You’re following our schedule to a tee, but you’re stressing out about how to get your baby to drink up the amount of ounces we have suggested. We say 6-8 ounces, but your baby is drinking no more than 4-5 oz. at any feeding. You ask yourself, is this normal? The answer is yes, it’s completely normal for babies to differ in how many ounces they can get down during a feeding. Baby girls, especially, drink less ounces in general than baby boys during their feedings. And of course, preemies will drink less as well. There’s no need to worry as long as your baby shows the signs of thriving, no matter whether you’re bottle or breast feeding. The only reason to get your baby to drink more ounces is to help them get more (and better) sleep. And we’re not talking about force feeding here…your baby will and should stop eating when she’s full. We’re talking about a gentle offering of more ounces that she didn’t even realize she wanted. And it can make the difference between your baby drinking 4 ounces versus 7…so, try these tips to gradually increase the ounces your baby drinks:
1. Stick to the schedule.
Getting you baby off-schedule can totally throw off her milk/formula intake — especially if you’re allowing her to get overtired. Try to stay as consistent with the schedule as you can, even when you need to be flexible with it. You can always gradually catch up your baby to her schedule during the day. And remember the magic formula: feed, play, then nap — always in that order!
2. No snacking!
This is the #1 deterrent to your baby being able to drink more ounces. Feeding your baby when it’s not her scheduled feeding time causes her to not be as hungry (or not hungry at all!) during her actual feeding times. Then you’re stuck in that endless cycle wherein your baby is always hungry when it’s not feeding time and not that hungry when it is! If your baby is crying in between feedings and you’re following the schedule, you can have confidence that she’s crying for some other reason (like maybe she’s cold, hot, tired, overstimulated, gassy, or wet). And that’s one of the many beauties of scheduling!
Read up: No Snacking!
3. Wake up your baby to feed.
When your baby’s allotted naptime is over, wake her up. Yes, wake your baby up! Go into the nursery and tell her: “Naptime’s over, sweetheart.” There’s some advice out there saying “never to wake a sleeping baby” but we think this is absolutely counter-productive to your baby’s schedule and her ability to get the right amount of ounces down during 24-hours. If you’re not waking your baby at the end of her naps, you’re not really following a schedule after all!
Read Up: Wake Your Baby to Feed
4. Don’t start solids before 6 months.
As a new parent, you’ll get an earful from the parenting community as to when and how to start solids (usually “they” say to start anywhere between 4-6 months) — and we’re going against the norm here because we don’t recommend starting solids before your baby’s 6 months old, ever. Why? For one, there is some evidence to suggest the longer you wait to introduce solid foods, the less likely your baby will develop food allergies in the long run. And two, why the rush!? Babies are completely nourished by their breast milk/formula, they’re used to it, and it helps you establish your baby’s schedule. Introducing solids is a big change for everybody and you certainly don’t want to start when your baby isn’t getting enough liquid calories to begin with.
Read up: PPB Schedules 27-36 Weeks
5. Model for your baby.
Pretend to drink the bottle for your baby, saying : “Yummmmy! Daddy loves his bottle!” If you’re breastfeeding, trace your lips with your finger, then trace her lips with your finger and tell her how much you “love drinking Mommy’s milk!” We know, it sounds ridiculous, but the truth is modeling sometimes gets the job done magically. Try it…you have nothing to lose!