Due to the way baby Sadie got her start in life, her eating has always been a concern for me. For some background, Sadie was born with Gastroschisis, a defect where the intestines are outside of the abdominal wall. Once her intestines were surgically placed back inside of her and started functioning, we had to teach Sadie how to eat. There was a point where it was a big deal for her to take 3 ml of breast milk in a day (30 ml is 1 oz).
Fast forward to today, Sadie is 8 months old and taking 4 bottles of about 5-8 oz of milk for an average of 20-22 oz total plus 4-6 tablespoons of food every day. Today is the first day where she will be completely on formula – woohoo mommy freedom! I pumped breast milk for her up until 8 months in hopes that it would help her catch up on the growth chart. Now that she’s also eating (a lot of) food and taking formula well, I’m cutting off the teet. I will say I’m a little nervous because pumping breast milk is an amazing way to burn calories and I’ve essentially been eating for two for 16 months now. Time to start working out again!
For any other preemie moms out there who have babies on the smaller side, try not to stress too much about the total recommended ounces of milk per day. Once Sadie was discharged from the NICU, I would get so worried reading baby books and baby sites that said 4 month olds should be taking 24-32 ounces. There were times where getting Sadie to take 23 ounces in a day was a struggle. We would both be miserable during mealtimes because at some point around 4 ounces she’d spit the bottle out, I’d keep running the nipple by her mouth and she just wouldn’t take it. Even increasing the frequency of feedings just made her take less and less milk. Then, I met with a nurse practitioner and she said something that really helped me. She said “Well it’s like the chicken and the egg. You increase the feedings and she will take less each feeding or you decrease the feedings and she will take more. Either way she’ll take what she needs.” Since then, I have tried to let go of the recommended total ounces per day and have kept track of Sadie’s typical total ounces per day instead. Meals are much happier and although I still worry, I feel a lot better about her eating. If your baby is taking less than the recommended amount, track their intake to make sure it’s consistent and try to weigh them every week to ensure they are still gaining weight.
Even though I’ve given up the struggle to get Sadie to the recommended amount of milk, I still try to ensure she takes as much as she can. Sadie is a very easily distracted eater on the bottle. To help her be her most successful, I give her the bottle in a quiet room with low light. This way she can focus on eating and doesn’t have any distractions. That includes keeping our puppy, Wally, outside of the room.
As we considered whether to get a dog, we really looked out for food aggression. Especially because we have a baby – once Sadie is mobile, the dog’s food is probably something she will want to explore, or maybe even sample. Wally did not have any food aggression. We could even take away his bowl while he’s eating and all he would do is look confused.
When Wally first came to us, he would chow down all of the food in his bowl the minute it was set down. We think this was a result of him being used to not knowing when his next meal would be. Once he realized the meals would be coming consistently, he started to graze on his food throughout the day. I think this is preferable because it’s a lot easier on a dog’s digestive system and shows they are comfortable in your home.
To note: We only fill up the bowl twice a day for breakfast and dinner. Once it’s empty, we do not fill it again until the next meal. This is also called amount limited feeding.