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Hi Everyone!

My LO is still waking up at night to eat. She just turned 1. Around 6 months she started waking up 3-4 times at night, at least once was for a feeding. This lasted until about 8 months when I caved and started having her sleep in bed with me, which minimized the wake ups to 1-2 a night. Since then she still wakes up at least once a night to eat. My Dr said she shouldn't be doing this etc etc. I am starting to get used to this, but not sure what to do? Her stomach does growl. She is a very picky eater, and eats like a bird, but also has about 10 teeth. The bottle does comfort her for teething. She rejects alot of teething toys, frozen ones, cold ones, the wash clothes, etc. Ora gel doesn't really work, and I am not for giving her tylenol all the time, unless she's in a quite of bit of pain.
Shes off formula now and on milk, and I am making smoothies for her. She doesn't get milk or a smoothie until she tries to eat solid foods first. I get excited on days she has several bites of each meal, but this rarely happens and she has alot of days she just wants nothing to do with food.. she is interested in it.. She has a smoothie before bed and around 2 she wakes up to eat, stomach growling. She is 97th percentile in everything and the dr is not concerned. She just said keep doing what you are doing and eventually she will start eating on her own. Well, it bothers me ha! Plus I need a solid nights sleep.
 

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Your doctor is correct in that babies 9 months+ no longer require night feeding. Theoretically, babies this age should be able to sleep 12 hours uninterrupted. This is best, as sleep quality is diminished when it’s fragmented.

That being said, theory doesn’t always apply to the individual baby. It sounds like your baby is struggling with two things: circadian rhythm and solid foods. She is still quite young, and it’s not unusual in the least for a 1 y/o to merely dabble in solids. I think it’s for this reason why the WHO recommends babies breastfeed for at least 2 years.

One thing that I wonder about is making cow milk such a significant source of calories. While it is breastmilk, the nutrient profile is significantly different from human milk. Human milk has a much higher fat and carbohydrate content, and lower protein content, than cow milk. Although we’re both mammals, we have significantly different biologies from cows. That’s why, for infants, it’s recommended to give either human milk or a formula that has a similar nutrition profile.

I think smoothies are a great idea. This can give your baby a lot of nutrition, whilst being easy to eat. As you’re not breastfeeding, and baby’s a toddler now, it makes sense that her calories need to come from solid food sources. I would try to focus on energy dense, easy to eat foods. Of course, serve your baby fruit and veg too, but make sure there’s always an energy dense food served with that. infants and toddlers tend to have a harder time eating enough, as they have shorter attention spans and smaller stomachs. I think the two keys to encouraging your baby to eat enough are to offer food frequently, and to serve energy dense and easy to eat options. Some good foods to serve are smoothies (with higher calorie fruit like banana or mango, seeds, and milk instead of water + a bit of berries or greens for extra micronutrients), bliss balls (nuts & dried fruit, blended in a food processor, and rolled into bite sized balls), healthy baked items like muffins, flapjacks, cookies (make them with whole foods such as whole grain flour, bananas, dates, and sweet potato), avocado, nut butters, fruit spread (think apple butter), dates, and whole grain bread.

Formula/liquid meals are appropriate to give first thing in the morning (babies typically wake up very hungry and cannot wait half an hour for breakfast), just before night sleep (ideally, this should be enough to get baby through the night), and before and after naps. In addition to liquid meals, which will probably amount to 6x per day, serve your baby three solid meals. It’s probably best to separate the two, so don’t offer a liquid meal just after a solid one, as your baby might under-eat solids because she’s holding out for the liquids. Try the following tips to encourage your baby to start relying on solid nutrition:

-Serve meals at the same times each day. This will train baby’s circadian rhythm to expect food at these times, and she will start to feel hungry around then.

-Eat together, and eat the same food. Children learn by watching us.

-Serve foods in separate parts. Let’s say you’re serving loaded sweet potatoes. You have some baked sweet potatoes, some broccoli, some seasoned black beans, and some avocado. On your baby’s plate, serve some bite sized pieces of sweet potato. Next to that, put some avocado. On another part of the plate, put a few broccoli florets. In another area, serve a spoonful of black beans. Babies often find this way of eating less overwhelming. It also allows them to better explore foods and develop their palates. If your baby is overwhelmed by more than one food on her plate, try serving one thing at a time, or giving her mono meals (one food per meal) for the short term.

-Do serve new and yet-to-like-it foods, but when doing so, always serve a familiar and well liked food beside it.

-If your baby still prefers bland, unseasoned food, set some aside for her before cooking the meal for the rest of the family.

-Have your baby sit at the table for 15 minutes before being excused, whether or not she eats or is finished. All too often, babies say they’re finished simply because they become bored, and not because they’re actually full. Oftentimes, babies will end up eating more after they initially asked to get down.

-Allow baby to feed herself. It might be messy, but having autonomy often makes the eating experience more pleasant for toddlers.

-Turn mealtimes into a fun bonding experience. Play games, sing rhymes, show baby interesting things - make meals a time your baby looks forward to spending with you.

-Take away the pressure. It can be really stressful for parents when their children won’t eat. That stress can be contagious. Remember that it’s your job to provide food and serve it to your baby; it’s your baby’s job to eat it. You cannot make your baby eat. You have to trust her. As long as your baby’s healthy, she will eat. Healthy children do not starve themselves. You’ve taken her to the doctor, who’s found everything to be in order. Now, you have to give it time and trust your baby to know her body. I’ve known one year olds who barely ate solids, and even some who were briefly underweight as a result. They all developed healthy appetites and gained weight in the end. Sometimes, it just takes time.


Once you’ve introduced this new eating rhythm and your baby has become accustomed to it, you can try weaning the nighttime feedings. If you want to use a gentler method to help baby sleep through the night, you can try either delaying when you feed her, so that she has her night feed a little later every few nights until she’s not having it till the morning; or, you can try substitutions, such diluting formula or milk until it’s just water, and then simply comforting her without a bottle at all. The trick in both cases is to gradually make the desire to wake up unavailable, so that baby will eventually just keep sleeping instead of waking up for something she won’t be given.
 
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