Teething: a survival guide

By admin
14 April 2014

Oh, the terrible teething period! It’s enough to make most moms break out in a cold sweat. The tears, the sleepless nights (for baby and mom) and the feeling of helplessness as you watch your baby struggle leave most moms desperate for help. We spoke to three well-known experts and put together this teething survival guide for you.

Oh, the terrible teething period! It’s enough to make most moms break out in a cold sweat. The tears, the sleepless nights (for baby and mom) and the feeling of helplessness as you watch your baby struggle, leave most moms desperate for help. We spoke to Sister Lilian Paramor (of The Sister Lilian Centre), Sister Lorraine Mey and paediatrician Dr Alison Baxter and put together this teething survival guide for you.

Stay calm

However helpless you feel while your baby is teething, it’s good to remember there’s nothing you can do to make baby’s teeth come out faster. If lack of sleep for both baby and mom are making you both feel even more anxious, find someone to give you a hand on the worst days. Dr Baxter recommends a good support system for moms. “Someone should be available to help with the baby during the day so [mom] can catch up on some sleep,” she suggests.

Old wives’ tales

What all moms should remember is teething is different for each baby. There are many old wives’ tales such as putting an egg in a sock or drilling a hole in a coin and pinning it to your child’s jersey. Although fascinating, none of these tales have been proven to help your baby through the teething phase. The best thing to do is simply be aware of your child and be as clued up about teething as possible. And then stick to the routine that works best for you and your baby.

When teething isn’t the problem

Sister Mey says, “Remember that teething is a natural process. Moms tend to fall into the trap of blaming everything on teething. A child can’t be happy during the day and then all of a sudden upset at night. If a baby is sick, they are sick 24/7 and if the child is teething, they are teething 24/7. You must realise the difference between being sick and teething, if your baby has a temperature of above 38 degrees your baby is not teething. They might be sick; consult a doctor.”

Help alleviate the pain

Our experts suggest the following remedies for painful teething:

  • Give baby an iced lolly to suck on; they’re old enough (freeze rooibos tea or fresh fruit juices).
  • Teething rings are great to gnaw on.
  • Put teething gel or powder on a clean finger and rub on the gums.
  • If baby teethes very slowly and with great difficulty, the tissue salt remedy calc phos

(calcium phosphate) should be given to ease the process.

  • Baby might not feel like eating while teething. Be patient about the return to a full diet; their appetite will improve as they start feeling better.
  • Loose stools associated with teething improve with camomile tablets and when given a probiotic.

Teething toys

There are many teething toys on the market. Many claim to help your child through the difficulties of teething.

As a holistic health practitioner, Sister Paramor is of the opinion teething necklaces work. “I do believe that many babies are helped by the age-old traditional remedy of amber teething necklaces and as a natural health practitioner, I believe that this effect might well have to do with the electromagnetic field of the mineral stone.”

But neither Sister Mey nor Dr Baxter believes teething necklaces can alleviate the problems associated with teething. However, they say some things work for some children and not for others because each child is different. Dr Baxter says, “Some parents believe the necklaces work, but there is no medical reason that indicates it works. If it does, it is probably due to a placebo effect.”

What about medication?

Sister Paramor: The Sister Lillian homeopathic remedy of camomile tablets is useful to treat most of the symptoms associated with teething, as is the tissue salt mag phos (magnesium phosphate). Calc phos tissue salt should be used if baby is an excessively slow teether. You can get these from most pharmacies or health stores.

Sister Mey: Only use teething medication when really needed and never in excess. A topical anaesthetic can be rubbed on baby’s gums and you can give some paracetemol for pain.

Dr Baxter: Try not to rely on medication but if really needed give ibuprofen for pain – but not every night. If the baby has a high fever and is excessively uncomfortable, consult your doctor. Don’t give your child Stilpane or Stopain tablets because it’s unsuitable for children under the age of two years old.

NB All medication should be administered as prescribed or indicated on the packaging and never for prolonged periods.

-Londiwe Dlomo

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