Monday, July 28, 2008

Dropping the 4th Feeding {Bottle or Breast}

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Many moms are unsure when they should drop that 4th liquid feeding. Frankly, I am unsure exactly when I did it with Brayden. I know some moms who have dropped it around 9-10 months, even while nursing. Others are beyond 18 months when they drop the 4th feeding.

I personally for sure keep 4 liquid feedings while I am nursing. While I think I can maintain a supply with 3 feedings later in the year, I just feel better about 4. Brayden was around 18 months when we dropped the 4th liquid feeding. I think we did it around the same time we dropped his morning nap since his bedtime moved up by an hour. I think Brayden needed that 4th feeding for a longer time because he just has a fast metabolism and needed that extra feeding in the day. He also would not drink more than 6 ounces per feeding, and I wanted 24 ounces of milk in him per day.

As Brayden got older, he would drink more than 6 ounces sometimes. I would give him however many ounces he needed to get to 24.

Kaitlyn is 15 months old, and we are apparently in the middle of dropping the 4th feeding. It is a weaning process for us. I am not doing it on purpose, but some days she has it, and others she doesn't. I don't count ounces with her like I did Brayden. I currently give her about 10 ounces at each meal (but she rarely drinks that much at a meal). When she was 12 months old, she drank different amounts at each feeding. Some it was 3 ounces. Others 8. As she has gotten older, she has been able to take in more ounces per meal and therefore needs that final liquid feeding less.

So with Kaitlyn, I give her 10 ounces at each meal (three times a day). Then sometimes I give her the 4th, also with 10 ounces, if she seems to need it. I can't really describe it other than I just know when she does. Part of it is that I am a more seasoned mom now and better at reading my children. Part of it is that Kaitlyn is an excellent communicator.

Kaitlyn can handle the way I do this. She monitors herself. She has also always been a small girl, usually in the 20% percentile. I am not concerned about her eating too much. She also is a random drinker. Some meals she drinks 10 ounces--others she drinks one ounce. It isn't the same feeding, either. I know there are some kids who will eat everything you put in front of them. Some kids will drink more than they need. Do what works for your child.

You can drop that 4th feeding if your child gets the liquid he needs in 3 feedings. You would also want to make sure if you give more ounces per meal that your child still eats the solid food well. You can drop it if your child continues to grow well and sleep well when you do so. I think with the 4th feeding, it is something you will just kind of know when it is the right time. Remember, if you do drop the feeding and it turns out your child isn't ready for it, you can always add it back in (thought it might be harder to do that if you are still nursing). Trust your Mommy intuition!

You can see more on dropping feedings in general on this post: Dropping Feedings


Todd and Noelle said...

When baby is sick or teething and not nursing well, do you think pumping is important for milk supply, or will supply just decrease then increase again when baby is feeling better and nursing better? (my son is 9 months)

Sharpe Family said...

Val I'm just curious about the volume of milk you are offering your kids. The book I was given by my health nurse says no more than 16 oz of milk for kids over 12 months of age??? Now I'm confused.

Plowmanators said...


I am sure that depends on the person. I never pump to compensate for less eating, but it really isn't a bad idea. If it is for one day, probably not a big deal. If it is several days, it might become a problem. Pumping definitely wouldn't hurt anything :)

Plowmanators said...

Sharpe Family,

I have read everything from 16 ounces to 32 ounces a day. You will find very differing advice depending on which doctor and which book you consult. I had decided on 24 ounces a day. I don't even remember where I read it, but it sounded the best to me. I talked to my doctor about it and thought that sounded good. It might depend on the size of child and metabolism. Mine are both on the smaller end--20-40% usually.

LEM said...

When you talk about dropping the 4th liquid feeding which feeding is that? I am getting a ahead of myself as my son is only 4 months but I like to think ahead. I am thinking that at this point they eat 3 main meals with milk and get an additional liquid feeding. Right? So what time are you normally feeding this additional feeding I guess is my question.

Plowmanators said...

The 4th feeding is the last feeding of the day when you are down to four feedings a day. They get that right before bed usually. See the sample schedules one year and up post for examples of that.

LanesMommy said...

Lane eats at 8 bottle,12bottle + babyfood,4bottle, and 7 starts his bedtime [babyfood, bathtime, & bottle] routine.

It seems like here in the last couple of weeks lane has become disintereseted in his bottles. He eats all of his bottles[i make him] except thet night time bottle.Which he fights me and doesn't act like he wants to eat it and most of the time I give up. Do you think he is ready to drop the 4 o clock feeding and just eat a snack and juice?

LanesMommy said...

Might I add Lane is a Formula Fed baby and has been on a 4 hour routine since birth. And when I say snack, I mean whole fruit in his mesh feeder or biter biscuits.

Plowmanators said...

Sorry, I need to know his age to be able to give an opinion on it. :)

nicolefiehler said...

I have a 10 1/2 month old and I am beginning the weaning process... My child eats at 8,12,4, and 8. I was planning on dropping that 4:00 feeding first because he seems to be the least hungry then and so that we would be feeding around the three meal times. This post made me wonder if I should be dropping the 8:00 feeding first. What would you suggest?

nicolefiehler said...

Thanks a lot!

Plowmanators said...

Nicole, Are you talking about weaning from breast? If so, I wouldn't drop any feeding all together. I would give him formula in place of the breastfeeding meal. If you don't want to feed formula, wait until he is 12 months to wean.

If he is bottle fed and you want to cut it back to three feedings a day and are sure he is ready, you don't really drop one or the other. You go to three feedings a day, but it would be 8-12-snack-dinner...those times for snack and dinner would be determined by what you think is best for him.

Mario & Nicole said...

My son (11.5 mo) has a bottle at 7-12-4-7:30 (strange times are part of the reason we're trying to drop a feeding). My son has become very inconsistant with the amounts, sometimes 2oz, sometimes 6-7 oz. Since he's always been very consistant in the past, this leads me to believe that I need to drop a feeding and adjust. I'm still a little confused about the previous posts... does this sound logical?
7- breakfast + bottle
12- Lunch + Bottle
4ish- solid snack
6:30- Dinner + bottle

Then not give a bottle before bed? Also, how would I know if he wasn't ready for this. It's always been very obvious for us, but this one just isn't :)
Thanks in advance!

Plowmanators said...

That sounds like a good plan.

The best way to know if he is ready is to try it and see what happens :) Good luck!

The Camperos said...

My daughter went from 4 formula bottles a day to 3 milk sippies (4th feeding before bed remains bottle) at 12 months. This did not go well. She doesn't like the milk so much so we went with soy milk as she liked that better and takes 8 oz bottle of cows milk before bed. Her pedi said this was ok as long as she is getting calcium from other areas (yogurt, cheese). So my question is I am having mother guilt that my 14 month old still takes a bottle before bed as others are telling me she needs to be done with that. Her dinner is at 5pm and bed at 7pm, she always drinks her whole bottle and often keeps sucking for more. What would be your cut off age for giving a liquid feeding before bed? Do you still give your older kids any kind of solid snack or sippy before bed?

Plowmanators said...

Brayden had four liquid feedings until 18 months old--so his fourth was just before bed. We went down to three around that age.

With Kaitlyn, she went to three at 12 months.

heather said...

My daughter is 9 and a half months old and I am starting to prepare for weaning as I will be back at work when she is a year old. My daughter is breastfed.
This is her current schedule:
8am- breastfeed, then somewhere between right away at 9am she gets 1/2 cup of baby cereal with one ounce of fruit
10:30/11 naps till noon
Noon- finger food first (1/2 ounce of cheese, handful of cheerios), then 1oz of veg and 1 oz of fruit, followed by 4 oz Homo milk in a sippy cup (we started this at 9 months)
2:30-3:30 nap
4- breastfeed
5:30- dinner- 1/2 oz of whoole grain pasta, 1/2 oz of ground meat, 1 oz of veg and 1oz of fruit
7/7:30- breastfeed and bed.

I'm noticing that she isn't doing much sleeping during her naptimes, making me think she is ready for only one nap a day. She isn't crying, just laying there talking to herself.

I read in baby whisperer that by the time they are a year old they should be drinking half as much fluid so that's why I went from breastfeeding her (or a 8oz pumped bottle) to 4oz of homo milk at the noon feeding).

I am wondering where to go from here for some sample schedules to continue the weaning process so that by the time she is 1, she is only breastfeeding at night before bed. I had been told that slowly moving from breastmilk to Homo milk is fine after 9 months to prevent the need for formula. I also will need for her to start getting up earlier, and would love if she could stay up later so that I would have more time with her at night.

This was my thought-
8am breakfast and breastfeed
11:30am lunch and 4oz of milk
12:30-2:30 nap
2:30pm- snack
4- breastfeed
5:30- dinner
7-breastfeed and bed

and then move to
7:45 breastfeed and breakfast
11:30- lunch with 4oz of milk
12:30-2:30 nap (and sleep longer if she will)
2:30- snack
5:30- dinner with 4oz of milk
7:15 breastfeed and bed

and then lastly move to
7:30 breakfast with 4oz of milk
10 snack
12 lunch with 4oz of milk
1-3 nap
3 snack
5:30 dinner with 4oz of milk
7:30 breastfeed and bed (eventually changing this to a bed time snack with 1/2 cup of milk)

What do u think?

Plowmanators said...

Heather, she isn't ready for one nap at that age. It is most likely due to a developmental leap (see wonder weeks blog label).

She is also close to a year, but not one year yet. I would still give her lots of milk if you can until she is actually one year old.

Different doctors have different opinions on if cow's milk is okay prior to one year. Most say it is not. My doctor advised me to not even just one week before Kaitlyn's first birthday. So talk to your doctor about it and do what you feel comfortable with.

She really needs two naps a day until she is about 14 months old--but most babies keep two naps until 18 months old.

Autumn said...

This is my first post on this blog. I first want to say that this blog has helped me through so many questions...thank you for creating it and being willing to help those of us with so many questions.

Here is my question: my schedule seems to be a bit different than most and I'm struggling with figuring out how to go down to 3 feedings per day. I need to be to work most days by 7:30 so I drop him off at grandma's house around 7:00 (which means he starts his day pretty early). I have some time yet because my son is only 8 1/2 months old. Here's his typical day (3 days a week he is with me all day while the other days he is with grandma):

6:00 am breastfeed
7:30 nap until 9 or 9:30
10:00 breast/bottle + cereal + fruit
12:00ish nap till 1:30 or 2:00
2:00 breast/bottle + veggie
5:30 breastfeed + cereal + veggie + fruit
7:30 bed time

Since my "liquid only" feeding is first thing in the morning, how do I ever make it to 3 meals a day? I'm pretty confused as to how this is going to happen for us...I simply don't have time in the mornings to feed him a "full" breakfast. I would hate to have to get him up even earlier...

Plowmanators said...

Autumn, you are welcome!

If I were you, I would plan on staying at four feedings until he can stay awake long enough to get breakfast in at Grandma's house after you drop him off. So I would plan on grandma giving him his solid food at breakfast once he goes down for a nap at 8--don't even worry about it until he is 1.

brooke said...

Do some babies drop the 4th feeding as early as 8 months? My daughter will be 8 months next week and I am thinking she may be ready to drop a feeding. She has been a lot less interested in eating right when she wakes up, both in the morning and after naps. It has also been difficult to squeeze the bottles in as she has been napping longer than she used to and sometimes her last 2 bottles end up just a couple hours apart (she has been on a 4 hour schedule since before 5 months). I am thinking (to keep her formula intake up and ease the transition)of giving her three 8 oz bottles and solids (she currently has two 6 ox bottles with her 2 meals of solids and two 8 oz bottles) and then a 4 oz bottle before bed. We recently had a babysitter who could only get her to drink 3 oz at bedtime (doesn't strong arm her like her mama does) and it didn't affect her sleep.

Alison said...

Brooke I am also wondering the same thing. My little guy turned 8 months on the 9th and the only formula feeding that isn't a fight is breakfast. He is currently on a 4 hour schedule eating at 8, 12, 4, and 8. I currently make him 6 oz bottles at all feedings and he gets solids at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (8, 12, and 4). At breakfast and lunch I can typically get him to eat 5 oz and then I feed his solids. He always finishes his solids and honestly I think he would eat more if I had it in the bowl. His 4pm and 8pm bottle feeds have been a fight the last few weeks. I'm lucky if I can get three oz down him and last night at his bedtime feed he ate 2. I have been debating on whether I should just do solids at 4--giving him a bit more then what I have been and a bottle later on in the evening before bed or if I should not feed him right away when he wakes up...maybe giving him a little snack and then doing solids/bottle at 6ish when we eat dinner. I'm concerned about him not getting enough ounces but the reality is that what we are doing is not giving him enough anyway but he is growing and thriving so I'm not sure if I should be concerned about that or not.

Plowmanators said...

Brooke and Alison, I haven't ever heard of it that early. I think the earliest I have heard is around 10 months. If you were breastfeeding, I would say that is not a good idea for supply issues, but since you are both formula feeding, I think you can try it and then watch your baby closely. Watch diapers and watch growth--you want them to stay on their same growth curve.

I would be concerned about number of ounces--they will need so much liquid a day. You might want to consult with your child's doctor about how many ounces your child should be getting.

Amanda said...

I am currently trying to drop the 4th feeding. My son is 12 months. I know he is not hungry because he eats dinner with milk at 6 or 6:30p and then we put him down around 7 or 7:30 for bed. We give him about 4 oz of milk in sippy before bed (we backed that down from 6oz this month). He has been crying for the milk and won't fall asleep without it. Tonight we gave him 2oz and he was fine. It is a habit. How do we break that? Any advice???

Amanda said...

Also, he is drinking 24 oz a day. A normal amount. Thanks!

Nene said...

Hi Plowmanator

My 10 month old has been nursing much shorter these days. I cant seem to have him nurse more than 10 minutes, sometimes its 5 minutes or less. He's not interested in feeding as soon as he wakes. I'm nervous he's not drinking enough. I tried adding another feeding and doesnt want it. Now I'm thinking of dropping a feeding and streching his wake time so he's hungry. Also I am preggers and I know my milk is changing. My goal was to feed him BrMilk at least until 1yr.
His schedule:
6:30 breastmilk then solids
8:30 nap
10:30 wakes
11:00 breastmilk (not too interested) and lunch
12:30 nap (wont sleep until 1pm-2pm)
2:30 wakes
3:00 breastmilk (not too interested)
5:00/5:30 cat nap (he sometimes takes it)
6:00 breastmilk (not too interested)and solids

I've tried giving a 6oz bottle of breastmilk and he only wants 3oz i have to work at giving him the rest even after solids i'll try.

I dont know what to do. My daughter self weaned at his age too and I wasn't even pregnant at the time.

David Ehret said...

My baby is 9 months old. I am starting to plan ahead for the dropping of the fourth feeding and the transition from bottle to sippy cup. Once you switch all the bottle feedings during the day to the sippy cup, do you do the same for the bedtime feeding? Do you hold your baby in your rocker and just give him a sippy cup of milk instead of a bottle? or do you try to do it in a different setting, like out in the living room to try and break that association of the baby needing milk before bed? Hope this makes sense! Also, what was your meal schedule with your one year old?

7- breakfast with whole milk
11- lunch with whole milk
3 - snack with water? or milk?
6 - dinner with family and whole milk?
7 - whole milk in sippy cup before bed

.. and then ultimately working towards no milk before bed

Valerie Plowman said...

For our schedule at 1 year, look under the "baby summaries" at that age.

I moved it so the last milk of the day was at dinner instead of right before bed. Don't feel rushed to do this. Do what seems natural for your baby.


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