So my 22 week old DS is healthily on the growth chart (16 pounds) but has lost some and has given up sleeping a 5-6 hour stretch for feeding every 1-2 hours around the clock. I used to be able to pump a couple ounces at least in between feedings, and now I can barely get half an ounce. He pulls and pulls at the breast after a few minutes, trying to get another let-down and I just don't have more. I've started pumping regularly and added goat's rue and shatavari to my regimen (fenugreek wasn't tolerated well by baby). I've also added some a dark beer at night a couple times this week. My supply is better, but I'm still not keeping up with him.
So, my question to you is: supplement with formula, or start solids? I would normally wait until 6 months for solids, and would start with avocado, or something nutrient-packed (not cereal). Oh, ds is also sensitive to dairy, and reacts when I eat even hidden dairy too much. (Mucousy poop, lots of tummy troubles, projectile vomiting) so regular formula wouldn't be an option. Soy makes me nervous, and I'm not sure what my other options are.
In general, I think formula should be a last resort and I don't really feel comfortable with it. But, starting solids so early makes me a little nervous, too.
I did start solids much earlier with my second than my first (he began having mashed banana right at four months and really liked it), so I'm not anti-earlyish solids. But in your case, if he's lost weight and it wasn't just a couple ounces as a result of an illness or something, I'd strongly consider formula. It is very hard to get a reasonable amount of solids into a new eater. My son is actually 15 months old now but still eats very small portions every couple hours - his little belly just won't hold more than a couple tablespoons solids. By six months he would eat a tablespoon max at a time. Even if you pick rich foods like avocado or egg yolks, it wouldn't add up to many calories.
I am usually not one to blithely suggest "just use donor milk!" because it's often really hard to find a suitable, safe donor, but if your sister or close friend or someone is nursing, it might be worth asking if she has any extra pumped milk, just because the taste of formula is pretty different and not all breastfed babies will go for it easily. I actually did try to supplement my son with some formula at 5-6 months because he was falling off his growth curve but he would not take it. When he got better (he'd been ill) he gained well again.
I have heard Good Start is usually tolerated well by breastfed babies. I don't have experience with it, but apparently the milk protein is partially broken down so it isn't always bad for babies who have some milk intolerance. Otherwise, hypoallergenic formulas like Nutrimagen and Alimentum are options. I've heard they taste pretty gross, but maybe your little one will take some. I'd call the pediatrician and ask for advice and also for samples if he or she can provide some, so you don't have to break the bank trying different types. Hang in there. There is no shame in supplementing or trying earlier solids. Hope the problem resolves well.
You may also want to get a thyroid check and maybe other tests run just to make sure all is well with your hormones. I'd call your OB or MW and see where to start with that.
I'd say try solids before you try formula. Starting at 6 months isn't an exact science... it's more of an approximate date for when they might be ready. Maybe your child is just ready a few weeks early!
You don't need that much solid food at the beginning to give that needed calorie boost. Maybe that's all the help you guys will need
Maybe not, but since it's the simplest solution, it's worth a try first. Don't push it, but maybe he'll just be like, THAT IS TASTY OM NOM NOM and it'll be easy. You can give him tastes on your finger after breastfeeding and see if he's into it.
Yeah given the dairy intolerance I wouldn't do formula. It's just asking for trouble. If he weren't dairy intolerant, maybe. In this case I'd try the avocado or other mushy, calorie-dense food.
FWIW from the data I have seen there is no adverse consequence to starting solids at 4 months. I like to wait until they can sit up and grab the food themselves (happened at 5.5 months for my ODD) but I don't know that there's any science behind that.
Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.
Vaccines save lives.