Feeding FAQ: 8-12 weeks – Formula Feeding

My 12 week daughter has started to refuse to finish her bottle feeds

I cannot get Anna to take the remainder of her feed any more. She has been happily feeding from a bottle since she was two weeks old. For the last ten days she will have half a feed (80mls) then refuse to have any more. I try and try over the next two hours to get her to take more, and eventually she will have taken 120mls. I start everyday afresh as I know that she is hungry having fed 3.5-4.5 hours before, but even then the problem is the same. By bedtime the problem is worse as she won’t take the full feed and is waking up 90 minutes after going down. This never used to happen.
She is constantly sucking on her hands and thumb, but won’t take a dummy or bottle. I think she is too young to be teething (although she is drooling a lot and blowing bubbles). Would this explain her behaviour, or could you suggest what else it could be? What can I do? She is still putting on weight (14lbs) and apart from being a bit grumpier she seems fine otherwise.

A baby who begins to feed less at 7am is showing all the signs she is ready to drop her middle of the night feed. Try to settle her with less when she wakes at 3.30am and see if this has the effect of her being hungrier at 7am. Look in The New Contented Baby Book to see how to drop this feed. Using the “core night ” method on page 148, you will see how Anna learns how to stretch herself in the night and drop the feed.
At present, Anna is never hungry for a feed as it is taking her so long to finish the feed before. This is also having the effect of her not increasing her daily intake which at her weight should be nearer to 35ozs. Once Anna has decreased her night feed she should be more willing to take 5-6ozs at 7am. Spacing out her morning feeds should also help. If she is fed at 7am, then push her next feed to 11am. At her age she is able to wait nearer to four hours between feeds and should be more ready to accept them.
Another way to help a reluctant feeder is to give her half a feed and then let her have a 20-30 min break. Use the time to change her and let her have a kick on the floor. Using this method along with stretching out her feeding times should help Anna take her bottles better. Even using this method, try not to let the feed last longer than 1hr so she will be hungry by her next feed time.
Once you find she begins to show more interest in feeding, increase her intakes at 7am, 11am and 5/6pm. The 2.30pm feed usually is best kept smaller. Keep split feeding Anna at 5/6pm as this will help her take more to see her through to 10.30pm feed. Feed Anna at 5pm and then give her plenty of kicking time before her bath, so again she will be hungry by 6.15 and more likely to finish her bottle.
When feeding Anna, beware of anything which may distract her. Babies of this age often are very interested in what is happening all around them. Feed her somewhere quiet, away from the TV, radio or other household noise which may well take her mind off feeding. After her bath, feed her in her room with the lights dimmed.
Give Anna plenty of floor time during the day. Encourage her to kick under a baby gym and help her roll from side to side. Let her spend time on her tummy when awake, so she practises raising her head and top body. This will all help Anna use some energy and have a better appetite. Take her out in the fresh air every day.
Although Anna is quite young to start teething, it is not impossible. The signs she is showing could mean that she could be feeling some discomfort in her gums. Try offering her cooled teething rings to see if that will help her, or a clean, cold, wet wash cloth to suck. See if you can see any redness on her gums which would indicate a tooth is just below the surface. Massaging them with a clean finger will help her as well.