When baby not on a set schedule

My son is 14 months old and very healthy. I want to wean him from breastfeeding, but he doesn't eat on any set schedule so I cannot seem to just eliminate one feeding at a time. He also just has 6 teeth which makes it difficult to feed him table food. He refuses baby food. I really need some guidance.

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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

Hello,

First of all, you do need to get your son on a regular meal schedule. He is certainly at an age where this is possible, and will make life a little easier for you. Begin by setting up a schedule that works for you and your family, that is based on the meal schedule that the rest of the family uses, and that does not leave more than 3 to 4 hours between daytime feedings.

The schedule for your baby should look like this: Wake up breast feeding, breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and bedtime breastfeeding. Now, assign general times for those meals/snacks. For example, if your family is off to work early, breakfast may be served at 7am. Therefore, when baby wakes up, let him nurse, then put him at the table with you at 7 for his breakfast fruit and cereal. If he wants to nurse again before breakfast try and hold off to 7am if possible. You may have to gradually work your way there. If you have set morning snack at 10:30. then if your son wants to eat prior to that, again, try to stall for time. The same for lunch, dinner, etc. It will take some time, but if you have a preset plan, you can know what you are working for. Then, once you seem to have him on a schedule, more or less, you can begin to eliminate the nursings. The first ones to go should be the nursing that accompanies the meals. Instead, offer a sippy cup with whole milk. Next, eliminate the snack nursings, and finally, eliminate the wake up and bedtime nursing.

Lack of teeth should not interfere too much with his ability to eat table food. You need to be judicious in picking out those foods that are appropriate for him, and then altering those foods that are not so that he may eat them. For example, if you are eating baked chicken, bring a little baby food grinder to the table and put some of the chicken through the grinder for him, press it into a little ball that he can pick up, and let him eat that. Cut the tough crust off of the bread and just give him the softer insides to gum. If you know you are serving something that he won't possibly be able to eat then before sitting down, also put on the table something you know the baby can eat. For example, if you are having scallops in wine sauce, put out some small cheese balls that are made from shredded cheese pressed together. They will look a little like the scallop so baby thinks he is eating like you, yet it is more appropriate for him. If you are unsure as to whether he can eat the food, put a little in your mouth and see how well it 'gums'.

Of course, for a while, you will adapt your family's menu to make it more baby friendly, and latter on toddler friendly, and so on until the kids leave the house and you can go back to the days B.C. (before children). Until then, you may get very tired of macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, pancakes, and pizza! Pick out a baby cookbook from some of those I have mentioned in other Q/As on the internet page. They have some fun and delicious recipes for baby that the whole family can enjoy. They also have some good finger food suggestions. Some good finger foods for older babies with few teeth are: ripe avocado chunks, ripe banana, grated cheese pressed into a ball, tender muffins, teething biscuits, Cheerios, soft cooked chunks of carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, ripe papaya chunks, tofu squares, rice pressed together into a little ball, peanut butter and jam finger sandwiches, cooked tender, flaked fish, ground cooked turkey, chicken, or beef, chopped hard cooked egg, stale bagels for teething on, small pasta, tender cooked broccoli florettes, and baked apple chunks.

Thank you for writing.

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