Feeding FAQ: 8-12 weeks – Formula Feeding

My 8-week-old won’t take enough at feeds by day now she is sleeping through

My daughter has been on the routines since she was 2 weeks old and has been a dream baby since then – she really is very contented. She has been sleeping through the night since she was 7 weeks old; she generally gets to between 6am and 6.45am from around 11.30pm. Obviously we were delighted and amazed by this as it was very early.
The problem is that this seems to throw the daytime routine out. We either feed her at 6am and put her back down until 7.30am when we try and feed her again, or we get her up and start the day if it’s nearer to 6.30am. Either way she doesn’t take enough food – often just 3oz – and we often end up feeding her again just before we put her down at 9am. This means she isn’t very hungry for her 10-10.45am feed which throws the daytime nap into chaos, with her waking up hungry within about 30 minutes of being put down. That’s even when I try to give her a top-up feed at about 11.45am.
She tends to get back on track in the afternoon and is really good at kicking and playing on her mat, then she has a small sleep in her pram about 4.30pm. I feed her at 5pm, but by the time she’s out of her bath at about 6.10pm she’s hysterical. Then she has a real fight with the bottle; it can often take us 30 minutes to get her to take her food. Now she has started taking less so she wakes during her 7-10pm sleep too – something she has never done before – we feed her and try to get her down quickly – but if she has another hysterical fight with the bottle again it can take up to an hour to settle her, feed her and get her back to sleep. We get her up between 10pm and 10.30pm when she is generally calm – she takes a little food and goes down well.
It’s the daytime sleeps I’m worried about and this new habit of fighting like mad with the bottle – often to the point where she gets too upset to feed at all – even though I am certain she’s hungry.
Both these traits are very unusual for her, and the only thing that has changed with her routines is her dropping her night feed. The other thing is that she does seems more windy than usual, but can burp and fart quite happily.

At present she takes feeds at 6.30am 3oz, 8.30am 3-4 ozs, 10.30am 3-4 ozs, 12.20pm 2ozs, 2pm 3oz, 5pm 3-4ozs, 6.15pm 4-5 ozs, 7pm 2ozs, 10.30pm 4ozs, 11.30pm 1oz. She weighed 11lbs three weeks ago. She uses an Avent bottle with a size-2 teat, will move to size 3 this week. She sleeps from 9-9.40am, 12.00-12.30pm 12.45-14.30pm, 4.30 nap.

Your daughter has indeed done well to sleep through at this age. Getting her to take slightly bigger feeds by day and settle better for naps will happen with a bit of restructuring. Often a baby who is overtired will not feed well and therefore not sleep well at the next nap and a vicious circle emerges.

As your daughter is not over-hungry at her waking time of 6/6.30am, try to settle her with a small drink of water to nearer 7pm. Often at this time in the morning just resettling with water, a cuddle, tucking in tight will get a baby through to 7am when they are ready to feed. If she will not settle without milk, then reduce the amount to 1-2 ozs so she will have a larger bottle at 7/7.30am.

Some babies do need a break mid-feed in order to take a full feed. Your daughter in a way is doing this herself by only taking 3-4 ozs at a time, rather than nearer 5oz which would be a realistic amount given her weight. You just need to restructure the timings a little so she has fewer feed times.

When she is given her 7am feed, if she has managed to settle earlier without milk, let her have about 2.5oz before giving her a break of 20 minutes. Let her have a kick on the floor or top and tail her ready for the day. Then offer her the rest of the feed. This should mean she takes nearer to 5ozs and should not need a top-up before going down at 9am. Feed her about 10.30am in the same way, with at least 20 minutes between the two halves of the bottle. If she has had milk before 7am with a 7.30am top-up she will need half of this feed at 10am followed by the second half at 10.45am.

Still continue to offer the top up feed before she settles to sleep at 12. Be aware of getting her down for this nap before she is too tired. If you need to begin to wind her down by 11.30am then do so and have her settled by 11.45am if needed. An overtired baby will not fall into a restful sleep. Make sure that her room is dark and even if in a sleeping bag it is a good idea to tuck her in with a sheet to prevent her Moro reflex disturbing her when she enters her light sleep.

Keep the 2pm feed to no more than 4ozs and encourage her to have a nap of at least 20-30 minutes before 5pm. If the lunchtime nap went wrong then let her have a catnap about 3pm of 15 minutes and another one between 4.30 and 5pm. This should help with her being overtired after her bath. Bring her bath time forward to nearer 5.30pm. The first half of her feed may begin a little earlier than 5pm. Keep things at bath time as calm as you can and sit in a quiet, dimmed room afterwards to help her take a good feed before settling. Use a CD of soothing music to help both of you relax at this time.

The size teat you are using may also be why she finds it hard to take a full feed and fights the bottle, especially when she is tired. Look for the Variflow made by Tommee Tippee which will fit in a Avent bottle and she can then regulate how much milk she takes in. This may help at the feeds she fights when tired and help her be more settled generally by day.
As your daughter has slept through quite early it is tempting to try to push her into a routine by day which she is not quite ready for. By giving her a few split feeds by day she should take in the same amount of milk but at more regular intervals.