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Baby Formula Slowdown

Expert Q&A


Updated June 10, 2014

Q. I have a 5 month old son. He has been fighting me to eat for about a month. He loves cereal, fruits and vegetables but does not like sucking on his bottle. At times he will suck down a bottle very quickly and finish it, but most of the time he cries and jerks his head around. Eventually he will decide he is ready to eat and he will eat 2 to 5 ounces and be done. Before this he was eating about 5 to 7 ounces every 3 hours plus cereal in both the morning and evening. Now his bottles range in amount and he eats every 4 hours. His formula intake for a day ranges from 18ish to about 22ish. I am wondering if this is enough formula in a day for a 5 month old (he is small for his age because he was 5 weeks early, he weighs about 15 pounds and is 25 inches long)? Also, do you know what could be bothering him that suddenly he hates to suck on a bottle (some people say teething is the problem)? Any suggestions on what I can do to get him to want to eat? My pediatrician is not worried and stated that as long as he is growing it is ok. Karen, Little Egg Harbor, NJ

A. That amount of formula is below the 24 to 32 ounces of baby formula that you would expect a 5 month old baby to eat.

Among the reasons why an infant might be drinking less baby formula like this include that:

  • he is going through a little slowdown in his growth, although this should only last a few days or so
  • you are feeding him too many solid foods, and much more than the 3-5 tablespoons of cereal a day and 1-2 tablespoons of fruits and vegetables once or twice a day that a 4-6 month old baby might be eating. Keep in mind that some infants aren't even eating cereal until they are 6 months old, so any amount of fruits and vegetables could be too much for some babies.
  • the nipples of his bottles aren't letting enough formula out and he is getting frustrated. If this might be the case, you could consider upgrading to a medium or fast flow nipple for his bottles.
  • you are either waiting too long to feed him or are feeding him too early. Either could cause problems and you might experiment with the timing of his feedings to see if it makes a difference.
  • that he is teething, although you should feel or see some teeth if this were the case.
It could also be that he just prefers solid food. Does he do better with his bottles if you first give him some cereal? If that is the case, you might completely separate the times that he eats baby food and formula, so that he doesn't expect them together.

Or it could just be normal. The fact that 24-32 ounces if the average intake of baby formula means that some are drinking more and others are drinking less, and all can be healthy and growing well.

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