Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Formula Feeding

My son is 19 weeks and has suddenly and drastically reduced his milk intake

My 19-week old son sleeps well at night (from about 8pm to 7am), although I have to wake him and give him a full feed at 10-11pm. The problem is that up until three weeks ago he was taking 6-7 oz at each of his five milk feeds. However, over the space of about five days, he began to take less and less, and was down to about 2-4 oz from each bottle, except the last one at night which he usually finished. Nothing seemed to work to get him to drink his milk again – he would cry if I even brought the bottle near his face. I decided to try mixing some with baby rice and he took that fairly easily. Over the last two weeks I have introduced solids three times a day after his milk feeds in an attempt to try to get him to eat a bit more. He is almost exactly the average weight for his age, and takes his naps and sleeps well at night. What I am worried about is how to get him to drink enough milk. He seems much happier eating his solid foods than taking his bottle, and I always offer the bottle before the solids – he is still on five feeds a day. Why would a baby take against the bottle? Is it a mistake to have introduced three solid meals a day so quickly?

Joel’s sudden uninterest in milk could be down to lack of hunger. Often a baby suddenly just is not so hungry at the times he has been following for the past few months. Rather than trying to get him to take the bottle and meeting with resistance, wait for 20 minutes or so, engage him under his gym or on a play mat and then offer it to him. If he then takes more than he has been, you have solved the problem. The fact that Joel cried when he saw the bottle would seem to point to this.
Although Joel is sleeping well at night now after 10pm, his dramatic decrease in daytime milk could well cause him to start waking in the night needing more milk. As you began solids when he was 17 weeks old, the way they are introduced and the quantities given are very important. If you follow the plan laid out in the Complete Guide to Weaning, you will see that at his age he should still be getting most of his nutritional needs from milk, with the solid foods just being tastes of different vegetables and fruit and a little bit of filling from baby rice. Solids at this age are very much in addition to his milk not a replacement for it. Between five and six months he will begin to decrease his milk intake slowly as the solid food begins to replace it and more milk is used to mix cereals and add to sauces.
As a rough guide, by five months a baby should be taking 3-4 tsp rice and 2 tsp of pear puree at 6pm. At lunch he should have 3-4 cubes of a suitable vegetable.
Although he appears to enjoy his solid food, having too much without enough milk as well could cause him to become constipated. At his age he needs at least 20ozs a day of milk.
If you begin to structure Joel’s solids in guidance with his age, he should begin to accept his milk feeds again.