Q&A: nursing and teething 7-month-old

Mary writes:

"I have recently started introducing solids to my breastfed,19 lb., 7 month old son. With this introduction (2-3 oz./ 3x a day...on good days), I have found that he can go 3-4 hours between nursing sessions. Is this acceptable? I am just worried about juggling his new solid food feeding schedule with his once pretty stable nursing schedule (every 2-3 hours). Also, he has recently acquired 2 pearly whites...and his once restful 10-12 hour a night sleep time has been interrupted with 3-4 nighttime squawking/crying sessions. Is this due to teething and if so, what do i do? Right now, I just make sure he is A-ok and put a pacifier near his hand and he pops it right in...i do not nurse during this time. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated :)"

Some kids stop nursing as much when they start eating solids, while others keep on nursing just as much as ever. Before a year old, a baby's main nutrition is still breastmilk or formula, with solids just for practice. So I'd monitor how much he's nursing, but not necessarily by how often he nurses. If he's still nursing plenty (a few good sessions a day), and doesn't seem to be trying to give it up in favor of solids, then I wouldn't worry about the longer times between nursing sessions. If you really are concerned about it, you could offer the breast before every solids-feeding session.

Bear in mind that many kids go forward and back with interest in solids, so he might be really into them this month, but then refuse and only want to nurse next month. That's very normal, too.

Teething-related sleep disturbances usually happen before the teeth pop out, so I don't think he's waking up because of the teeth he just got. I wonder if he's working on some more teeth right now and that's what's causing the waking. You could try giving him some homeopathic teething tablets (either the lactose-based Hylands tablets--not the worthless gel, or the sugar-based Humphrey's #3 tablets) before bed--they'll dissolve in his mouth and don't have any side effects. If it's actual pain they won't do anything, but they're remarkably effective for taking the jittery, cranky edge off a teething baby.

If what you're doing at night to soothe him is working, then don't mess with it! Unfortunately, he's still too small to be able to find his own pacifier in the middle of the night (even the Avent ones with the glow-in-the-dark rings), so you'll probably still have to be in the loop until he goes through whatever this thing is that's waking him up. (It could also be his body learning to crawl, but you'll be able to tell that sooner than later if you come in and he's on hands and knees in the crib.)

It sounds like you're doing everything right, but he's just going through a couple of transition phases with the food and the teething. It's probably going to stay confusing and a little sleepless for another few weeks until he gets over these new humps. Cut yourself a little slack, and see if you can get to bed a little earlier to help make up for the middle-of-the-night wakings.