

Anyone with a baby on Similac Sensitive who transitioned to rice with no problem?
Or did you have a baby who passed the 3 month mark and was feeding this way? What was the outcome?

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So What Happened?

We are feeling better about things now. She is sleeping very well at night, and eating more. Several things all began to fall into line at the same time.

I should say first that she is bottlefed, and still drinking the lactose-free formula. And I did add some rice to her bottle, and she is digesting it fine.

The main change happened when I noticed that she began to favor one specific nipple. I did some investigating, and realized that its flow was different than all her other nipples. So I used a small blade to barely cut the other nipples, so that the flow matched the nipple that she liked. That made an immediate difference.

We also got very strict about sticking to a schedule, and that helped.

We also began to notice that while she eats only 3 ounces during the morning, she began eating more during each feeding as the day progresses. Now, during her two evening feedings (at 7pm, and a "dreamfeed" at 11pm) she is drinking 5-6 ounces. She still only drinks abour 3 ounces in the morning. But she is averaging 24 ounces total over the course of 6 daily feedings. My doctor said that falls well within the "normal" range.

Her weight is great. 50th percentile.

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V.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello Andrea. I don't have experience with this exact issue, but I did want to comment on the rice cereal reference. Rice cereal is the harshest on a baby's sensitive stomach, so if you are inclined to give her any cereal at all, I would recommend the barley or oatmeal. My son can't handle the rice, but has no problems with the barley and oatmeal varieties. Good luck to you :)

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

MANY babies, feed in this every 3 hours, or less, at this age. Its common.
She... probably hit a growth-spurt at 3 months (a typical growth-spurt age), and is still trying to make up for it by feeding more frequently in order to get in more intake.... and in light of the fact that she takes in only 3 ounces at a time. So, yes, she will feed more frequently. Each baby being different.

But, even big eating babies (like my son who had a ginormous appetite and drank like 6 ounces at this age & older), STILL FED EVERY 3 HOURS OR LESS... and "cluster=fed" at high growth/high development periods. This is also common.

And no, feeding her rice cereal will not stop the "problem" of her frequent feedings/wakings...and may also make it worse... or cause other problems or digestive problems. It is a myth, that feeding an infant cereal before 6 months old, will make them sleep like a rock all night. At 4 months old, their digestive system is not even fully developed yet.

What I would do is, burp her more often. Perhaps.... air/gas is making her "full" thus she only takes in only 3 ounces at a time. Or try a bottle that does not accumulate air bubbles in the bottle as the baby drinks.

4 months old... is still really young. With both my kids, they both fed every 2-3 hours at that age and older. Normal. AND they woke and fed more often when they were "cluster-feeding" or had spurts of growth/developmental changes/and hitting milestones. Normal.

I think, your baby is doing fine. She is feeding consistently and signaling when she is hungry, which is good, and at least she is not over-feeding and/or getting reflux. But, try asking your Pediatrician. But to me, well... that is normal baby behavior. Both my kids, at that age, woke at about the same times. ESPECIALLY at developmental changes and growth-spurt periods... this is when babies wake more. It will pass.

And like Jennifer S. said, both my kids did not sleep through the night either... until about when they were 2 years old. This, is a common natural pattern and progression in a child... per their development. But.. each child is different.

All the best,
Susan

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Not every baby will adapt to the text books on feeding and sleeping. My son is a grazer.. he always has been and he is JUST NOW at almost 2 sleeping through the night or waking once. I too tried ALL of the methods out there and the truth is that he just wasn't like the babies who the methods were developed around. At 4 months he may need to eat every 3 hours... at 31 years old I eat every 3 hours. It's the healthiest way to eat. Our metabolism is built to go for 2-4 hours at a time between meals. Yes, your child IS hungry at night... welcome to parenthood. Learn to enjoy the time that you have with your little one alone at night without all of the interruptions of daytimes. I HATED GETTING UP and there were nights that I was up 8 times a night with him, now that i'm on the other side I am so grateful that I hung in there...so can you :) and your baby will be all the better for it. Do not force your child to eat when not hungry or you may encounter other food issues later. I tried solids (rice cereal) at 4 months and my son hated that too ... and he just wasn't ready. When I tried again at 6 months he was more willing to take a few bites.

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J.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

NORMAL. I think many people have a misconception of how big their baby's stomach is and how often they shoudl be eating. Many people unknowingly overfeed their babies....and then when they are diagnosed with acid reflux - yya think? You fill up a 12oz glass with 14 oz, the overflow HAS to go somewhere!

Formula digests FAR slower than breastmilk. A breastfed baby can START digesting breastmilk in 90 sconds from hitting the stomach....not the same story with formula. Ab reastfed baby can eat every 20 minutes to every 2 hours....depending on different criteria.

As far as your baby, she sounds perfect....she knows when to stop, so she most likely will not be obese due to overeating....and she doesn't let her blood sugar get too low...every 3 hours seems right on.

Remember that when a baby is born, the size of ther stomach is the size of a marble.

When they are 3 days old, it's the size of a shooter marble.

By the time they are 10 days old, ther stomach is only the size of a ping pong ball.

It will stretch depending on how much food you give her at each feeding.

Sounds like you have a smart cookie there!

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E.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Andrea. My now 4 yr old was the same way. Although I breastfed her until she was 6 months old, she had to drink pumped milk out of a bottle at 4 months old when I returned to work. I remember having to put the breastmilk in 2 separate bottles at 3 ounces each because she never finishes more than that and I didn't want the milk to go bad. I used to worry that she's not eating enough. But, she was also eating more often (every 2 to 3 hours). And yes, that meant sleepless night also. Our pediatrician was not worried and said that some babies are like this (snacker). Sure enough, even to this day, at 4 years old, she still eats the same way. She doesn't finish her food and will be eating and picking at it again 2 hours later! I don't put away her meals. I just cover it because I know she will ask for it again in 2 hours. In the meantime, my 2 year old finishes her whole plate and won't eat again until next meal. I'd say don't worry about it. I know it's inconvenient but as long as she is healthy, it's okay.

One piece of advise, though, is to make sure you wipe your baby's gums and tongue with a wet cloth after feeding at night before she goes back to sleep (or even when she's already asleep). In other words, don't let the milk sit in her mouth as she sleeps. We weren't vigilant about this with our girl so at 2 years old, she had major cavities and had to have a baby root canal at 3 years old. Major guilt on our part.

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M.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Andrea,
Whatever you do, I would wait for another few months before you start her on rice cereal. I tried it with my daughter at 4 months and she got really constipated. So I waited until she was 6 months and gave her oatmeal.
Have you seen a doctor about it? Maybe her stomach can only hold that amount of food. I would look into it further with a doctor. If your ped doesn't feel it is something that needs to be looked into, then you tell him/her that you are the one who is waking up in the middle of the night to feed her. Go with your mommy instincts. If you feel like there may be something wrong, then push the doctors to feel your concern.
On another note, if you give into the bottle for her to fall back to sleep, then you have already created a huge problem. I have a wonderful on line book that I can forward to you (and anyone else who might need it) called "Sleep Sense Program". It's a wonderful book and has given me the tools to fix our family's bad sleep habits. I could go on forever about my daughters issues, but I would rather give you the book. Shoot me an email at [email protected]____.com and I will forward it to you. Good luck to you and I hope your little girl is a healthy and happy baby!
Happy Holiday's
M.

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M.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Andrea,
Have you talked to your doctor about acid reflux? My daughter (now 16 months) had a hard time with this in the first few months of life. I gave her a prescription medication twice a day and kept her upright/elevated during and for fifteen minutes after feedings. I also went to exclusively breastmilk at about three weeks. She grew out of the problem at about four months. Does she fuss as she is feeding? Goodluck, M.

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P.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

My 8 1/2 month-old breastfed baby eats that frequently and that little, but I don't personally know if any formula babies eat that way. They always seem to be eating more at a feeding than my baby, from what I've casually noticed. I'm not sure about that issue in general, but your baby sounds very much like a MSPI baby - milk and soy protein intolerance. It's not lactose, but the actual milk and soy proteins get into their gut and cause colic and screaming etc. She cried when you gave her breastmilk because you were eating dairy and soy and she couldn't handle it since they pass through breastmilk.

The similac sensitive has broken-down, predigested proteins that make them smaller and easier for the baby, but if she has real MSPI, it might not be allergen-free enough. You might have to up to ante to the completely soy and dairy free formulas like Neocate, Alimentum, or Nutramigen AA (not to be confused with normal Nutramigen Lipil which is the same thing as the Similac Sensitive you're already giving her - predigested, but not MSP-free).

This website might help www.mspikids.info

Good luck. I hope any of this was helpful.

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R.B.

answers from San Diego on

Have you 'up'd' the nipple size? What I have seen (with my babies and friends) is if they don't get the full amount in a shorter time, they will lose interest. At 4 months, she should be eating 4, 8oz bottles/day. I would work on the #2 or even #3 nipple size. (I consulted with a sleep expert and she recommended this to me). She should finish her bottle within 10-15 minutes. I think if she can do this, you will also see less wake-ups at night. Also, I started fruits and veggies at 4 months (consult w/your ped.) and added cereal at 6 months b/c it made my babies so constipated. Good luck!

M.V.

answers from San Diego on

Hi,

Here are some scenarios ranging from mild to worse case regarding your baby's feeding:

It may be as simple as she is getting a lot of air as she feeds and this may be causing her to feel full. You can tell by the way her tummy will appear after eating, is it bloated and tender and is she gassy afterwards?? Of course always make sure your baby feeds in an upright position so that things are flowing downward. And try a smaller nipple.

A major dont do... is rushing her into heavier foods so that she doesn't demand more feedings, she's still developing and should only eat what her little digestive system can handle...

Some babies tend to eat smaller amounts and more frequently.. 3-4 ounces gradually will increase to 6-8 by 6 months, gradually the appitite catches up to a normal range.

Although some doctors say it's ok that your child eats frequente small amounts and calls it "snacking" many digestive issues are simply ignored, acid reflux or digestive issues eventually show up..

Reg your breastmilk, you said you combined it with formula, the formula was the issue, it contains the lactose and if you have been consuming dairy products or spicey foods or foods like brocoli, ect., that cause gas , it's passed on into your breast milk....its very rare that an infant will have an allergy to breastmilk and is only responding to what you ate...

Worse case, she may have an intestinal blockage or a tummy that isnt formed properly so that only small amounts of food can be digested at a time.. Just imagine a drain in your sink, what happens when its clogged? It backs up and flows out the "mouth" of the drain. Much like what your baby is doing when she can't feed anymore and lets it dribble out her mouth instead of swallowing....

Dont settle for the doctor simply touching her tummy and "assuming" things are great...more times than not you have to demand they take a closer look at what is going on. In this case you need to take the perspective that this is not a normal food allergy, she is unable to digest the normal amount expected and this can be a serious issue.

Ether way its important not to give her heavier foods to free you up from the frequent feedings until her little tummy is really ready and you know she doesn't have digestive issues.....

I wish you and your family the best of health!

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P.V.

answers from San Diego on

Both my sons were hungry all the time and had the same feeding schedule as your little one. I tried mixing cereal with the milk and cut an X in the nipple of the bottle. This seemed to work fine. Is she lactose intolerant? When she had blood in her stool, did you have her checked? I know these seem to be unnecessary questions, but I hope this helps

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S.H.

answers from Las Vegas on

My daughter had some feeding issues. 3 ounces was great success with her. As others have said 3 hour feeding schedule is about right for a 4 month old. Be patient and keep at it. If you have a chiropractor in your area who works on babies have them look at her. Sometimes that helps. It did with my daughter. It took a long time and a lot of patience with her to get her to take more than 3 ounces and we had to fight to get that into her. Be careful with the rice cereal. My pediatrician was adamant not to put it in the bottle. He said if they can't eat it from a spoon they are not ready for it.

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A.D.

answers from Atlanta on

It sounds like you have a typical 4 month old. Unfortunately, you might just have a baby that will take a little longer to get to sleep through the night. I have a 3 month old and she only consumes between 2-3 ounces, but she would be good for 4 hours. Amazingly enough though she definately knows when bed time is. We put her to bed at 9pm and she doesn't wake until 4am so she sleeps very well. What we did when she was first born and still do is after about 6pm we keep her awake and try not to feed her until bedtime. Around 8:45 we give her a bath, feed her and put her to bed. We have been very strict in our routine since she was born and she caught on very quickly and was sleeping through the night at about 8 weeks. You may want to try and make sure she is hungry and fairly sleepy when you feed her for her nightime feeding that way she will eat to fill herself up and maybe she will sleep a little longer since she will be tired when you put her to bed. Other than trying that, you may just have a typical 4 month old. It seems like 3 ounces is a good amount at a feeding for that age, but I guess it could depend on your babies weight also. Hope this helps.

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J.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Have you discussed with your doctor- perhaps you need to see a specialist... Rule out any gastric problems first?? I had to do that with my son....

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J.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi.
I am having the same problem. I have a 4 month old girl. We had strings of blood in her poop as well when she was about a month old. I changed my diet and took wheat and dairy out and that seemed to do the trick. I don't think you have lactose in your breast milk. But since she has a sensitive stomach I would look into feeding her for her blood type when she starts to eat solid food. Try to Stay away from corns (corn starch,corn syrup) , wheat and most dairy, Anyways my daughter is only eating about 3 ounces bottles now too. I was just told today...to switch to a number 2 nipple on the bottle. Their bottles get bigger, but they get bored...and the milk isn't coming out fast enough so they just get over it. And to not feed her solids until she is at least 5 months old. Their digestive system isn't ready for solid food yet. So we are going to try that and see how it goes. It worked for a few of my girlsfriends.
Good luck :)

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V.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son was the same way. He was drinking 3 ounces every 3 hours for quite some time. My friend's daughter was drinking 7 ounces at 4 months. He is now 10 months old and drinks 6 ounces every 4 hours. I spoke with the pediatrician about it and she said that every baby is different. She said to just go with his appetite and as long as his weight it OK, not to worry.

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R.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter had lactose issues too. Serious ones...projectile vomiting almost immediatly after drinking regular formula. I used soy formula made by Similac sounds like that is what you are doing. The rice cereal is very easy on the baby's stomach. I would introduce a small amount into the formula a teaspoon or so into the 3 oz of formula. Baby's stomach is very small, but during the day at first and see if the nap periods are longer, and to be sure if there is any problem that it is during the day not when you are more sleep deprived. If it works then just at evening feeding, not every feeding. That is what I used to get my daughter to sleep a little longer during the night. Cereal takes a little longer to digest so that should help. BTW- rice milk is used as another alternative for people who are allergic to lactose so I think this may be your answer. But remember, all babies are different, what works for one may not work for another. Check with your childs doctor before you try anything new. Wish you all of the best! P.S. Steal a couple of short naps during the day when your baby is sleeping so the night feedings are not making you so tired til you get this all sorted out.

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B.B.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

this is normal. she is supposed to feed every 3 hours at least still. i would talk to the pediatrician before giving her any other foods since she has digestive issues, and talk to him about her feedings. most kids don't sleep through the night until at least 6 months, and even then its usually only 6-8 hours at a time. people seem to have an unrealistic idea of how babies should sleep. just as an example, my first slept for around 8 hours at three months, my second not until he was 18 months (he also has food issues and was diagnosed with a hyper-metabolism, so was literally starving all the time, ate every 1-2 hours for the first 6 MONTHS!!!), and my last at around 6 weeks. now (my last who is 8 months) he is up every four hours again because of a growth spurt. each baby is different and has different needs. talk to your ped., but my guess is he's going to tell you the same thing.

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M.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son had and still has the same problem. And is now almost a year old! I put him on enfamil soy if you start off slowly with rice cereal first, maybe not even and ounce or two, of formula and cereal mixed it might help her sleep but you might still have the same problem of not eating much. But don't worry every baby eats differently if it still is concerning check it out with the doctor but my son was only eating three ounces every three to four hours until about 6 mnths and doctor said not to worry. And like I said he still at almost a year, doesn't sleep more than 5 hrs at a time. Hope that helped

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S.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

didn't have a chance to read the other responses but you didn't mention his weight...as long as his weight is normal, don't worry about it. :)

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