Is my baby eating too much? Am I doing something super wrong?
September 3, 2014 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Well now I'm firmly in the camp of "anxious parent" but here goes. How much food should my kid be eating? He's 7 months old, is about 20 pounds, on formula and some solids. Details below.

(I know you are not my doctor. We have a great pediatrician, so mostly what I am trying to determine is if I should consider making an appt, or if it'd be a waste of time and money. If the answer turns out to be "No one knows, talk to the doctor" that's okay but time. And money. I live in the US, we have healthcare but still. Time. And Money.)

My son is 7 months old. He's super cute, very active (very wiggly and chattery when awake, takes 2-3 naps during the day, sleeps 7-8 hours at night, he can sit on his own, can stand if he holds onto something, rolls all over the place, is very grabby and social), very happy, and everyone tells me he's Very Large. But he doesn't seem so large to me - he fits in his 6-9 month clothes great, still fits in one or two 3-6 month pajamas (just barely) and he has what I think are the normal amount of baby fats on his arms/legs/face. We are formula feeding because nursing didn't work. It's soy formula because he had some Extreme Vomiting with cow milk formula. He has started solids. He has four teeth (Is this relevant? I don't know!)

I am not super great at figuring out what's a normal amount of food for an adult to eat, much less an infant, so I've been relying on the feeding sheets the doctor gave me, and the baby advice books/websites but mostly the websites aren't very helpful because there's an awful lot of uncited comments and anecdotes are not data, etc.

The websites and the sheets and the books all say that a baby should eat about 2oz of formula per pound they weigh. Baby Typechip weighed 19 pounds 2 ounces at his 6 month checkup (and was 25.75 inches tall), but he wants to eat 8 oz of formula every 3 hours (between 6 and 8/9 at night) which ends up being 6 bottles/48 ounces.

He also eats some cereal/fruit/veg 2 or 3 times a day - he's a good eater, and likes lots of things (pears, plums, peaches, squash, avocado, peas, oatmeal, rice cereal)

He does push the bottle away when he doesn't want it, and he does refuse the spoon when he doesn't want or like the food on it. He can hold his own bottles. We do not let him sleep with one.

He makes A Lot of diapers in a day - looks like 9 or 10 from the trashcan in his room, in a 24 hour period.

I have no idea if this is normal. Or healthy. I don't want to... I don't know, distend his stomach, put him at risk of childhood obesity, ignore a potential health issue...

Should I make an appointment? Should I be worried? Do I just have a healthy baby and an anxiety issue? Should I just go have some calming tea?

(yes, I have an anxiety issue. I am aware there's a risk here of my just being overly concerned about nothing, that's why I want to ask before I make a doctor's appt)
(does this work like pet questions where you share pictures? If so, )
posted by FritoKAL to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've always gone by the idea that if the baby is hungry, feed him. He looks healthy and happy, and I don't think you're overfeeding him at all.
posted by dil.emma at 5:48 PM on September 3, 2014 [19 favorites]

If you hadn't mentioned the Extreme Vomitting due to cow's milk, I wouldn't mention it, but since you have....

Has he ever been diagnosed with reflux? Babies with silent reflux (or heck, even regular ol' reflux) are notorious for over indulging on the bottle. Having a bottle can be pain relief for a babe who is suffering with GERD. If you think it might be the cause, it's definitely worth the Time and Money to get it resolved before it causes permanent food=pain associations and damage.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:48 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

He's fine. That "2oz of formula per pound" rule is to make sure the baby is getting enough. He doesn't have an eating disorder, he doesn't have an increased risk of childhood obesity. He's active, and he's growing, and he's healthy, and he is fricking adorable.
posted by Etrigan at 5:49 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

(This is NOT to say he's over indulging, because who am I to know? It's just a thought that came to mind while reading your question.)
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:51 PM on September 3, 2014

He's fantastic wonderful! (Looked at the pictures, as long as he doesn't actually chew a toe off, he's fine :-)
posted by sammyo at 5:51 PM on September 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

I am not a doctor. This is not medical advice. Etc. Etc.

Make an appointment with your doctor if it will ease your anxiety but I wouldn't have any concerns about what you're describing. As long as the food is healthy, give him as much as he will eat. My experience (with a now-2.5 year old) is that appetites go way up and down all the time. Our (small for his age) kid eats like a champ. I mean, he's eating better than his friends who are giant. He will often eat what I would consider a reasonable size lunch for myself.

Moreover, 20 pounds at his age is in the 75th percentile. So, bigger than average, but well within the normal range.

There is so much on the internet about what parents are "supposed" to be doing and what's "normal." I wonder if this is just one person's experience most of the time. Oh! And if you want to read about sleep advice I'll just leave this here. :)
posted by Betelgeuse at 5:51 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you are doing everything right from your post! Parenting can be stressful.

My son was that size at that age. He's fine 11 years later.

Aren't you pretty much due for a well-visit pretty soon? This sounds like something worth discussing for your peace of mind but maybe not a separate visit if you are scheduled in the next couple/few weeks anyway. On the other hand, if you would be very relieved from a visit or even a call to the nursing staff then that would be the best option to schedule right away.

Lastly, conventionally speaking, babies don't overeat. They eat until they are full. The charts are not particularly useful as babies go through extreme growth spurts where they eat a lot versus other times not so much. Actually, older kids are like this too.
posted by RoadScholar at 5:53 PM on September 3, 2014

Yay! You have a healthy baby! Mazel-Tov! OMG, how fricking cute is he?

He eats a variety of stuff, he sleeps through the night, and he's hitting all his milestones. His doc hasn't said anything, you're golden.

Some kids are chow hounds. It resolves itself. You don't want to restrict food if Baby is going through a growth spurt, or is just having a hungry day.

A lady I worked with had a 22 pound 3 month old. That baby was ENORMOUS. I think he's a full back for Ole Miss now.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2014

In my opinion, as a non-medical professional but a dad of three kids, your baby is fine and adorable. As long as he's willing to push food away when he's done, it sounds to me like you are doing just fine. There's a good chance the tyke is working on a growth spurt. My kids always ate in cycles. Everything they could stuff in their mouths for a few weeks, then minimum nutrition for a while, then another round of lots o'food when they were growing or particularly active. Bring it up at your next check-up, but I wouldn't worry about this at all. It's when he's not eating enough or he won't stop eating even when he's full that you would have an issue.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2014

PorcineWithMe - I asked the doctor about GERD but because the Epic Vomits were only during the short period he was on cow milk formula, she chalked it up to milk sensitivity/allergy (my husband was also allergic to cow milk (actual allergy, not lactose intolerance, though he has that too!), so we were half expecting it) - he has the occasional wet burp but those are few and far between.
posted by FritoKAL at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2014

RoadScholar - next well-baby is 9 months, so not super far off but far enough that I was considering the merits of making an earlier appt.

(not ignoring other replies, trying not to thread-sit, just answering actual questions)
posted by FritoKAL at 5:56 PM on September 3, 2014

I will look for my book about suggested food amounts for kids this age, it has been a while since I've had to know that sort of thing, but you sound well within the range and babeFritoKAL looks perfect to me. Also, you have an appointment not that far away - the 1-year appointment and that would be a very appropriate time to discuss with your pediatrician.

The exact amount of food is less important to the doctor than the general health and growth of the child and how the child fits along the curve of height/weight/head circumference in relation to himself. In other words is babeFritoKAL following a general trend of being height/weight proportionate and moving along at around the same percentile (comparing earlier appointments with each other and the upcoming 1-year appointment). For example, if he has been in the 60% percentile all along and continues to be in that general region he is doing great. A doctor will look more closely at large swings up or down. These swings are not cause for alarm, but rather a moment to stop and make sure everything is okay.
posted by dawg-proud at 5:59 PM on September 3, 2014


He's fine. You're fine. You're doing a great job. "Very large" in baby terms is a matter of an inch this way or that. Babies are very VERY good at saying no. If he's full, or not hungry, all the power in the universe could not get him to eat. Trust me. TRUST ME. (Oh you wait. Wait until he scrunches up his adorable little face and you cannot get food into him for love nor money. It will happen. And it's normal, too.)

(If you want, read about baby led weaning, which is something my family used. But do what works for you and your family.)

You also don't need to take him in, in order to talk to his pede about this. Just call the doctor's office and they should be happy to talk with you about this or any issue.
posted by anastasiav at 6:02 PM on September 3, 2014

It's been a long time since I had a baby that small but I do remember that kids get hungry and put on weight just before they hit a growth spurt and at that age they can literally grow overnight.
posted by metahawk at 6:03 PM on September 3, 2014

Oops, sorry, I forgot about 9-month appointment, I wouldn't worry about going sooner than that unless you have other health concerns. Adorable baby.
posted by dawg-proud at 6:03 PM on September 3, 2014

First of all, chubby babies are the best babies.

My kid also goes through absolutely ravenous phases before major milestones (crawling, walking, etc.) and growth spurts. I have two, one who was always a 10th percentile baby, and another consistently 60% or so, and both of them did this randomly. Before each growth spurt, they'd get super chubby and then get taller seemingly overnight and look normal again. (Then they would just stop eating well abruptly for a day or two at a time and freak me out, but that's another AskMe).

You and your baby are doing fine.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:09 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

that is a perfectly normal looking and very cute baby, congratulations.

(I would tell you if your baby looked overfed, although as people are pointing out, as long as it's healthy food and not, like, bottles of chocolate milk (sadly I have seen this happen) you can't overfeed a baby.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:21 PM on September 3, 2014

He's perfect. People are saying he's big because he's solid-looking, but geeze that baby doesn't even qualify for chunky!
posted by DarlingBri at 6:26 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's been my experience that boys eat constantly. My son, at 7 months, sucked his bottles down so enthusiastically that they would implode slightly- the boy liked to eat. He was always in the next size up for clothing but never overweight. He is now a string-bean at 16.

To put things in perspective- you are feeding your baby fruits, veggies, and formula. You are not feeding your baby tea, soda, juice, chips, and fast food.

The next time someone makes a big baby comment, say, yeah, you should see what he puts in his diapers. :)
posted by myselfasme at 6:26 PM on September 3, 2014

48 oz./day doesn't sound excessive for a 7-month-old. It also doesn't sound like an unreasonable number of diapers. (And sometimes formula-fed babies have more diapers in a day than breastfed babies -- and kids just have different throughput!)

Let him eat until he's full. He is fine!

(Also, everyone says babies look "tiny" or "enormous" ... nobody ever says "Wow, that baby is exactly average!" You get a bitty baby chunking up before a growth spurt and looking all Michelin Man for a few weeks and everyone's all "YOUR BABY IS HUUUUUGE!" and you're like "BUT SHE'S IN THE FIFTH PERCENTILE" but no, it's totally just about expressing that they are cute and chubby, or cute and tiny, or whatever.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:30 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Am I allowed to mark all answers as best, just because everyone is so reassuring that I'm not a disaster at feeding my kid?

(he did eat... maybe eat... a tater tot last night, or at least turned it into component tater tot atoms. I'm not 100% sure any got in his mouth but he had a good time with it)

Oh God I'm threadsitting but seriously, everyone I went from freaking out to almost crying with relief. Which is a little maybe dramatic but I'm kind of great at wearing my self out from anxiety sometimes.
posted by FritoKAL at 6:36 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think people are prone to talk about how big babies are because if you don't see them for a week you can completely see the difference and it's a weird cognitive dissonance. But that's just babies for you, getting bigger all the time whether you give them permission or not!
posted by Lyn Never at 6:45 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Absolutely, everything sounds normal. My baby is much bigger and the pediatrician is always thrilled at his hugeness and enthusiastic eating. You cannot over feed a baby who is feeding himself.

My baby is consistently wearing clothes for babies 3-6 months older than him and this has been totally normal in my family. We just have big babies. Nothing abnormal about it!

My only thought is to offer more protein with the solids? We did a lot of hummus on toast at that age (baby led weaning). That said, I followed the idea that "food is for fun until one" and didn't worry too much about his intake at all as he gradually has moved from a heavily formula/ breast milk diet to a diet of mostly solids with 3 bottles a day at 11 months.
posted by rainydayfilms at 6:50 PM on September 3, 2014

He's doing great! My daughter was just about exactly that size at that age (I just double-checked my tracking spreadsheet to be sure). People were constantly commenting on how chubby she was, especially because both myself and her dad are super skinny. But I just fed her when she was hungry, and figured she knew what she was doing.

Now she's almost 3 years old, and still has a healthy appetite, but she's not nearly as chubby as before. She is as healthy as can be. Don't worry.

And believe me, a kid who likes to eat is a million times easier than a kid who is a picky eater... you and I really lucked out here.
posted by barnoley at 6:51 PM on September 3, 2014

I think people are prone to talk about how big babies are because if you don't see them for a week you can completely see the difference and it's a weird cognitive dissonance.

Yeah, this. I think it's usually a "look, growing person! miracle of life!" thing. If your doctor is good with it and your baby is healthy and happy I wouldn't worry so much.

I'm not a parent but from being out with new parents I've seen just how much people offer opinions and advice and and and - it's well meaning for the most part but I can understand how it gets excessive.

Also your baby is so cute! So. Cute. Yes the rule is like pet pictures, we needs em ;-)

(no not really).
posted by sweetkid at 6:52 PM on September 3, 2014

So, with the understanding that babies are OMG STRESS in the best of times (so little! so helpless! so mysterious!) I really suggest you talk to a doctor about your anxiety. Post-partum anxiety is a Thing and there is help for it.

He looks beautiful. You are making a beautiful baby. Congratulations :)
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:59 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Babies being Very Large is a compliment! Yours looks healthy and robust, and everyone's just marveling at what a fine offspring you have. He is so cute!
posted by teremala at 7:08 PM on September 3, 2014

Your baby is perfect, and you are doing a wonderful job. Stop worrying and enjoy your little guy. Yes, they often do chub up and then start running/crawling. Mine also liked steamed sweet potatoes. Now he is a lanky 21 year old, all legs and arms. But he had such fat cheeks at one time. *cries*
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:08 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Agree with everyone else, that is one adorable baby. Seriously. The cuteness!

Wait, did you have another question? I got all distracted.

Can you see if your doctor has an advice nurse line or would be willing to talk to you on the phone? I have taken advantage of this a couple times in my daughter's young life. It's good to feel reassured. I would say that he has a robust appetite but not necessarily a worrisome appetite. Is he crawling yet? He may be gearing up for a growth spurt. I know that my kid hit peak chunk between 6 and 8 months then started crawling. Check out this series on child development and stages -- they are short books with a very practical tone that I found immensely reassuring.
posted by amanda at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Usually there's an option between "fret by yourself" and "set up an appointment". Usually there's an advice nurse you can call, or you can call and just ask to talk to the pediatrician (and eventually get a call back). And often, there's a nurse line as part of your insurance, and I have found them to be helpful as well
(although in this case it might not be as helpful since the insurance company can't look at the baby's chart).
posted by leahwrenn at 8:55 PM on September 3, 2014

Obvs going to leave this open until I get the reminder to close it but thank you all so much for reassuring me.

I am going to call the advice nurse tomorrow just in case, because as a few people said, it's there and available for that sort of thing, but I'm also going to try to just be less fretful about his eating.

... also omg hummus as baby food is the best idea, sweet potatoes are on the list as soon as I can find some at a local farmer's market, and thank you all for telling me he is super cute. We think so, but I made him so I'm biased.
posted by FritoKAL at 9:02 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

He's adorable and you're doing fine. I just wanted to mention that at about six months was when we also started introducing water with meals and if you are concerned that he's eating too much formula, perhaps try using water as a little filler? Just perhaps something to ask your doctor about (and yes, call, that's what they are there for, I've called about the opposite worry so I don't see why you wouldn't call about this one!).
posted by echo0720 at 9:05 PM on September 3, 2014

Just before my guy started crawling, right around this age, he got crazy hungry, like he was storing food for The Great Migration, which, in a way, he was. It all settles down.
posted by judith at 11:53 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

My son was very plump as a baby, as in 90th %ile for weight, 50th %ile for height. Loved food, loved to nurse. Research says that if you give children healthy food and let them eat what they want, they'll eat a healthy diet, over time. I would offer healthy foods, and I would offer water in case he's thirsty. My son is now grown up, healthy weight, exercises, and eats like a healthy person. Even as a little kid, he liked broccoli and other vegetables. I'd be concerned that if you restrict his food, he'll develop too much food emphasis. If you eat and enjoy healthy food and exercise, he will too. (though my son now eschews the whole grains) He's adorable.
posted by theora55 at 12:30 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, we cut the toast into "fingers" or strips and put hummus on them and let baby nom at them as one of his first people foods. VERY popular! Also an excellent way to use up fruit & veg purees as they move into solid food, as "jam" on toast.

We always cut up whatever we were eating into teeny-tiny pieces and let the baby have at least a little bit ... he was going berserk for curry at 10 months.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:59 AM on September 4, 2014

Actually, 48 oz of formula is *a lot*. The 2oz per pound thing is more for newborns, not 9 month olds. The formula fed babies I know of got around 30 oz max. Most sources I am familiar with max out at 32 oz as the recommendation.

Bottle fed babies might suck for comfort rather than hunger, so he might be content with just a pacifier for one or two of those bottles. It couldn't hurt to try especially since he is ready to eat solids now.

I think a visit to the ped is in order -- too much formula or milk can lead to iron deficiencies. I think it would make sense to start ramping down the bottles and start ramping up the solids, letting him lead the way on how much to eat.

I suggest checking out Baby Lead Weaning. I find this book sort of annoying in some ways (hello, I am not giving my infant a chicken drumstick to chew on, and purees are fine!!) but the overall point is that babies should be allowed to develop self-feeding skills so they can learn how to regulate themselves.
posted by yarly at 5:33 AM on September 4, 2014

I had a gigantic, gigantic baby; around the 95%tile since 3 months, wearing 18 month sized clothes at 9 months, the whole deal. We heard an earful about his size. My grandmother basically tried to stage a one-woman intervention where she insisted I was overfeeding the baby. At daycare he would drink about twice the volume recommended on baby sites (we breastfed, but were looking at breast milk-based recommendations.) Like your son, he loved solids, was pretty happy and active, and made it very clear when he was done with food.

I discussed his size with his doctor at well-baby visits, and her response was always that she wasn't concerned because he was hitting milestones, staying on his particular growth curve, and self-feeding a variety of healthy foods with very little junk. She told us to keep doing what we were doing.

So, we did. Anyone who complained about his size got an earful about his doctor's perspective. He's nearly 4, has stayed pretty true to his growth curve, and is very active and very awesome and he still eats us out of house and home. So definitely talk to your doctor about it, but my experience is that it is 100% possible for a kid to eat way more than what the books say and still be happy and healthy. I'd look at the baby-led weaning things recommended upthread; we took some of that advice without sticking to it too strictly and I think it helped to not get in the way of his own varied palate.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:56 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

When my firstborn was a few months old, I had a nervous breakdown, because I was absolutely certain that I was starving him. Post partum anxiety is a Real Thing(tm), and you may want to talk to your doctor about that. Prozac and Ativan helped me immensely.

I have two biological children, have had 8 stepkids and 5 stepgrandkids, have 6.5 nieces and nephews, 4 godchildren, and help take care of 9 more kids. With that experience in mind, let me say this: Typechip will eat when he's hungry, and won't eat when he's not. He looks absolutely healthy and happy and completely adorable. You're doing a good job, Mom. Promise.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 7:30 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Based on just his clothing size you listed, he seems perfectly normal to me. People always mentioned to me that my son was large too, but people seem really ignorant to how sensative mom's are.

When my son was his age, my son only ate very few finger foods - just puffs, crunchies, cheerios, yogurt bites. He was still mostly formula and baby food - but ALL children are totally different. My son didn't eat "solids" until after he was a year old. I was very big on everything he ate and very pissy if someone didn't abide by those rules, and I still feel very strongly about that to this day.

Please don't worry :)
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2014

When my firstborn was a few months old, I had a nervous breakdown, because I was absolutely certain that I was starving him. Post partum anxiety is a Real Thing(tm), and you may want to talk to your doctor about that. Prozac and Ativan helped me immensely.

This is on target as well.. but you're absolutely normal in your concerns. I'm not sure that post partum anxiety EVER goes away.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 9:23 AM on September 4, 2014

Oh, also, speaking from about 17 months past where you are, watching the adorable baby fat disappear as they start to turn from baby to kid is a tiny bit heartbreaking. Squeeze those chubby thighs while you still can!
posted by judith at 6:49 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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