Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

Am I overfeeding my 5-month-old baby?

I am concerned that I am overfeeding my five-month-old daughter. I was been advised to start her on solids, but am getting confused about how much I should feed her and when. She is eating about two tablespoonfuls of vegetables and fruit twice a day. She weighs over fifteen pounds and still wakes for a breastfeed twice a night.

It is recommended that the babies are not given solids until they reach six months. However, as you have been advised to introduce solids before that, it is important that you ensure that your baby still receives a minimum of four to five full breast feeds a day. Milk provides your baby with the right balance of vitamins and minerals, and at her age it is important that the amount of milk she is getting is not reduced and replaced by large amounts of solids. Given your baby’s weight and the fact that she is still feeding twice in the night, we are fairly confident that she is getting the right amount of breast milk. As long as you allow your baby a full breast feed before you offer her the solids, you can be fairly sure that she will only take the amount of solids that she needs to satisfy her appetite. As she gets nearer six months at the 11am feed you can offer her one breast, then solids, then the second breast.
In the evening, we would advise that you give her one breast at 5.45pm followed by baby rice and fruit puree. Gradually increase the amounts until she is eating 4-5 teaspoonfuls of baby rice mixed with expressed milk or formula, plus one to two cubes of fruit. She can then be offered the second breast at around 6.45pm after her bath.

As her intake of solids increases, her need for milk feeds in the night should decrease. As a general guide, at between six and seven months, the majority of babies will need only three to four milk feeds a day, once they are established on three solid meals a day. While appetites do vary, most will be taking one-two tablespoons of breakfast cereal with fruit puree after their first milk feed in the morning, then lunch would about six tablespoons of vegetable/protein recipe, followed by a small milk feed or drink of water or well diluted juice in a beaker. A third milk feed should be offered at around 2.30pm, followed and the third solid meal in the evening would comprise five to six teaspoonfuls of baby rice mixed with expressed milk and two tablespoonfuls of fruit puree.

If your baby continues to wake up twice a night it is possible that the problem is being caused by a low milk supply in the evening. Expressing a little milk first thing earlier in the day and offering it after a full breastfeed at 10pm may help your baby sleep longer in the night. If this doesn’t help her sleep longer, we would advise that you try dropping the 10pm feed. When she wakes it is important that you give her a full feed and do not restrict the time she is on the breast. If then she sleeps through to nearer 6am, it would be sensible to consider dropping the 10pm feed altogether, as at least that way she is only waking once in the night. If you decide to drop the 10pm feed, it is important to understand that she may continue to need to be fed once in the night until she is well established on three meals a day.

If she continues to wake up twice a night once her solids are increased, and you are confident that she is getting the right amount of breast milk, it could be that the waking may be due to habit rather than hunger. The first time she wakes, it may be worth trying the core-night method for a few nights to see if she will settle back without a feed. If you use this method it is important that you do not attempt to eliminate two night feeds at the same time, and that you only continue using the core night method if your baby settles back to sleep quickly. More details of the core night method can be found on this link. It may also be worth reading the case study of Alexandra for further advice, although Alexandra is younger than your baby the advice on how to help establish a longer sleep in the night may be of help.