Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

I’ve introduced baby rice and would like to drop the 4am feed for my 5 month baby

My daughter is 5 months old with a brother of nearly six years. She weighed 2.1kilos at birth and now weighs 7 kilos. She has always been fed by bottle as she was in an incubator for a month and initially tube-fed. As breast feeding was not possible I used a breast pump and she was exclusively bottle-fed my breast milk from day one till she was ten weeks old when we switched to formula. The formula was a premature baby formula (as advised by hospital) but is now Similac Advance (we don’t live in UK).
Her routine now is that she has 80mls of milk at 7am, depending on whether or not she’s fed at 4am. At 10.30am she takes 150-180ml of formula. At 2pm she has150-180ml. At 4.30pm she has 60ml (sometimes she skips this one). Then at 6pm she has 180mls (or, if she’s had a little at 4.30pm then 120mls). At 11pm she has150-180ml. Then at 4am she has 120mls (sometimes she skips this and sleeps till 6am but usually she wakes up for feed around 4am).
In the last week we’ve started giving her baby rice once a day at 10.30am which she seems to like.
She’s awake from 7-9am, 10am-noon, 2-4pm, 4.30-6.45pm or 7pm. She is awake, jolly, lively and happy during waking times. She sleeps more than other babies and has done since birth but seems to be fine with this. Her brother has always slept more than average too, and I’ve always put it down to the amount of energy he expends when he’s awake: a lot!
Daytime naps are 9-9.45 am, noon-1.45pm, 4-4.30pm and she goes to bed and usually uses dummy to get to sleep but never complains when it falls out. Night time she just lies chatting on her back in bed until she dozes off about ten minutes later – lucky me!
She has never been unsettled for any reason other than hunger – and when she feeds she is pretty quick and efficient, goes straight back to sleep. Her night-time waking begins at 11pm – if she doesn’t wake up for feed we wake her up and she’s fine – happy, eats and then after burping goes back to sleep in her bed (no dummy). The she wakes up often around 4am for a quick feed and back to sleep again (no dummy).
Looking at my daughter’s feeding routine, is there anything you can suggest to help her drop the 4am feed? And can you tell me which time of day is best to try out the baby rice? We’ve been giving her one rice feed a day at 10.30am but I was wondering if it’d make sense to make it later? Also, today she woke up at 4am, drank about 150mls (I have been trying to make this feed smaller but she really wants the whole thing), didn’t want to drink any milk at 7am when she woke up, was given the baby rice at 10.30am and then didn’t want the milk feed. Is that normal? Should she skip the milk feed if she’s eaten the rice? I was surprised as this means she had no milk – only rice – from 4am – presumably 2pm (that’s her next feed). I’m a bit confused by the milk/rice/milk and would like to know what you think about it.
Otherwise all I can say is we’ve been following your routines since she was a couple of months old and she is – and has been every day – a very very contentedbaby – thank you! I wish I’d had your book when my son was born.
Many thanks,

Until your daughter is taking slightly more solid food, I think she needs her 4am feed as her daily intake is on the lowish side for her weight. I would suggest that now she is used to taking baby rice, you move it to 6pm. As she doesn’t always take a lot of milk then, especially if she has some at 4pm, it would be better to stagger the rice and milk a little. I would give her 4ozs of milk at 5.30/5.45pm followed by her rice. Move her bathtime to nearer 6.30pm and give her another 2ozs to settle at about 7pm.
Once you have moved the rice to 6pm begin to introduce pear purée, about 3-4 tsp at 10.30/11am. Give it to her once she has taken her milk. By introducing fruit and vegetables you will prevent any possible constipation which can occur when a baby is fed rice only.
For a full detailed weaning plan see The Contented Little Book of Weaning.

Once you begin the rice at 6pm I would give water or well diluted juice at 4.30pm so she is hungry for her solids and milk. After a few days of having rice at 6pm and beginning to have fruit and vegetables at 10.30/11am try to cut back on the 4am bottle again. Give her 15mls less for a few nights and see if she can settle back until 7am. Gradually cut it every few days, with hopefully an increased interest in the 7am feed. Have you ever tried to settle her with water before offering milk?

It is important that you offer your daughter her milk first before giving her rice or fruit. As she is only beginning to wean she still gets the majority of her calories from milk and must not cut back too hard on it yet.