Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

I’ve just started weaning 4 month Abigail and she won’t eat anything but pear

I have just started to wean Abigail (I started 7 days ago), but I can’t get her to eat anything but pear. She will eat baby rice only with pear in it. I’ve tried her with carrot, but she won’t eat it. How do I get her to eat vegetables? I’ve read the case study in the weaning book, but I can’t even get Abi to eat baby rice on its own, so I can’t follow the advice in the case study. I have a 3 year old who is a fussy feeder and has a very sweet tooth. I am keen to avoid this with Abigail !!
Abi is formula-fed on SMA gold. She has just cut her morning milk back from around 8-9oz to around 6oz in the last 2 days. IN all other respects she is a perfect contented little baby.
I would love some advice!

Abigail is still in the very early stages of weaning. At this time she is just beginning to get used to the feel of a spoon and learning how to suck food off it. Although you are right to want her to get used to a range of tastes go very slowly with their introduction.
If she likes pear try mixing a very small amount of carrot into it, and see if she will accept it. Gradually, over a period of days increase the amount of carrot and decrease the pear. Try this also with the baby rice. When making up the rice make sure it is quite sloppy and easy to suck off a spoon. If the mixture is too thick Abigail may find it hard to move it to the back of her mouth, ready to swallow.
Most of Abigail’s nutrients still come from her milk and it is important in the early days of weaning not to expect your baby to eat any large amounts. First she needs to learn about different tastes and textures, and how to get food off a spoon.

Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

At what age should I wean my five-month-old twins who were born prematurely?

My twin girls will be six months old at the end of this month, but since they were born two months prematurely, I’m not sure when to start weaning. They weigh around 6.5-7kg at the moment and their daily milk intake is around 700-750ml. I know it is less than the required amount according to their weight, but they seem to be gaining at a steady rate. At the moment they consider a full feed to be 150ml, which they take five times a day. Should I wait to start weaning them until they are capable of drinking 180-240ml at each feed?

You seem to be fully aware of the weaning guidelines. A baby needs to be taking full feeds, which are considered to be 240mls. You are probably aware that at six months a full term baby needs to be given protein to help boost the dwindling supplies of iron laid down at birth, but as your daughters were born prematurely their needs are slightly different. I would suggest discussing your concerns with your doctor or health visitor. They will be able to assess the individual needs of each of your girls, taking into account their prematurity, present weight and milk intake, as well as their physical development in terms of their ability to hold their heads upright when sitting in a chair. These are all important and individual issues.

Weaning the girls before they are ready, especially as they have a lower than average milk intake, could mean they begin to cut back further on milk because of the solids given. The first stage of weaning is about tasters and fillers, but milk continues to be the main nutritional source and it is important that the intake stays at the appropriate level.

Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

I am concerned my 5 month daughter will start to wake up in the night, as her milk intake has been going down since starting nursery.

My daughter, who is just over five months and weighs 5.8 kilos, has just started day care. She seems happy there, but her routine is not always followed, and her milk intake is going down. I am planning to introduce solids this weekend, which means we will probably take out the 10pm feed. My main fear is that she won’t sleep through the night once I do that, because of not eating or napping well at nursery. My other concern is how will she cope at nursery once I introduce solids if she doesn’t drink enough formula? Her present feeding and sleeping is what she does at home, but it changing now as a result of the broken naps at nursery.

  • 7.15am – 140/180mls

  • 9.00 – 9.45am nap11am – 100/120mls (at home up to 170mls)

  • 12noon – 2pm nap

  • 2.30pm – 160/180mls; 6pm – 150mls

  • 4.00pm – 4.15pm

  • 6.45pm – 50/70mls (split feed after bath)

  • 10pm – 60/100mls

The first week or two of solids are about introducing your baby to different tastes and textures. The amounts given are small and just tasters and fillers. The weaning guidelines recommend that, before starting to wean, your baby is taking four to five full feeds a day (240mls) and is showing signs of being hungry well before the next feed is due.

As your daughter is over five months old and is still not on full feeds, ask the advice of your doctor or health visitor as to the best time to begin. Although on the small side, she is taking more than the recommended minimum daily amount of 600mls, so your health visitor may suggest you begin now in readiness for her being given protein at six months. When you do decide to begin weaning, make sure that your daughter does not cut back further on her milk intake. Her main nutritional supply is still her milk. Ask the staff at nursery to ensure she takes a minimum of 130-140mls at each feed. Explain that not enough milk will result in her being a less settled and happy baby. She may need a short break while feeding, especially if she is distracted by what is going on in the room, but this is not an unrealistic expectation on your part.

Once you begin to wean, it would be sensible to keep the 10pm feed in place for a short while. Even if your daughter only takes around 60mls at this time, she will need it to get her through the night, especially if her daytime intake is lower. Once she is better established on solids, and the late feed is only ever 60mls with no signs of her waking early, then you can cut it out. Remember, at this age solids are given as an addition to milk rather than a replacement, so she must be offered her milk feed first before being given solid food. This will prevent her from cutting back on her milk too soon, having filled herself up with solids. You must also make this point clear to nursery staff.

It may be difficult to get your point across about sleeping issues, as the nursery are coping with a number of small children, but you are well within your rights as a customer to ask them to follow your routine for feeding and weaning. If you are aware that your daughter has not had her full amount of sleep on nursery days, then put her down 15 minutes earlier in the evenings. At weekends you may have to allow her another nap in the afternoon before 5pm to make up for the disturbed lunchtime sleep.

Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

Why does Gina advise introducing first solids at the 11am feed? Many of my friends who have weaned their babies started doing so after the first feed in the morning or after the 2/2.30 pm feed?

To establish a healthy pattern of three solid meals a day, it is important that milk and solids are structured so that the baby gets the right balance of milk and solids during the first year. Aiming for mealtimes at around 7.30am, 12noon and 5pm will ensure that this happens and that milk feeds are not reduced too quickly.

By offering first solids after the 11am milk feed, it is easier to gradually push the milk and solids on and establish a proper lunch at 12 noon, than it is to bring the milk and solids back from 2/2.30pm to 12 noon. Also, up until the age of six months, your baby needs milk – it is still the most important source of nutrition, providing him with the right balance of vitamins and minerals. By giving your baby his first solids after the 11am feed, you can be sure he has had nearly half his daily milk intake before noon, and that his milk intake is not reduced too quickly.

Also, because most babies wake between 6am and 7am, breakfast solids will eventually come at around 7.30am – introducing first solids at 2/2.30pm would mean too long a wait between meals. Some parents resolve this by giving a milk feed at 11am so the baby can get through to 2/2.30pm. However this can lead to other problems, the main one being that as the baby grows and milk alone no longer satisfies his hunger, he may start to wake up earlier from his lunchtime nap genuinely hungry. If this happens the solids are usually offered earlier than 2/2.30pm, but often the baby does not feed so well because he is too tired due to a shorter lunchtime nap. Another problem, which often occurs when first solids are given at 2/2.30pm, is that the baby cuts back too much on his 6pm milk feed, which in turn results in him waking earlier for his 10pm feed. This can have a knock-on effect and result in early-morning waking.

If first solids after given after a baby’s breakfast milk, they may well cut back too quickly on the amount of milk he drinks at the 11am feed, thus denying them the essential vitamins and minerals that is provided by milk. The lunchtime nap could also be affected as a smaller milk feed and no solids could cause him to wake early through hunger. Once again, this can have a knock-on effect for his night-time sleep.

Giving first solids at 11am not only makes it easier to establish three solid meals a day, but it ensures that the baby’s milk intake is not reduced too quickly and the correct balance of milk and solids are established.

Please note: “first solids” means the first solid meal that is introduced. The CLB weaning guide recommends that first solid meal is introduced at 11am, and gradually pushed onto 12 noon, the second solid meal is introduced after the 6pm feed, and eventually brought back to 5pm. Once solids are established at lunch and tea, the third solid meal is introduced after the breakfast milk.

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.

Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

What’s the right consistency for baby rice?

I have a question regarding the preparation of pure organic baby rice, as suggested in Gina’s book The Little Contented Baby Book of Weaning. I live in Denmark and here you can only purchase pure organic baby flour, which you then prepare yourself. On the package it is stated, that you should prepare ½ a dl. of flour with 3 dl. of rice flour. This result is a smooth mixture. However, if I then wish to add some expressed milk in the mixture, the package suggests that I add as much milk as water, which means 3dl. The result is very watery – like the consistency of breast milk. Is this correct? I thought that baby rice would have a different texture than milk! Our son is a very happy and contented baby. We have followed the routine since he was 1 week old.
Helle (Denmark)

When you first begin to make baby rice, its texture is quite runny. This makes it easier for your baby to suck it off the spoon and makes the transition between sucking fluids and eating solids easier. In the UK we begin adding slightly less milk to make a firmer texture once the baby is adept at taking rice from a spoon. If you’d feel better with a denser consistency, you could decrease the amount of water and expressed milk by a very small amount to form a slightly thicker texture. I hope this helps put your mind at rest.

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,
Ruth

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.

Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

My son is 19 weeks and has suddenly and drastically reduced his milk intake

My 19-week old son sleeps well at night (from about 8pm to 7am), although I have to wake him and give him a full feed at 10-11pm. The problem is that up until three weeks ago he was taking 6-7 oz at each of his five milk feeds. However, over the space of about five days, he began to take less and less, and was down to about 2-4 oz from each bottle, except the last one at night which he usually finished. Nothing seemed to work to get him to drink his milk again – he would cry if I even brought the bottle near his face. I decided to try mixing some with baby rice and he took that fairly easily. Over the last two weeks I have introduced solids three times a day after his milk feeds in an attempt to try to get him to eat a bit more. He is almost exactly the average weight for his age, and takes his naps and sleeps well at night. What I am worried about is how to get him to drink enough milk. He seems much happier eating his solid foods than taking his bottle, and I always offer the bottle before the solids – he is still on five feeds a day. Why would a baby take against the bottle? Is it a mistake to have introduced three solid meals a day so quickly?

Joel’s sudden uninterest in milk could be down to lack of hunger. Often a baby suddenly just is not so hungry at the times he has been following for the past few months. Rather than trying to get him to take the bottle and meeting with resistance, wait for 20 minutes or so, engage him under his gym or on a play mat and then offer it to him. If he then takes more than he has been, you have solved the problem. The fact that Joel cried when he saw the bottle would seem to point to this.
Although Joel is sleeping well at night now after 10pm, his dramatic decrease in daytime milk could well cause him to start waking in the night needing more milk. As you began solids when he was 17 weeks old, the way they are introduced and the quantities given are very important. If you follow the plan laid out in the Complete Guide to Weaning, you will see that at his age he should still be getting most of his nutritional needs from milk, with the solid foods just being tastes of different vegetables and fruit and a little bit of filling from baby rice. Solids at this age are very much in addition to his milk not a replacement for it. Between five and six months he will begin to decrease his milk intake slowly as the solid food begins to replace it and more milk is used to mix cereals and add to sauces.
As a rough guide, by five months a baby should be taking 3-4 tsps rice and 2 tsps of pear puree at 6pm. At lunch he should have 3-4 cubes of a suitable vegetable.
Although he appears to enjoy his solid food, having too much without enough milk as well could cause him to become constipated. At his age he needs at least 20ozs a day of milk.
If you begin to structure Joel’s solids in guidance with his age, he should begin to accept his milk feeds again.

Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

Is twenty weeks too early to introduce protein?

I just wondered if there is anyone there who can give advice on starting protein. I weaned my very large son (9.9lb at birth, and 14.5lb at 8 weeks!) early. We started on Gina’s weaning guide at 13 weeks rather than 4 months as he was going spare, waking all time and draining 12oz at a time and still screaming. However, as such he is now 20 weeks and is at the end of the 5 month meal planner (ie. 3 spoons of cereal with 2 cubes of fruit for breakfast; 5 or 6 cubes at lunch; and 5/6 rice plus fruit at supper – and this is on top of 7/8 oz at every feed, plus another 5/6 oz at 6.30pm!) He sleeps brilliantly from 7pm-7am and well at all his daytime sleeps. He is now just 20 weeks and weighs nearly 9kg and I’m wondering if I should move on to protein? The book says to wait until 6 months, but I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do, rather than give him so much milk and vegetables?
I would really appreciate an expert opinion on whether the 6 months is a very strict guideline on starting protein, or whether it is a bit more weight-dependent. My health visitor is not very helpful.

I can see from your details that your son is very big. As he appears to be contented with the amounts he is on at present, I would leave introducing protein until he is six months. The current Government guidelines suggest delaying weaning until six months if possible. With a son your size I can see that this has not been possible but I would not introduce protein this early in case his digestive system is not yet mature enough to cope or allergies occur.
If you feel he is not satisfied with his food you can increase the vegetables a little more. If he began to wake early in the morning or in the night you could also put back the 10pm feed for just a few weeks until he is old enough to start protein.

Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

Although I weaned Jack at 17 weeks, he still wakes for milk in the night

My son weighs 15lb 10oz. He has been formula-fed since the age of 16 weeks and l started weaning at 17 weeks.
Jack has never slept through the night. He wakes between 3-4am and l usually give him a 3oz bottle which he drinks in about 20 seconds! I still wake him between 10-10.30pm and he drinks 6-8 oz. I am following the Weaning book to the letter and have not experienced any problems with any of the foods Gina recommends. I am reducing the amount of daytime milk as per Gina’s guidelines ie: only giving a 7oz bottle at 2.30pm. Should l keep reducing his daytime milk as his solids increase? At 5 months Gina recommends giving a 5-7oz bottle at 11am (instead of the usual 8oz). I am assuming that still feeding Jack at 10.30pm and 3/4am is defeating the object of reducing his daytime milk intake !!!
Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Jack may still need his bottle at 10/10.30pm for another few weeks until he is taking more solids but I suggest that you begin to cut back and eliminate the one at 3/4am. It would seem he is waking from habit rather than hunger. Replace it with water if he still continues to wake. Even taking 3oz at this time can have the knock-on effect of Jack not being so hungry for his 7am feed and cereals. As Jack begins to take more solid food at 11.30am he will not need such a large milk feed. This feed becomes “lunch” and, after protein is introduced from 6 months, the milk feed at this time is replaced by a drink of water or well-diluted juice from a cup.
Use the “tier” method of feeding at this feed so Jack has half his milk feed, then some solids followed by more milk. This will encourage him to cut back his milk and get him ready for the three solid meals a day he will have by six months.
Until Jack is 6 months old he will still need a minimum of 20oz of milk a day. From 5 months old more milk will be used when making up baby rice, cereal and solids so, although he begins to drink less, his overall daily intake remains the same.