How to troubleshoot full feedings with your infant!
My last blog was explaining what a full feed is, if you haven't seen it, check it out here. We want your baby to have a full feed during each cycle of your day to achieve consistent nighttime sleep. Sometimes achieving a full feed is easier said than done, and we know that. If that is the case for you and your baby, we have some helpful suggestions to get a full feed every time you feed. A lot of parents have difficulties accomplishing a full feed in any cycle and this is what we tell them to check in order to troubleshoot.
So, how do we troubleshoot full feeds?
- Check your nipple level size if you are bottle feeding! This is major!
- Heat whatever type of milk you are offering, to at least body temperature.
- Keep working! Accomplishing full feeds takes time, do not give up!
- Limit each feed to 30 minutes.
- Feed in a dark distraction free environment.
- If your baby is over 12 weeks of age try a few cycles of EAT PLAY EAT SLEEP.
- If you are using a formula maker, let's try hand mixing our bottles for a few days!
(NOTE: Make sure to check out the recommended bottle amounts suggested on each monthly guide. They are always changing!)
If your baby is less than 4.5 weeks old, keep in mind that they are still in that sleepy newborn phase and they may need help staying awake and focused during feeds. This is a great time to start following EAT PLAY SLEEP. We want your feeds to start right when your baby wakes each time so they have enough energy to take a full feed. Your baby's wake windows are so short at this age, so we want to do whatever we can to keep them awake long enough to take a full feed. You can take your baby's clothes off, rub their face or put a wet washcloth on their feet, we just want to stimulate them enough to stay awake for that full feed.
If your baby is older and you are having a hard time getting them to eat more there are a few things we want to check. First, we want to make sure you're warming the bottle well past room temperature. Remember, breastfed babies drink milk that is at least 98.6 degrees, so they want it hot! Next, let's check what level nipple size you are using, this is a big one and isn't spoken about enough. We typically suggest sizing up a nipple level one month prior to the suggestion of the manufacturer. If the increased flow is too fast at first, try pace feeding.
Many parents email us and say that their feeds are taking longer than 30 minutes, which is something we don't want.This was my biggest new Mom fail! I caused myself so much stress feeding over 30 minutes. When babies are eating it takes a lot of effort and is often exhausting so we want to end the feed at 30 minutes, let your baby sleep and try again during the next cycle. Full feeds are something we are working towards and not everyone will be perfect but it is important to keep trying!
If your baby is over 12 weeks of age, we can try to do a few cycles during the day of EAT PLAY EAT SLEEP. We typically suggest you try this during the late afternoon/ early evening so more milk will be consumed closer to nighttime. Think of it as splitting one feed into two portions, but, we still don't want our feed times to go over 30 minutes total. We also want to make sure the second feed in your cycle is finished before the end of your OWT. This is vital.
Around 5-6 months old, they start to become very distracted while eating so we want to make sure you are feeding in a dark, quiet, distraction free environment. I know that is harder for you but try to make it work for your benefit as well. While feeding, try to visualize your baby feeding fully and sleeping well. I swear it helps. At this age, time spent at the breast can decrease to 15 minutes, as your baby becomes a more efficient eater but, we still may need to offer a feed in a dark, quiet, distraction free place.
Parents often want to use a formula maker to make bottles for their babies. Formula makers are great but, like all machines, need to be used properly and maintained to function at full capacity. Formula makers can over or under concentrate formula, if not used properly. We highly recommend going to the website of your formula of choice, and learning how to use your formula maker. If your baby is drinking the full amount of formula recommended on each monthly guide and you are following the age appropriate OWT and your baby is still waking at night, we want to try to hand mix your bottles for a few days and see if that helps. If your baby isn’t drinking enough of the formula you are offering, the formula could be over concentrated and affect the taste, causing your baby to not want to drink more. It could be helpful to try hand mixing your baby’s bottles to see if that affects their consumption.
If you are a member, here’s some helpful content from The Full Feedings Method Infant Online Program OTHER INGREDIENTS section to help with troubleshooting and maintaining full feedings:
OTHER INGREDIENTS > EAT > HOW TO KEEP BABY AWAKE & FOCUSED WHILE EATING
OTHER INGREDIENTS > EAT > MY BABY REFUSES TO EAT MORE
OTHER INGREDIENTS > EAT > MY BABY WAS EATING WELL AND SUDDENLY STOPPED
OTHER INGREDIENTS > EAT > BIRTH TO 4.5 WEEKS OLD
OTHER INGREDIENTS > BOTTLE FEEDING > PACE FEEDING
OTHER INGREDIENTS > BOTTLE FEEDING > EAT PLAY EAT SLEEP FOR THE BOTTLE FED BABY
OTHER INGREDIENTS > BOTTLE FEEDING > WAYS TO BOTTLE FEED
OTHER INGREDIENTS > BOTTLE FEEDING > BOTTLE FEEDING BY AGE – QUICK REFERENCE
OTHER INGREDIENTS > METHOD CONCEPTS > ALL FEEDS SHOULD BE FULL FEEDS
OTHER INGREDIENTS > METHOD CONCEPTS > WHY FEEDS SHOULD TAKE 30 MINUTES
OTHER INGREDIENTS > METHOD CONCEPTS > HUNGRY BABIES DON’T SLEEP WELL
If you are still having trouble accomplishing full feeds after following the suggestions above, reach out to us and we can try to help troubleshoot this with you further.
To sleeping well,
P.S. If you’re not yet a member, you can learn more about the Infant program HERE. Let’s make today the beginning of the end of your sleepless nights, mama!