Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Formula Feeding

Henry is four months and irritable between feeds, and too sleepy at 10pm

Henry is four months and he is more irritable between feeds, whereas before he was content. Up until the last week he has been contented between feeds, happy to sit in his chair and ‘play’ with his toys, only crying for food and sleep. However, he now seems to cry more in between feeds, I find the afternoons difficult as he is now tending to cry until he is picked up. Up until now we’ve deliberately tried not to hold him for lengths of time to avoid this problem occurring! I wake Henry at 7am, and he normally wakes happily. Again, up until recently, he was sleeping through from his last feed at 10.15pm to 7am, but he has been crying out (I wouldn’t really say he has been waking up completely) sporadically during the last week. When waking him at 9.45/10pm for his last feed (which we’ve started to bring forward from 10.30pm as per CBB instructions during the last 10 days) he seems to be in such a deep sleep that he doesn’t open his eyes and starts to scream and cry. The routine to waken him, which he has always responded to well up until now, is for me to unbutton his sleeping bag, turn the light and radio on low, and I potter around until he is awake. We leave him to cry, but he seems to get himself in such a state that we end up picking him up to cuddle him. This works two ways – he will either open his eyes, stop crying and be fine, or he’ll continue to keep his eyes shut, and cry until he eventually wakes. Once he is awake from either method he is always seems happy. I feel I’m waking him when he doesn’t want to be! But according to the CBB routine he must still have this feed until he is 4 months (which he now is) and on solids (which he isn’t). Why isn’t he finishing all of his feeds? Prior to Christmas I could guarantee Henry would finish each bottle. Now though after 5oz he gets distracted and sometimes will not take any more, or he’ll finish the bottle but it’s a struggle, he tends to keep putting his fingers in his mouth. This seems to be the opposite signal to what you would expect if he was ready for weaning. Is it because he isn’t satisfied by milk alone? – but surely if that was the case he would still finish the bottle? I look forward to your advice on these points.

Henry is beginning to need a little more stimulation between feeds now that he is 4 months old. His vision is much better than in the early weeks and his hand to eye co-ordination is much more refined. Encourage his development with some different forms of entertainment. Does he spend a lot of time on the floor? Does he have a baby gym which will encourage him to grab and pull on the toys? Give him time on his tummy, which will strengthen his neck muscles and prepare him for crawling. If he has not spent much time on his tummy up until now, he needs plenty of encouragement, with short spells throughout the day. Help him to push up on his forearms by placing a baby mirror or eye-catching toy in front of him.

When he is on his back, roll him from side to side to encourage him to begin to move himself. If he wants to, let him “stand” whilst you hold him upright and he will probably bounce with his legs for a short while. Although rightly, you want Henry to amuse himself for periods of time, he needs different places to “play”, not just in his chair. Try to vary his position and view throughout his waking times.

Waking babies at 10pm can sometimes be difficult and it is easy to think that they are just not interested in feeding. Whilst he may be able to cope without much of a feed now, cutting it out too soon often results in babies beginning to wake earlier in the morning or going back to needing a middle of the night feed. Until he is well onto solids he really needs the amount of milk he is taking in 24hours. As long as he continues to settle well after the 10pm feed and need waking at 7am, it would be better to carry on the way you are. It can take a good 15-20mins before a baby wakes at this time. But it is well worth letting him come round properly, even if you feel he is distressed about being woken, as he will then feed well.

I noticed that Henry is still using a one month teat. This could be the cause of his disinterest in feeds. He is having to work too hard to get the milk out and gives up before he has finished. Buy one pack of the next size and see if things improve. If he still seems to lose interest I suggest you try a Variflo type. This teat allows him to feed at his preferred rate without him having to work too hard, or be choked by too fast a flow. It sometimes takes several tries with different sizes and types to find one to suit him.

Henry also is of the age when he can become easily distracted in a feed, especially once his initial hunger has been satisfied. Try to keep feed times quiet, possibly away from the bustle of the household. Concentrate on him, resist using the phone and try to use the time to relax yourself and have a quiet time whilst feeding.

Henry sounds a happy baby who is doing well, he is beginning to grow up a little now and has different needs from a younger baby. If you sense that weaning is approaching and you decide to wean before six months because he seems ready, discuss the options with your health visitor.