Monday, 12 September 2011

Baby's First Year- teeth

At some point in your baby's first year you'll begin gum watch. You'll know you have started gum watch when you find yourself staring at baby's little pink gums instead of baby's big, beautiful eye's!
For our little cherubs, gum watch started at about the 4 month mark, I would squint and peer at those little pink gums looking very hard for little white tooth buds. All three of my girls got their two bottom teeth at the same time and all within month 4!
Teething in baby's first year can be traumatic for parents as well as bub's and is surrounded by many ol' wives tales. So lets set the record straight.
Firstly teething does NOT make babies ill. It does NOT cause fevers or diarrhea or any such thing. Seriously, think about it for a minute, if your seven year old was growing in some adult teeth and became ill would you blame the teeth? Not a chance! So why do we do it to babies. Growing teeth DOES make some babies grumpy and make their little gums sore but it does NOT make them sick- got it? Good.
Fix anyone who tells you otherwise with your best mummy stare and, if it's a doctor, find a new one, now.

To help you baby through try some of these:

  • Give extra cuddles 
  • Try carrying your baby in a sling to keep them close, they can even sleep on you for a few days.
  • Give extra breastfeeds if it calms your baby (but not formula feeds, sorry)
  • Try an amber teething necklace
  • And for older babies- steam some carrot sticks and then freeze them. Give to your baby and let them exercise those sore gums on them (this tip was given to me years ago by Rhianna @ A parenting life)
  • As a last resort use pharmaceutical pain killers but only in bubs over three months and follow the directions closely!
 For bottle feeding and dummy/pacifier users you really need to start checking teats VERY carefully- sharp baby teeth can make light work of silicon and rubber teats. Sharp little teeth can make light work of nipples too!  Breastfeeding/nursing mothers need to be aware that their precious bundle may bite. In baby's first year this is very unlikely to be naughty or malicious- baby simply doesn't know that those new teeth are sharp!
Punishment is neither appropriate nor likely to help the issue.

A few things to try:
  • It may be the time to start removing your nipple from baby's mouth before they fall asleep. You would be surprised how tightly shut a sleeping baby's mouth can be!
  • Let out a yelp (in fact I dare you to try not to!) Baby may get the picture
  • If your baby bites often try gently removing them while saying "Ouch, that hurts mummy". Do something else for a while then resume the feed. Baby will likely get the picture
  • Be gentle and patient, your baby will learn quickly that his/her teeth can hurt you
Teeth do not necessarily mean that your baby is ready for food. Wait till the six month mark or take the advice of your early childhood nurse.

Once your baby has teeth you'll need to clean them. There are all sorts of tools on the market but simply wrapping a face washer/flannel around my finger and gently rubbing over the tooth and gums worked for me! To begin with you may not get far, but keep at it, healthy baby teeth are really important.

Most of all try not to letting teething become too big a drama, it will be over before you know it!

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