Feeding and Weaning

When it comes to Jack’s feeding habits, it has been and continues to be a roller coaster! The NICU discharged him and sent him home because he had proved that he could consume his full requirement of oral feeds without issue for 48 whole hours. That meant the whole bottle or near enough without having to resort to it going down his nasogastric tube. So he was taking 90ml every 4 hours like a trooper. Home he came.

Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks we started to experience the first problem. I’ve covered before how my milk alone was not enough for him to gain weight on so the plan was to alternate between my piped breastmilk and a formula called Nutriprem 2 (NP2). This had worked well but then he started rejecting the breastmilk feeds and really had a paddy when it was defrosted and not fresh. Feeds became traumatic for Jack and to be honest it still a bit hit and miss now. We started giving him NP2 full time which he didn’t object to as much and this also had the added bonus that I could wean myself off the breast pump which had become a pain in the arse. I know that “breast is best” and I tried I really did. The NICU nurses said I carried on pumping a lot longer than the majority of mums they see go through the unit. I am proud that he had my milk and all the accompanying antibodies for the first 3 months of his life. But once we were out of the unit and I had other things to do and places to go, pumping was getting in the way of us living our lives and enjoying my Leave. Breast is not best when the baby doesn’t gain weight on it. So formula full time was best for Jack. Breastfeeding Nazis can sod right off!

Over the weeks and months at home, we had issues with getting Jack to have his full amount at each feed so he wasn’t eating enough and what he was eating he threw up. The first thing we tried to combat this is to switch from hospital grade bottles/teats to Dr Browns. Jack has always been quite windy so I thought an Anti-Wind brand would help. It did help I think and he doesn’t get frustrated with teats collapsing. We also switched from powdered formula to ready-mixed which helped slightly too. It seems easier for him to digest and if he pukes its not all cloggy. Feeding was still an issue though because he was vomiting up maybe 3-4 of his 5 feeds. These issues combined caused him to have really small weight gained and even a maintain one week.

I started to get full of anxiety and would panic a lot. My brain would throw the worst case scenario at me which was that he’d be readmitted to hospital and have a nasogastric tube put back in and be diagnosed with “Failure to thrive”. I maybe should google stuff less. I wish I’ve never come across that phrase.

Feeding was taking over our lives. I was so afraid of him not getting enough that I would plug away at the same bottle for 3 hours and he had a new one every 4 hours. He sleeps through the night too which, although fantastic and an absolute lifesaver, meant that his amount each feed crept up to 150ml every 4 hours due to missing a night feed.

So we’d tried ready mixed formula, new bottles, Infacol or no Infacol and back again, and staying absolutely still for up to an hour after a feed to keep it down. I told the NICU lady I was getting really worked up about it and how he just can’t manage that volume of milk. So we came up with a plan. We would try changing him from 4-hourly to 3-hourly so the volume would decrease and also request a prescription for a different milk. A higher calorie milk so that he would need less to get the calories he needs.

With NP2 the daily amount he needed was based on 165ml per kilo of weight per day. This total then gets divided by the number of feeds per day. So for example, a 4 kilo baby would need 660ml per day which is 132ml per feed if there are 5 feeds a day. With the new milk, which is called Infatrini, the baby only needs 120ml per kilo of weight per day. Loads better.

So for Jacks current weight of 5.52kg on a 4-hourly feed, he would have needed 182ml per feed – holy crap! But on Infatrini every 3 hours, he only needs 110ml per feed. This has taken him from gaining 2oz every weigh in to 8oz every weigh in! Last time Jack was weighed he was 5.52kg which is 12 lb 2! He’s finally following the centile instead of dropping the centile. He doesn’t throw up Infatrini as much either (only once a day not several) and takes only 10 minutes generally for a bottle most of the time. This has taken a huge weight of my shoulders – weight that has evidently gone into his belly!

We have also started weaning him and giving him his first tastes of solids she he got to 6 months actual age. This may surprise you because at 6 months old hasn’t he only got a 3.5 month old body? Yep. I was surprised too! The Feeding specialist and the NICU lady said that I should start weaning Jack at 6 months actual age because if I left it until 6 months corrected (not until August) he could resist and reject solids completely and have a massive aversion to it. So since he turned 6 months old actual on 18th May I have been trying him with solids – the baby food that says suitable from 4 months on it. His body is still delayed even if his mind isn’t. He seems willing to try foods and has got better with it as the weeks have progressed. I think getting food via a spoon to then move to the back of the mouth to then swallow thoroughly confused him at first but he’s kind of getting it now. He prefers some things to others.

This leads me to the age old question – how do they know, as young as this, that desserts are the best? He’s not that taken with vegetable risotto or mango puree but LOVES banana custard. Little tinker! He’s tried a few different things. I’m determined that he won’t end up like me with my eating disorder style pickiness (google Selective Eating Disorder – that’s me!) He’s tried porridge, baby rice, various fruit purees and custard. I’m only giving him one bowl of food a day at the moment and he has between 10-20g depending of what it is. Maybe I’ll build up to two bowls a day over the next week or two. I’m going in blind with this weaning thing as nowhere on the internet does it say how often or portion size! I’m winging it!

But isn’t that how most Mums and Dads are doing this parenting thing anyway? 🙂

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