Thanks to everyone who weighed in (no pun intended) on my post regarding Charlie's rapid weight gain. I've been doing some research and some thinking, as well as a lot of discussing with Roy, and here is what we've come up with:
We don't think Charlie's pediatrician meant for him to get on a rigid schedule right away. He stressed that we try to get Charlie's formula consumption down if we could. He never said the word "diet" - that was really my word (but I think it's an accurate description of what the doctor wants). Although I don't really like that he didn't give us any ideas as to how to accomplish this, his recommendation has gotten me thinking.
The one thing I hate about this is how many differing opinions there are. Some people say it's wrong to put a baby on a diet. Some people say that a baby can be overweight and that it can lead to obesity later in life as well as interfere with reaching milestones in a timely fashion. I think there can be no strict guidelines about how much Charlie should eat and when he should eat. He's too insistent when he's genuinely hungry - and I think most babies would fall into this category.
I do think that we've been guilty of treating feeding time too casually: it's been something to get through (mostly) so that we can move on to the next thing. We've had no problems handing Charlie off to be fed by anyone who wants to feed him, and while it's not anyone else's fault that Charlie may have been eating too much, this is not something we'll be doing anymore. We really need to reclaim feeding time for ourselves, at least for a little while. It just feels like the right thing to do, until the situation feels more under control.
Secondly, I don't think Roy and I were paying enough attention to Charlie's cues or putting enough thought into how much he was eating and when he was eating it. We were strictly "feed on demand" people right from the start, and while I think that a hungry baby definitely needs to be fed, I think we were reaching for the bottle too soon (sometimes) - this especially applies now because Charlie is no longer a newborn and seems to have more complicated needs. Now we are making sure that Charlie is really hungry before feeding him. And we are slowing down the feedings (when Charlie will let us). And we are taking the bottle away sooner to see how he reacts. Lo and behold, he will sometimes stop eating much sooner than anticipated. Sometimes he won't. Sometimes he will go four hours in between feedings. Sometimes he won't.
Some would say that our pediatrician is crazy (and I do still want to get a second opinion). I don't think he was completely off base. I don't think he meant to make us feel like we were doing anything wrong. I think he just wanted to point out a potential problem. And this is something I am grateful for - I may not agree with the "3 oz every 3 hours" rule, but if we are contributing to a potential issue, then I want to do what I can to stop it now before it becomes an awful, unbreakable habit.
So we're doing our own thing. We're adjusting in a way that suits our family (and Charlie, of course). We are still mostly letting Charlie lead the way, but we are gently guiding him. On the whole, we have managed to cut down on Charlie's formula consumption, and he is still healthy and happy. I couldn't tell you how much we have cut down, though - we've chosen not to be OCD and track the numbers.
After all, in the end, it's all only numbers.