Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

How do I structure milk and solids to help my 4.5 month sleep through?

My daughter slept through the night from 12 weeks on for about 2 nights a week on average. I was hoping that once I introduced solids she would sleep through consistently. I started her on baby rice at 17 weeks and when we moved the 2tsp rice to the evening she slept through for 5 nights in a row. Then she suddenly started waking again between 5:30- and 6.30am. Because it was so close to 7am I resorted to give her the dummy because she fell asleep straight away until woken at 7am. I also introduced the dummy in the afternoons, where she gets really fretful sometimes, to calm her which worked. So she has been used to the dummy for about 4 weeks now. Suddenly she started waking around 4am and I refused to give her the dummy then, because I think it will just make things worse. I am sure she doesn’t wake because of hunger because she hardly takes 6oz at 7 or 7.30am.

My other problem is that I can’t get her to take full bottle-feeds. She will take 5oz happily but the rest is usually a struggle. I usually try to feed her the rest 20min later so she will sometimes get 7oz but she also brings up a little milk a few times after the feed, so I am afraid of overfeeding her. I hoped that when I reduced the amount at 10.15pm she would take more in the morning and we were down to 6.5oz at 10.15pm but she still only took 6oz at 7:30am. For 10 days now she is waking nightly but still takes no more than 6-7oz with a struggle in the morning. I have taken the 10.15 pm feed down to 4.5oz but she still takes no more at 7am. The last 3 days I tried controlled crying when she wakes, and I am not giving the dummy at all anymore. She still wakes at night (usually after 3am). Her daytime naps are good, sleeping at 9-9.45am, 12-2.15pm, 4.15-4.35pm

I try to feed 4-5oz at 5.30pm followed by 4tsp rice mixed with 1 cube pear or apple as suggested in the weaning guide. After the bath at 6.45pm she takes anything from 2-4oz. She is always very tired then. I even tried putting her down earlier (6.50pm), but she is still very tired even with her 20- or 30min nap in the afternoon. I fed her on Cow and Gate formula for hungrier babies, but on my search for answers to her probably not taking enough milk and not sleeping through, I read the case study of Antonia 12 wks and I realized she shouldn’t be on that formula, so I switched to SMA Gold. The nursery is pitch-black and the only noise are the birds outside in the morning.

She takes on average 30-34oz a day (without rice). She weighs 15.14lbs. Should I begin to increase her night-time rice to 5tsp as stated in the plan? Or should I stick with the solids she has now, waiting for her to catch up, or reduce them to see if she takes more milk? I am scared she will wake even more then. I have not fed her before 7am since 16.5 weeks because after waking she was always happy to lie in her cot once I got her up and didn’t take a full feed. Because I started controlled crying, I increased the amount I give at 10:15pm to 6oz again.

The amount of milk your daughter is drinking in the day is about the average amount for a baby being weaned onto solids. The milk used to mix her rice counts towards the daily total. Until she is onto more solids she will still need her 10pm feed. Getting her to take slightly larger feeds in the day may help her get through the night better, but it appears not to be a hunger problem, more one of settling herself back to sleep in the early hours.

It may be worth changing her teat to a Variflo for Avent bottles rather than no3 which may be flowing too fast for her. She is able to control the flow better with a variable teat and this could encourage her to take more. Continue to use a 20 min gap when feeding her, as some babies do not like to take the whole feed in one go. If you can get her to take between 5-6 ozs at her feeds she will getting enough milk by day.

Increase her solids very slowly and watch that her milk intake does not drop any more. Always offer her the milk first so she takes only the amount of solids that she needs, and will not cut back too quickly on her milk intake. During this first month of weaning any solid food you give is in addition to the milk, not a replacement for it, so be guided by your baby who appears to have a smaller appetite than some and may increase at a slightly slower rate. Increase her rice at 5.45pm but only if she continues to take 3-4 ozs milk at 6.45pm. Bring her bath time forward to 6.15pm and see if she is less tired and more ready to feed about 6.30pm. Putting her down slightly earlier should help her from falling into an exhausted sleep.

At 10pm keep her up slightly longer than at present, which only seems to be about 15 minutes. Make sure she is fully awake before offering her the bottle. Give her a short break of 15-20mins halfway through and let her have a quiet kick. Once changed, lower the lights and finish the feed. If this has the effect of her waking less early in the morning then continue to follow this routine. Once she has been sleeping nearer to 7am for at least a week then you can begin to cut back by 10 minutes or so every few nights, until she is only up for about 30 minutes.

Ensure that she is well tucked in at night, using a sheet lengthways over a lightweight sleeping bag so you can be sure that her waking is not due to her waking herself up with her Moro reflex which could still be quite strong. As she still is having a 10pm feed and not desperately hungry at 7am, getting her to settle using controlled crying is your best option.