Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care bottle feeding breast feeding warning signs Underlying Cause

Poor Feeding in Infants Home Care

Home care for infant feeding problems includes:

  • Learn how to feed your baby.
  • Stop nonprescription medications.
  • Treat causes of fussiness:
  • For infants under 3 months old:
    • Place the infant in a quiet, dark room to sleep.
    • Continue breastfeeding every 2-4 hours.
    • Infants who are hungry after breastfeeding may require formula feedings.
    • Cuddle and rock your baby.
    • Do not place the infant face down to sleep.

Bottle Fed Infants
  • Provide more frequent, smaller feedings:
    • About 1-2 oz. per feeding
    • Allow time for burping in between feedings.
  • Dilute the formula in half for 24 hours before returning to full strength.
    • Use Pedialyte, Lytren, or Rehydralyte to dilute the formula.
  • Do not give the infant cow's milk.
    • Try a soy based formula.

Breast Fed Infants
  • Mothers should:

Poor Feeding in Infants Bottle Feeding

Learning about bottle feeding may help you reduce infant feeding problems in a bottle-fed baby.

For more information on bottle feeding:

  • Selecting an infant formula
  • Introduction to bottle feeding
  • Combining breast and bottle feeding
  • Introducing solid foods

For more information on breast feeding:
  • Breast feeding introduction
  • Breast feeding guidelines
  • Signs of good feeding
  • Special considerations when breast feeding

Poor Feeding in Infants Breast Feeding

Learning about breast feeding may help you reduce infant feeding problems in a breastfed baby.

It is normal for your baby to nurse 7-12 times in a 24-hour day. Breast milk is easy for the baby to digest, so your baby will be hungry often. Most babies nurse every 1.5 to 3 hours during the first few weeks. Some babies like to eat every 1-2 hours for a few feedings and then take a nap for 4-5 hours. Other babies eat on a scheduled 3 to 4 hours around the clock. You should wake your baby at least every 3 hours during the day and let the baby sleep 5-6 hours at night. As the baby gets older, he or she will nurse less often and sleep longer at night.

For more information:

  • Breast feeding introduction
  • Breast feeding guidelines
  • Signs of good breast feeding
  • Special considerations when breast feeding

Most babies will nurse for 15-20 minutes on each breast. Some babies can have a successful feed in only 5-10 minutes on each breast, while others make nurse for more than 20 minutes.

Some babies always nurse both breasts, while others prefer only one breast per feeding. It is important for you to measure the quality of your baby's feed rather than the clock.

You will recognize a normal nursing pattern after you gain some experience with breast-feeding. When your baby first latches on to the breast you may notice short, urgent, choppy sucks. This will be followed by a relaxed, jaw gliding movement interrupted by brief rest periods. When your baby begins to rest more than nurse, provide stimulation to continue nursing. If your baby does not resume nursing with the jaw-gliding sucking, release the suction and remove the baby for burping. Place your finger in the corner of the mouth and between the gums to release suction. When your baby gulps during nursing, air is taken in. This gives your baby a full feeling, before nursing is completed. Remove your baby from the breast to burp. After burping, your baby should be ready to resume nursing.

Signs of good breast feeding:
  • Baby is swallowing
  • Baby is gaining weight
  • Breast softening
  • Milk on baby's tongue
  • Wet diapers

Signs of adequate nutrition:
  • 3 or more good-sized yellow colored, seedy bowel movements per day
  • 6 or more wet diapers per day
  • Breasts feel full before feeding and soft after feeding
  • Child is satisfied after nursing

How to increase milk production:
  • Get adequate fluids: drink at least 1 quart (or liter) of milk and 1 quart (or liter) of water per day
  • Get adequate rest; take extra naps
  • Increase the frequency of nursing and minimize the use of a pacifier
  • Pump the breasts for 10 minutes after each feeding
  • Reduce stress

Poor Feeding in Infants Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if your child has infant feeding problems and any of the following:

Continue to Poor Feeding in Infants Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Sep 14, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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  4. Lucassen PL, Assendelft WJ, Gubbels JW, van Eijk JT, van Geldrop WJ, Neven AK. Effectiveness of treatments for infantile colic: systematic review. BMJ. 1998 May 23;316(7144):1563-9. [9596593]
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