Dear Dr. Debbie,

My daughter was very late for getting her teeth. They’ve just starting coming in at 15 months. We’re up to 6. She used to be such a good eater, and a bit better sleeper, but she is refusing foods she used to like and is extra fussy.

Bananas and avocado chunks used to be favorite finger foods but all she wants is crackers and other carbs. Of course, the pediatrician says not to worry about it.

Worried Anyway

Dear WA,

Teething hurts. Your little one probably has sore gums which is putting her off from putting things in her mouth. Whether she’s still nursing or drinking from a cup or bottle, just let her have as much milk as she wants. Her teething pain will subside once all the front teeth are in. Likely her “two-year-old molars” won’t come for a year or so, so she, and you, will catch a break.

Of course her mouth pain, and perhaps some hunger, can account for troubled sleep. Growing happens most when children are sleeping, including growing new teeth. Do the best you can to lessen demands on yourself during this period of sleep deprivation. Stick close to home and close to her best routines for eating and sleeping as she works through the double challenge of a sore mouth and not enough good rest.

As for the bananas and avocados, she’s a tad early for this developmental stage – that of “eww, get it off my hands!” Around 18 months the nerve endings in the palms and fingertips become more sensitive. The mouth used to be the primary means of learning about objects in the world, but this next stage of learning uses a lot of touching. Her former favorite foods probably overwhelm her sense of touch with too much stickiness. Take advantage of summer weather to bring plastic tubs and bowls outside for water play! *

The craving for carbohydrates is right on time. Once children are smooth walkers, anywhere from 12 months to 18 months, they keep on walking, climbing, and running, during most of their day. This burns a lot of calories. Like athletes, toddlers require more carbohydrates than seem possible yet don’t gain weight. Just be sure to have whole grain crackers, noodles, pretzels, or whatever she prefers so she’ll get some extra vitamins and minerals she may be missing during this transition period.

Once her front teeth are all in, hopefully very soon, she may be happy to experiment with other non-sticky foods. And she will also be happier in general!

Dr. Debbie

*Come to Chesapeake Children’s Museum for Get Wet Day! Saturday or Sunday, July 13 or 14, from 1 to 2 pm. Come in your bathing suit and leave in your towel! Free with museum admission of $5 per person, ages 1 and up. Chesapeake Children’s Museum is located at 25 Silopanna Road, Annapolis, MD 21403. Contact: 410-990-1993 or [email protected]. 

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