Feeding FAQ: 3-4 months – Formula Feeding

I want to use the routine but my 16 week baby cries during feeding and takes too little

Please help me with a problem that your books don’t seem to address and it seems nobody can solve, including health visitors. I have a lovely baby boy who is 16 weeks and only drinks 17-20oz of milk per day. He was born at 38wks – 6lb 7oz and is an Indian baby. He was breastfed for the first 8 weeks but developed colic and mouth thrush at around 4 weeks so, being inexperienced, I put him on the bottle. He was only feeding for 5-6mins every 2-3hrs on the breast and I was worried he wasn’t drinking enough.
Colic would make him moan and bring his knees up to his chest every morning around 6am. He sleeps now around 6 hours every night from 1-2am to 7am and only drinks 1-2oz at this time. He then sleeps for another 2-3hrs. I feed him every 4 hours and each feed lasts between 11/2-2hrs e.g. start at 12pm, he will finish 3-4oz by 1.30pm and I will feed again around 4-5pm. I should also mention whilst drinking I can hear loud rumbling noises in his stomach and he will kick and shout and stop feeding. He also pulls his hair whilst feeding and, although I make sure the teat is full of milk, he wants to feed on the arm of the sofa or a pillow. He drinks Aptamil for hungrier babies from 3months, after starting on Aptamil First. I use Avent bottles and teats (no.2) and have tried the faster flow Avent teat but it made him cry and choke. He doesn’t cry when he’s hungry like most babies but may moan a little. I feel like I am force feeding him most of the time. Should I change the brand of milk? I also do give him gripe water after most feeds. I forgot to mention that my son sleeps on his stomach as I was advised this would help his colic.

He weighs 13lb 9oz and seems to be very intelligent, alert and active. He naps every couple of hours for approx 30-40mins. In the last few days for a couple of hours but no difference to feeding amounts.
I want to get him into the contented baby routine but at 16 weeks where should I start if he only drinks 17-20oz per day? I eagerly await and gratefully appreciate any advice you may have regarding this matter.


I feel that your son should be seen by a gastric specialist as soon as possible. You must ask your doctor for a referral to try to find why your son has such a problem with feeding and taking so long with each feed. Aptamil Extra is a casein-dominant milk which claims to take longer to digest and is more filling. I personally feel it can be harder to digest, especially with a baby who appears to have digestive troubles. There are milks on the market such as Cow and Gate Omneo which can help an unsettled baby. This must be fed with a Variflo or medium-sized teat. Speak to your Health Visitor or doctor before changing his milk.

You may find that using a softer teat could help your son. I have had success with using a “Variflo” made by Tommee Tippee. This will fit onto your existing Avent bottle. There is also a Dr Brown bottle on the market which can prevent excessive amounts of wind being swallowed whilst feeding. Again the teat is softer and the flow is controlled by the baby’s tongue. Both might be worth trying to see if your son is able to take a little more milk at each feed.

You can also buy a product called “Colief” which is added to each feed to make it easier to digest. You will find it in most chemist shops which stock baby goods.

With regards to putting your son on to a routine: when he wakes for the 7am feed, try to get him to stay awake for a while. If you can let him have a free kick on the floor, with some brightly-coloured toys to look at he may not be so sleepy at this time. If he will stay up for 1.5 hrs that would be the start of a routine. Let him have a sleep until 10am and then stir him again for another feed. What you are aiming for is to have two short naps in the morning and mid-afternoon, plus a longer one over midday. At the moment it would seem your son has this longer nap in the morning and then shorter ones in the day. It may take a while to begin to change this, but I hope once his feeding is better he will be able to enjoy some times awake after a feed and settle to a longer sleep at lunchtime.

Begin to build a bathtime and bedtime routine into your day. Start about 6pm and give him a bath before offering him a bottle at 6.30pm. If he last fed between 4-5pm this may only be 2-3 ozs. Settle him into his cot for his next sleep and treat it like night-time after that. Feed him in a dimmer room, change him and settle him back to sleep.
By beginning to structure the beginning and end of his day – the 7am start and the 7pm end – you should begin to see a routine emerge. If you can get your son to have a longer sleep in the middle of the day you will be well on the way. It will take a while and you will probably need to follow a routine for a younger baby – perhaps six to eight weeks to begin with – and work your way up to one nearer your son’s age.