4-Month-Old’s Nutrition: How Often and What Should They Eat?
Struggling with your baby’s diet and wondering how often a 4-month-old should eat? Here’s everything you need to know about a successful mealtime.
The 4-month mark is a magical time for a baby.
Your little one is officially past the newborn stage and has reached the “Look at them, they’re so cute” era. A 4-month-old baby can move around, flexing their hands and smiling at others. With these developmental milestones, they’re probably growing like crazy, too.
Because of this growth, your baby will need a feeding schedule appropriate for their age. Here’s how often a 4-month-old should eat, along with details on potential solid foods in their diet.
How do I know when my baby is hungry?
Babies will be loud to let you know they’re hungry: they have no other way to vocalize, so you must be attentive to your little one’s body language to avoid confusing hunger with another issue. In general, your baby should eat every 3-4 hours.
Hunger cues include:
Fussiness, such as whining, squirming, or making expressions of discomfort.
Licking their lips or sticking out their tongue.
Opening or closing their mouths.
“Rooting” around with their head, or making a searching motion for breast milk.
Putting their hand into their mouth repeatedly to mimic a sucking motion.
When your baby is hungry, don’t skimp on breastfeeding or formula. Meet their on-demand feeding schedule. Most babies need to be breastfed 6-12 times a day.
Parenting tip: While crying can be a sign of hunger, it can mean other things, too. Sometimes, your baby just wants a hug or a diaper change. In later growth spurts, they may even be teething.
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How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?
Formula and breastfed babies eat every couple of hours. When they’re full, your little one will unlatch from the breast or bottle and turn their head away. If they’re still hungry, they may cling on. Knowing how much to feed a baby depends on many factors.
Of course, even the most attentive parents can have concerns about feeding the right amount. Here’s how to tell if your 4-month-olds’ baby weight is considered healthy.
Your baby should be healthy if they’ve experienced no rapid weight loss.
Your baby should be healthy if they align with the average weight for their age group: 15 pounds, 7 ounces for boys, and 14 pounds, 2 ounces for girls.
Your babe is probably eating enough if they produce at least 6 soiled or wet diapers per day.
Signs of underfeeding
A dry diaper that persists for 24 hours. This is often a sign of dehydration and should be brought to the attention of your baby’s doctor.
Signs of overfeeding
Lots of gas.
Frequent spit up or vomiting.
Parenting tip #1: Bottle-feeding babies are at risk for excessive weight gain. Drinking from a bottle is more manageable than drinking from a breast, and your baby won’t grow as tired as quickly. They may not recognize when to stop, so pay attention to the amount of formula they’re drinking.
Parenting tip #2: Always attend regular checkups and contact your doctor if you suspect an emergency. Chart your baby’s growth to update your doctor. You can also use baby healthcare products to take care of temporary diet setbacks.
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When does a baby start eating real food?
Can a 4-month old baby feeding schedule include solid food? Sort of. Some babies are ready to start solid foods earlier than others. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you don’t start solid food until your baby is 6-months-old.
The process of switching a baby to a solids and bottle feeding schedule is a long one. It goes:
Milk or formula feeding only.
This is followed by introducing solid foods alongside milk before weaning your baby.
If you plan to go ahead with solid food, your pediatrician must sign off the schedule. Certain milestones your baby needs to meet to make the switch are:
A doubled birth weight.
A weight of at least 13 pounds.
The ability to sit upright in a high chair.
The ability to hold their own head upright for an extended period.
A natural interest in solid food. You’ll see this behavior through your baby’s attempts to grasp other people’s meals and put it in their mouth. Let your baby eat what they want (within reason).
If your baby doesn’t fit this criteria, they aren’t ready. If they do meet the requirements, follow up with your family doctor to discuss the possibility of switching their feeding habits.
A word of caution: Even if your baby is introduced to solid foods, they can’t be weaned off of milk or formula until they’ve passed their first-year mark.
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What food does a baby need when they’re 4-months-old?
Each baby requires a slightly different feeding schedule tailored to their needs. However, you’ll find a couple foods for your 4-month-old to try when starting solid foods:
Fresh bananas, mashed.
When preparing solid food for your baby, always make sure it’s soft and finely cut. Anything too large will become a choking hazard.
Avoid honey, which can cause botulism in babies under one year of age, and avoid water. While water can be introduced into your baby’s diet in small amounts, it’s not recommended until the 6-month mark.
Only introduce one new food at a time, so you can watch for allergic reactions with different items.
If your baby doesn’t want to eat a particular food, don’t force them. It can make them sick.
How often should a 4-month-old nurse?
Are you struggling to answer the question, “How much should I feed my baby?” We’ve put together sample feeding schedules for formula, formula-and-milk, and all-milk diets, adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidebook.
As always, remember that on-demand feeding should be prioritized. If your baby sleeps through the night, you likely won’t need to wake them for feeding. But if they’re hungry in the middle of the night, you’ll have to be up with them. Here are some general guidelines for a feeding guide:
Feeding schedules for formula-fed babies
Feed your baby with formula every 2-3 hours, or on-demand. Every time you feed your baby, give them 4-6 ounces of formula.
Feeding schedules for a mix of formula and breastmilk
Breastfeed your baby for 10-15 minutes on each breast every couple of hours, or on-demand. Alternate this schedule by giving your baby 4-6 ounces of formula in between feedings.
Feeding schedules for a breastfed baby
Breastfeed your baby every 2-3 hours or on-demand. Feed your baby for 10-15 minutes on each breast.
Are you searching for formula options to add to your 4-month-old’s diet? Check out Gopuff’s wide selection of baby food. You can shop from the comfort of your home and have it delivered right to your door, which is perfect for any parent.