Solids and teeth/Enough calories when transitioning?

I have a 8 month old daughter who has yet to acquire teeth. I breast feed her 5 times a day, early AM, after breakfast, at lunch, at dinner and before bedtime. She will not take a bottle of water, breastmilk or anything else other than a banana-yogurt juice. I feed her 1/2 cup of cereal mixed with water and 1/2 jar of fruit in the morning, 1 jar of dinner or vegetables and 1/2 jar of fruit, at dinner 1 jar of dinner and 1 jar of fruit. I'm worried she doesn't get enough calories. I have no friends who breast feed so I can't ask anyone. Since she has no teeth, She can't snack. She also still has trouble sleeping all through the night.

Any suggestions?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Michelle,

It is very possible that your baby daughter is not getting enough calories in her diet. How has her growth been lately? Breastmilk is very high in fat and calories and when solids begins to take the place of milk, it is possible for the amount of calories in a baby's diet to go down. This is because most solids are not of the caloric density of formula or breastmilk. When solids are very first added to baby's diet they are not to replace milk, but rather to supplement it and to give baby some practice in eating solids.

Fruits and vegetables are some of the first foods added. They are very low in calories, and so should not cause the cut back in milk consumption. When you add more calorically dense foods, you may begin to substitute them for milk, especially if they are also a good source of protein.

Foods that are used to begin taking the place of formula or human milk are high protein/fat dinners, full fat dairy products, nut butters, vegetarian dinners with either cheese, or nut butters, egg yolk, and cereal that has been mixed with formula.

Here is a place where you may increase the caloric content of your daughter's diet without increasing its volume...mix her morning cereal with a baby formula or breastmilk instead of water. When you serve her dinners at lunch and dinner, make your own that contain non-lean meats or purchase baby dinners that are higher in fat and calories. You will need to do some label comparing in order to do this.

You may also want to offer your daughter an afternoon snack that will add some nutrition to her diet. Either offer her a bottle of formula, nurse her, or serve something like a full fat cottage cheese, or some hard cooked chopped egg yolk.

Which leads us to the issue of teeth! Don't think that just because your daughter is toothless so far, that she can't chew or eat chunkier, more solid foods. It is amazing what gums can do! Younger babies who are also toothless can't eat chunkier, thicker foods because they do not yet have the proper up and down and chewing motion necessary to deal with those types of foods, not because they don't have teeth. Do a little gum test yourself, and see if you can eat the food in question without using your teeth. If you can, there is a good chance your daughter can too.

She should be able to manage such things as cheerios, tender bits of muffin, soft cooked sweet potato sticks, teething biscuits, egg yolk, and some brands of crackers. Junior foods that contain chunks are also fine for her because the chunks will dissolve in her mouth with some gumming. In fact, it is a good idea to offer you daughter some chunkier foods to help stimulate the development of her chewing and swallowing ability. Try making her cereal thicker, offer it in small clumps for her to eat as finger food.

To help her sleep through the night, you will want to be sure you have offered her a high calorie dinner and continue the bedtime nursing. If you think your milk supply may not be meeting demand, would you consider supplementing with a formula? If not, a solid snack before the nursing may be helpful, such as a small bowl of cereal mixed with breast milk or formula.

I hope you find these suggestions and insights helpful. Thank you for writing.

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