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Archive for Baby Behaviour

Dummies for babies!!

As a Midwife and Child Health Nurse who works closely with babies, I’ve learnt  a thing or two about the use of dummies that I would like to share with you. The decision to use one or not will be then up to you.

Not all babies take to sucking a dummy but there are certainly babies who do benefit.

Seven positive reasons for a baby to use a dummy

  1. Babies 3 to 4-weeks old who attach and feed well from the breast may at times need to keep sucking for comfort or stress relief. This is when a dummy can come in handy to give your nipples a rest. It is however, important not to substitute a breast feed for a dummy as this can reduce milk production resulting in an undernourished and unsettled baby
  2. A baby sucking a dummy can reduce tummy discomfort, cranial discomfort and wind pain. However, by aiding the digestive process this then can cause them to become hungrier earlier
  3. Provide pain relief when hurt or when having an immunization
  4. Sucking a dummy can reduce the pain of gastro oesophageal reflux allowing for a bit more sleep for everyone!
  5. Recent knowledge indicates a baby sucking a dummy can reduce the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). This is thought to be due to a baby being in a more alert state of sleep and having their airways in a more open position allowing for better air entry. There are also other factors relating to the reduction of SIDS
  6. Premature babies are given dummies to help them suck when they are fed via a tube and to stimulate their suck before they are able to breast feed efficiently. Research indicates this helps reduces their stay in NICU
  7. A baby who settles to sleep easier with a sucking action. Commonly, a baby who is fed milk from a bottle requires a dummy to increase sucking time each day.

Seven reasons why a baby is disadvantaged using a dummy

  1. An increased risk of bacterial infections. Sterilise dummies daily and throw out ones with cracks or worn areas where bacteria can settle
  2. Using a dummy after 4 to 5-months can set up strong sleep associations that can lead to unsettled sleep in the months that follow
  3. Regular and frequent use of a dummy has been shown to decrease the length of time a mother will continue to breast feed
  4. Too much dummy sucking may make a baby too tired for milk feeds
  5. Sucking a dummy after 9-months may disturb good sleep patterns if used for settling to sleep or interfere with speech development if used during the day
  6. It’s a choking hazard if faulty or worn out
  7. Sucking on a dummy when your baby could be awake and babbling restricts the natural development of language.

Which dummy to choose? 

There are many dummies on the market and it can be difficult to know which one is best.

  1. Look for the dummy that is soft and supple. The brown latex rubber is usually the softest
  2. Choose a shape that is similar to your nipple, this is usually the round cherry or bulb shaped dummy, large or small
  3. It needs to be large enough to reach the soft palate in your baby’s mouth but not too far back to touch the ‘gag reflex‘. This will depend on the size of your baby’s mouth

With the above information in mind, there is a place for dummies for some babies, providing that it is an appropriate dummy used at an appropriate time and preferably for the first 4-months of life when a baby’s strong sucking reflex is present. After this age (with guidance) babies discover other ways to soothe themselves and dummies can be discarded.

You will make the right decision for your baby. Don’t feel guilty with the decision to use a dummy or not.

If you like this information you will love

‘Mum, Baby & Toddler – together we learn’

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Managing Twins in the Early Months

By Jan Murray

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Finding out you are having more than one baby at the same time creates all sorts of emotions, questions and physical changes for both you and your partner. But take heart, many parents have enjoyed the journey and have thrived amidst the chaos.

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Once you are all home from hospital, there is no one way to do things when parenting multiples. Every baby, every parent and every family environment is individual and you do what is best for your family at the time. However, there are some basic tips and techniques that can help with the unique challenges you face. For example, if your babies are different weights or one has a health concern and the other doesn’t, you would usually need to feed them at different times or in different ways for a while. If your babies have different temperaments that require different settling techniques, you will learn what technique works best. Managing these issues in the early days is easier with an extra pair of hands but if you don’t have anyone to help, make it easy for yourself by using gadgets such as swings, a light stroller for moving the babies around in the house, dummies and rockers. Carry slings are a wonderful investment, even with twins. Wear an unsettled twin or when two adults are available, use two slings and go for a walk.

Low birth-weight babies (as multiples often are) may have difficulty regulating their temperature and have minimal subcutaneous fat layers to keep them warm. Therefore, ensure rooms are warm (around 24°C) and that you have plenty of suits and bedding made of natural fibres. Synthetic materials trap in heat and can cause overheating.

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Buy plenty of nappies! Your babies will need nappy changes every two to five hours. You could be looking at a hundred to a hundred and twenty nappies per week or 5,000-6,000 per year. In fact, why not put in a request for packs of nappies or reusable nappy pants and liners (in a variety of sizes) for your baby shower?

Large swaddling wraps of 100 per cent cotton are an excellent tool for establishing good sleeping patterns during the early months. Your babies will generally be happy sleeping together in the same cot or ‘co-sleeper attachment’ until around four months old but you can have them in separate bassinettes from day one if you choose. Have them sleep in your bedroom, or close by, in the early months as you will be up several times feeding overnight. Avoid the babies developing cranial flat spots by changing what side of each other they sleep on or sit on when in the stroller.

When breastfeeding, you may need to support and position babies on a pillow while they are small. A pillow will also take the strain off your wrists, arms, back, and shoulders. It is usually easier to master the art of breastfeeding one baby at a time before trying tandem feeding, which is where both babies feed at the same time. A couch, bed or floor provides the most space for this type of feeding. Some babies swap breasts and some stay on the same side. With multiples it is best to seek professional lactation advice during the early days of feeding as good attachment and feeding comfort is vital for the ongoing success of breastfeeding.

Bathing twins in the same bath is impossible to perform safely on your own. If you are bathing them alone, the easiest and safest spot would be on the floor or a large dining room table or kitchen bench (before they can roll),and have all the bathing items at your fingertips. You could bath babies one after the other at the same time each day or every few days. You could also bath one baby at a time after different feeds each day or on alternate days. Your personal hygiene is also important but some days you may not get a shower and actually end up staying in your pj’s all day! Other days you’ll get organised and grab a shower before your partner goes to work or during the babies’ first morning sleep.

You are your babies’ first and most important teacher but don’t worry if you feel you don’t have time. Attending to their needs with your gentle touch, warm smile and soothing voice says a lot but if it all becomes too difficult, seek professional advice from your GP. Your babies need you to be healthy.

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The first months home from hospital are going to be tough. Parenting multiples can be an overwhelming responsibility so there will probably be crying from you as well as your babies. Join the local Multiple Birth Association for support and accept any offers of help. Don’t just say thanks for the offer. Pin offers of help down to a time and action something straight away. Employ help if you can and give yourself time to adapt.

For more information ‘Twins & More’

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Summer with a Newborn

By Jan Murray

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The Australian summer can bring extremely hot weather that lasts for months. The heat can be humid with rain or dry with wind and no rain. Whatever kind of summer you experience the effects of hot temperatures can be stressful for you and dangerous for newborns. Keeping cool yourself helps babies feel relaxed and comfortable; try cooling down with frequent quick showers and regular cold drinks.

Newborns are unable to regulate their body temperature like adults do, which leaves them at risk of overheating and dehydrating. Babies can become too hot internally when lost liquids are not adequately replaced. Newborns lose fluids regularly from weeing, pooing, vomiting and perspiring and the lack of liquid causes little bodies to dehydrate and overheat. When dehydration is severe the risk of heatstroke and SIDS is increased. Keep an eye on the bottom end. Newborns need to have at least six wet nappies in a twenty-four hour period—less than six is an indication that babies are becoming dry. Newborns may poo after every feed or only every few days or so. Poo should not be hard pebbles as this is constipation and a sign of not enough fluid. Offer babies extra liquid at regular intervals during the day. Either extra short breast feeds or if using infant formula give cooled boiled water between milk feeds.

Humid, hot, and airless environments cause fungal infections to thrive. Keep a check on places such as the nappy area, under baby’s chin, between creases and folds, as well as your nipple area. You can reduce the risk of thrush developing by regularly exposing these areas to air and keeping them clean and dry; if you are breastfeeding, eating yoghurt and reducing your yeast and sugar intake can also help. When reddened areas won’t go away with these measures seek professional advice.

Skin-to-skin contact is important for newborn development but it can make you both hot and sticky. When breast feeding on steamy days, if you place a wet cloth under your arm or around the back of your neck, and a small cotton cloth between you and your baby it can make feeding a little more comfortable.

Water is cooling. Ensure babies have a sponge down with a wet cloth, bath or shower at least daily. Wet your hand or a washer with lukewarm water and regularly wipe over bubs head on really hot days. If infant skin is dry, add a little natural oil to the bath water or moisturise the skin after a bath.

While feeling hot can make anyone irritable, the heat can also make it particularly difficult for newborns to settle and go to sleep. But don’t worry, there are some things that you can do to help keep them cool. Increase airflow in the cot by using a firm cotton mattress and remove any waterproof protectors, as these hold in heat. Spread a towel over the mattress under the sheet to absorb perspiration and be sure to remove any unnecessary bedding, toys and bumpers from the cot. Use natural cotton or bamboo fabric for clothes and bedding as synthetic materials trap heat and can cause babies to overheat.

For additional cooling, if you don’t have the luxury of air-conditioning, drape wet towels and a dish of water in front of an oscillating fan. Dress babies in only a nappy and light cotton wrap to sleep. When regulating an air-conditioner, take into account their fat layers, prematurity and general health, and set temperature to around 24°C. At this heat, babies would need a loose sleep-suit and swaddling wrap and perhaps another cotton blanket over the top. If bub is too hot his head will be sweaty as this is where newborns loose heat. Because babies loose heat from the head, place their feet at the end of the cot, which allows air flow around the head—this is also in line with SIDS safe sleeping recommendations.

If your house is hot, escape in an air-conditioned car or to an air-conditioned shopping centre or library for a break. When going for a walk, avoid going between 10am and 3pm as this is when the sun is most harmful. Avoid having babies in a stroller for too long as these tend to be hot and airless. This also applies to the car restraint when the car is stopped. These contraptions can heat up very quickly and cause body temperatures to rapidly rise, which can put babies at risk of a febrile convulsion. It is also important to use UV protectors on windows and over strollers to stop the sun’s strong rays from burning delicate skin.

Enjoy summertime with your newborn but remain alert to the hazards of heat. Seek professional help if your baby has less than six wet nappies in a twenty-four hour period, has dark circles under dry eyes, hot dry skin, sunken fontanels (soft spot on his head) a dry mouth and tongue or is floppy and difficult to arouse.

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance.

Baby Poo What’s Normal

Baby poo is a good indicator of how your baby is tolerating feeding. Therefore, it is a good idea to know what normal baby poo looks like.

What does normal baby poo look like?

A newborn’s first bowel movement is greenish-black, thick and sticky. These first poos consist of epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water, which are intestinal substances that an unborn foetus ingests while in the womb.

As a newborn begins to ingest colostrum (mother’s first breast liquid), breast milk and or infant formula poo will change from greenish-black to dark brown that is less sticky.

When a baby is breastfeeding the poo will progress to a mustard colour containing tiny, white, grainy seed-like pieces.  It is a loose consistency and can occur at every nappy change or every few days or even up to 14 days. Unlike formula fed babies, it is rare for breast fed babies to get constipated.

When a baby is regularly ingesting infant formula poo is a pasty consistency and often green in colour (each brand of infant formula creates a slightly different variation of the colour green). Bowel movements can be less frequent than a breast fed baby but he will need to be passing a poo every day or every second day to avoid getting constipated.

Do you need a routine? ‘Suggested Daily Routines’ eBook

A baby that is breastfeed with top ups of infant formula will have a variation in-between these two poos, which will depend on the ratio of breast milk to formula.

What does abnormal baby poo look like?

ABNORMAL BABY POOP INDICATES THE NEED FOR FURTHER ASSESSMENT BY A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.

1. Green frothy poo and possibly associated with irritability, bloating, wind and nappy rash
2. Very liquid consistency with no white seedy bits
3. Poo is a pebble like consistency
4. A formula fed baby who has not passed a poo for 3 or more days
5. Poo with streaks of blood in it
6. Green poo with a stringy egg white consistency
7. Projectile vomiting after 3 consecutive feeds associated with no bowel movement

Moving on: Introducing solids to your baby

When thinking about introducing solids to your baby, my eBook ‘taste it’  provides answers to your questions and easy and nutritional first food ideas.

or read more about what is normal in a developing baby by downloading my eBook
‘Mum, Baby & Toddler – together we learn’

Jan Murray has committed to studying and working as a Registered Nurse, Midwife and Child Health Nurse for over 25 years. Jan is a mother of 5 and co-founded and directs Settle Petal. Through her business Jan provides information and support for parents with babies and toddlers to develop their knowledge base and confidence. Receive your FREE Routines eBook at http://myoptinpage.com/?pid=2151223 to help babies settle, sleep and grow.

Ways to Bond With Your Baby

By Jan Murray

The strong bonds of attachment between you and your baby don’t just happen because you physically care for your baby.  Bonding is more than providing care; it’s the unspoken connection that develops and grows between you and your baby as you regularly change his nappy, give him a bath, feed him, and play with him. It’s the emotional connection that develops between you that helps him feel understood, safe, and secure and not alone, insecure, and scared. When your baby can touch and feel you, hear you, or see you he feels secure and this beautiful connection is what helps him learn to trust. Trusting in you and the people who are closest to him helps your little one feel secure to explore more of his world.

 

Many parents think they will fall-in-love and have an instant connection with their baby the moment their baby is born but bonding doesn’t always happen that way. In fact, sometimes falling-in-love and feeling connected with your newborn takes hours, day, weeks, or even months to develop.

If your baby was born premature and spent periods of time away from you in the special care unit or you had a traumatic birth or were suffering from extreme exhaustion after a long labour, bonding with your baby can be difficult. Often there is no physical reason that makes bonding difficult but there could be family conflicts and challenges. Sometimes there is no explainable reason for the delay in bonding, it’s just the way it is but as you spend time together, you and your baby will bond and grow closer. However, if you feel you are not connecting with your newborn it’s important to seek professional help as the early bonds of attachment are vital for your little one’s future development so it’s best not to wait too long before you get advice and support.

From the moment she is born your little one is eager to learn and so making a connection with various senses in the early days helps her feel secure. You can focus on engaging her senses separately or you can combine a few at the same time but don’t overdo it as her nervous system is immature and sensitive and she can become overwhelmed and unsettled.

The sense of smell is strong even at birth and draws your little one towards the sweet smell of breast milk. Giving your little one cuddles and skin-to-skin contact allows her become familiar with your personal scent.

Touch is your newborn’s first language so make the most of connecting with each other through touch. Your touch speaks confidence and security to her as you bathe her, change her nappy, feed her, massage her, and cuddle up close, or when you wear her in a sling. She is also calmed by the sense of movement and will be soothed by gentle swaying, rocking or bouncing.

The sense of hearing is another way you can bond with your baby. Infants are calmed by the rhythmical patterns of your voice as you read, sing or talk to her. However, be understanding and sensitive to your baby’s needs. If she is overtired she may not be soothed with singing and bright light at the same time as a bath or massage. It’s often too much stimulation in her already overloaded nervous system.

Although the sense of sight is slower to develop in your baby than the other senses, she can still connect and bond with you through her eyes. In the early weeks she will be able to focus on your face at about arms distance so look into her eyes and make eye contact while you hold or feed her—it will help her feel comforted and reassured. Your newborn will start to smile at you at around 5weeks of age so be sure to smile back as a smile releases feel-good chemicals for both you and your baby. The facial expressions that you make towards your baby are very important as they confirm and clarify feelings about other people and situations. After 6weeks of age try dimming the lights at sleep time as this helps your littlie feel calm and secure when she needs to sleep. Understanding how to satisfy your little ones developmental needs is an important part of bonding so as she gets older provide more activity time with varieties of colours, shapes, and activities.

The emotional connection between you and your baby is strong, which means your baby can often be unsettled if you are feeling anxious or stressed. So while you are learning to connect and bond with your baby try not to aim for perfection. Instead, aim to balance the needs of your baby while looking after yourself. Accept support from friends and family and if you are struggling seek professional help early as the bonds you create with your little one influence the way she will live and cope in the future.

References:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/secure-attachment/how-to-build-a-secure-attachment-bond-with-your-baby.htm

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/connecting_with_your_newborn.html/context/280

Separation Anxiety

Ever had a ‘Velcro baby’ where she’d hold tight and not let you go? You’d step away and she’d cry and reach out for you in a desperate attempt to go with you. Even going to the bathroom or having a shower proved difficult without your baby dissolving into a flood of distressed tears. You probably found that these acts of insecurity were heightened when she was unwell, teething, tired or hungry.

It’s normal behaviour at certain ages

But don’t panic—it’s a normal stage of developmental that occurs around seven to nine months of age. It’s a time when most babies start to crawl.

Handling a new stage of development

Your baby is developing ‘object permanence’ where just because something is out of sight and out of hearing doesn’t mean it no longer exists. Coupled with the new skill of crawling she takes herself away from her place of security, her primary carer (usually mum).

The passion to explore, plus her leap in brain development, makes her feel unsure whether she can get back to mum or that mum will come back to her. How you handle this period of separation anxiety will have a strong influence on how well your baby learns to separate.

Help baby adjust

To help your baby adjust, don’t always rescue her and pick her up and take her with you. Instead, help her feel comfortable with separating. Come back to her and play for a few more minutes before going again. As you leave the room, let her see that you feel confident saying goodbye. Talk to her in an upbeat tone as you leave, assuring her that she’s ok and that you’ll be coming back to her. This is the same when leaving her at day care or grandmas. Give her time to feel comfortable in the company of a new carer before you leave. It will help her to separate with a minimum of distress. Avoid sneaking away, always say goodbye otherwise an unexpected disappearance can leave your baby wondering when and if you will return, which builds mistrust and feelings of insecurity.

Baby’s temperament

Temperament has a major impact on how she copes with this stage of her development. You may have already noticed one of the three temperaments[i] (easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm) in babies that you know, and recognised the different ways they handle change.

Home environment

The harmony of the home environment and whether dad works away for extended periods, also impacts on her ability to separate

Separation anxiety returns

‘Object permanence’ isn’t completely established until two years old, which means your toddler may go through this stage of separation anxiety again at around 15 to 18 months old. At this age your toddler’s inquisitive nature and spirit reaches a new level that often causes the clingy behaviour and distress of separating from significant carers to reoccur. This is because her brain development has taken another leap and her understanding of the world has changed. At this age your toddler has an amazing grasp of language and can understand what you say, even if she can’t say it back yet. For this reason, talk to her, tell her what is happening, where you are going, and when you will be back. Wave goodbye and eventually she’ll associate going away with coming back.[ii]

Keep her life stable and help her through this period of insecurity and uncertainly. Have a regular routine, feed her healthy food and encourage good day and night sleep patterns. Stay calm yourself knowing this time will pass.

Bub can also experience separation anxiety at bedtime, as this is a period of long separation. Avoid cry-it-out strategies to encourage sleep during these times as this will only cause more distress. ‘Putting them to Sleep[iii] eBook has alternative bedtime strategies for you to try. Again, temperament and the family environment are factors that interfere with her ability to manage separating, leaving her to cling for longer.

While separation anxiety can prove difficult for you and your child, try to accept that it’s a normal stage of brain maturity and infant development, and remain patient, encouraging and reassuring. Be sensitive to individual temperament and needs.

Push away or hold on tight

Try not to push her away too soon or hold on too tight for too long, as this can hinder the developmental process of independence and self-assurance. Avoid comparing your baby with others of the same age as every child and every environment is different and as always seek professional help if you feel that separation is an ongoing problem.

References:

[i] Peterson, 2004 referred to in (Burton, 2011, Psychology)

[ii] http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=141&id=1848

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Baby Sleep Techniques

By Jan Murray

Sleep is a natural biological rhythm but sleeping well is a skill that takes time to develop.

Sleep habits develop from birth and are a combined result of nature (genes and developmental milestones) and nurture (parental guidance and support).

Infant sleep ‘training’ techniques are used to help babies get to sleep or stay asleep. Working out what technique to choose can be difficult because all sleep ‘training’ techniques can work. However, some only work in specific circumstances and some suit some babies and parents more than others.

Consider your baby’s age, temperament, ‘goodness-of-fit’ with your temperament, health, and the environment in which he lives before you choose a suitable technique.

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Until 4-months of age your newborn has immature sleep/ wake rhythms, he needs frequent milk feeds and has reduced mental capacity, which makes him unable to respond to all techniques.

Types of techniques

Sleep ‘training’ techniques are divided into two groups:

The first techniques were based on extinction. These include: (a) cry it out, (b) controlled crying, (c) camping out, and (d) the chair method (works best with toddlers older than 16-months).

The more recent techniques are cue-based techniques. These include: (a) responsive settling and (b) hands on settling.

All babies, environments and situations are different. Cue-based techniques are more gentle than extinction techniques but that’s not to say extinction techniques are wrong. In fact, in some situations with strong-willed infants extinction gets results quicker and is less frustrating for everyone. Conversely, extinction may not work if your baby needs more touch and reassurance to calm and sleep. Some babies self-soothe and re-settle overnight easier than others who need support or sleep-props to enter sleep and resettle.

Different situations different techniques

Controlled-crying/ comforting (intermittent comforting) is not used for babies less than 6-months of age and needs a plan outlined by your child health professional. It won’t work if it is done randomly. The technique is tough going so make sure you have support around you. Ensure bub is healthy, there are no distractions in the cot, and all outside commitments are on-hold for 4-days. Work on both day and night sleeps. This technique works quickly when used for the right baby at the right age with the right emotional commitment but can backfire and cause added stress and insecurity, for all concerned, if it’s not the appropriate choice.

Camping-out (sleep alongside bubs cot) is a good technique if you don’t want to leave the room and bub wants you close. You often don’t need to do anything, it’s your mere presence that helps your baby feel secure enough to drift off to sleep. As your baby gets older and more confident with sleep (around 16-months) this technique becomes the chair method and you can slowly move out of the room.

Responsive-settling tunes in to infant cries. It takes focused listening and being close to give comfort and support when needed. Sometimes it will be a cuddle and other times a shhh pat in the cot to help your baby drift off to sleep.

Hands-on-settling involves your comforting touch at all times. It could involve stroking the forehead or applying gentle pressure over the chest and legs with or without a rocking action. Both these gentle techniques work well but can be irritating when used for babies that don’t enjoy constant touch or when you are anxious.

It takes time

It takes your baby about 20-minutes of light sleep to fall into deep sleep. Get to know your baby and how you can help him settle and sleep. Give her time to form a habit (4-days to 3-weeks depending on age and circumstance). Consult your child health professional for personalised advice if you and your baby are struggling to get sleep.

References:

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/controlled_comforting.html https://www.tresillian.org.au/

http://www.karitane.com.au/

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems

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http://psychology.org.au/inpsych/2014/April/Blunden/

Is it Really Teething?

By Jan Murray

By the time your baby turns two years old she’ll have a mouthful of beautiful pearly white teeth. For some infants these eruptions arrive with considerable discomfort while for others they appear without any give-away signs or symptoms at all. There is no way of telling who will suffer specific symptoms and who won’t. However, there seems to be a genetic link of ear infections with teething, largely due to the shape and slope of the Eustachian tube.

Most baby teeth break through at around 6 to 10months of age. However, it is not unusual to see first teeth appear as early as 4months of age. Very occasionally, babies are born with a tooth but these are generally loosely embedded and need removing.

While it is obvious that teeth appear at different ages, there is inconsistency between health professionals as to what signs and symptoms are directly associated with teething and what comforting remedies are safe and useful to use. Over the years of working with many babies and first-hand experience of raising five of my own children, I have definitely seen teething related signs and symptoms but whether these have been due to other causes has not always been clear.

For this reason, each episode of suspected teething symptoms should be given individual attention with the diagnoses of ‘teething’ as only one of many possibilities.

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It is very common to hear parents use excessive gnawing and drooling as a sign that their baby is teething. However, this increased drooling and oral exploration naturally occurs as part of infant development around 4months of age and lasts until about 9 to 10months of age; the period in which teeth tend to erupt.

Increased saliva (drool) is produced to aid digestion but babies’ mechanical process of swallowing is not sufficiently developed resulting in the overflow of excess drool. Babies’ increased oral motor ability improves by 9months and drooling is consequently reduced. But whether drool is part of teething or not, saliva does have properties that cool and lubricate the gums bringing comfort for many babies who are teething. Moisturising the face with suitable non-fragrant creams can prevent cheek, chin and neck rashes developing from exposure to excess saliva. Gnawing and biting down on anything gives counter-pressure and pain relief to erupting teeth so make sure you provide cold washers and hard toys to bite on.

Large amounts of saliva contain increased amounts of enzymes necessary for digestion, which may upset your baby’s digestive system. This can cause her bowel actions to be loose and offensive, and she’ll often refuse to eat. Her poo can be quite acidic making her bottom sore and red, which can turn fungal if not given regular nappy free time and her skin not protected with a natural barrier cream.

With a disrupted digestive system, ear aches and painful gums just before teeth erupt, your baby can feel miserable, irritable, and insecure making her clingy. Giving her extra cuddles during this time can go a long way in providing the comfort and reassurance she needs. Cuddle comforts should come before using any of the increasing varieties of natural and pharmaceutical remedies on the market for teething relief. However, if you do choose to use teething remedies, use only with professional instruction and avoid using any on a long term basis.

Your baby’s unsettled days often lead to unsettled nights but rarely is teething the cause of poor sleep if your baby is happy and content during the day. Teething pain is generally not causing night waking but it can prevent him from going back to sleep after waking for other reasons. Hunger or the reliance on props such as dummies, feeding, and rocking to settle to sleep are common reasons for night waking from 6months.

A clear nasal discharge is another common symptom often associated with cutting teeth. Nevertheless, it is also important to consider other possible childhood illnesses because from 6months of age the maternal antibodies provided from birth have reduced in your baby’s system, lowering her immune levels, leaving her more susceptible to illness in general.

When teething, gums can be inflamed and swollen or bluish from an underlying haematoma. Hence, a low grade fever is not uncommon with teething as fever is the body’s reaction to all inflammation. Fever lasts about 24 hours and occurs just as teeth push through the gum. A higher fever (above 40°C) or a lower fever lasting for longer than three days requires further professional assessment. Suspected teething or not, always be alert to any deterioration in behaviour, low urine output and lethargy, and seek medical assistance immediately.

Teething often gets the blame for disruptive behaviours but don’t use teething as an excuse and forget to consider other causes for night waking, fever, digestive issues, biting, and irritable behaviour. Seek advice from your child health professional if any ‘teething symptoms’ persist for weeks with no teeth to show for the abnormal symptoms and irritable behaviour.

References:

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/3/471.full.pdf+html

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/4/747

http://smartpediatricadvice.com/teething

http://www.moderndentistrymedia.com/sept_oct2010/tsang.pdf

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Teething

By Jan Murray

Teething gets the blame for many things but is it really justified? Here are a few things to think about when it comes to teething.

When babies feed well, sleep well and happily play without any problems during the day, teething is unlikely to be the cause for a disturbed night sleep.

If babies or toddlers are in a habit of waking at night, teething discomfort can make it harder for them to settle back to sleep but is generally not the cause of the waking.

Babies go through a developmental change around three to four months old. They begin to drool, put their fingers in their mouth or even try to shove their whole fist in. While drooling moistens the mouth ready for teething it is not necessarily a sign that teeth are imminent. Babies that dribble copious amounts of saliva often cut teeth with ease and with less associated pain.

When to expect teeth

It is not uncommon for baby teeth to start showing at four months old but more often they poke through around seven to nine months old. Occasionally teeth don’t appear until after twelve months old and although rare, some bubs are born with a tooth.

In some babies, the first sign of a tooth is when they bite down on a finger when playing or a nipple while feeding. Other babies suffer ear infections and are miserable for a few days before a tooth erupts.

Baby teeth usually erupt in pairs – one appearing a few days after the other.

teeth-chart

This chart shows a sequence that baby teeth are expected to appear, but it is not uncommon for teeth to show up in a different order. The first teeth predicted to appear are the two lower central incisors (cutting teeth) followed by the two upper central incisors. Next are the four incisors either side. If bub has followed this sequence they will be proudly showing off eight pearly white pegs by twelve months old. The four back molars (chewing teeth) are next to appear and may cause a little more pain and discomfort coming through than earlier teeth. The four canines (pointy teeth) are next, followed by the other four back molars, often referred to as two year old molars. That makes a mouthful of twenty teeth by the time they are around two years old.

Baby teeth are eventually pushed out by adult teeth growing up. It’s possible for second teeth to come through decayed if baby teeth are not looked after.

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Picture from www.healthtap.com

Signs and symptoms

The following signs and symptoms suggest that teeth are on the way. Babies are a little more grizzly and clingy and may have a clear nasal discharge and dark pink puffy gums. Some babies experience ear infections while others have a slight fever just as teeth erupt. Drooling, as mentioned earlier, is associated with a developmental phase that is happening while bub is teething. Dry red cheeks may be present but not necessarily a symptom of teething.  Smelly, poo and an angry red nappy rash may be present. Babies and toddlers may be off solid food but there is no need to worry as the enjoyment of eating will return. Babies and toddlers may experience all, some or none of these signs and symptoms of teething.

Give comfort

When babies are teething you can help them feel more comfortable by giving them cold drinks and foods – use a feeding net if they are too young to handle solid food. Reduce the risk of biting you and their play mates by giving them something to chomp on like a large cold chicken bone, lamb bone, a cold solid teething ring, wooden toy or a slightly dampened washer that has been cooled in the freezer. There are natural remedies such as amber necklaces, topical gels, oils, powders and mixtures that work systemically to reduce fever, pain and induce calm. Make sure you get professional instruction for how and where to use these products. If your littlie is having a particularly bad day and won’t be comforted by these suggested measures, administer an anti- inflammatory or analgesic medication recommended by your local pharmacist.

Provide babies and toddlers with a healthy diet and a balanced and settled day. This will help reduce the poor behaviour that teething often gets the blame for.

All children are different when it comes to what helps when teething so keep positive while you try to find a remedy that works best for your child.

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. 

Spring is in the Air

By Guest blogger Kylie Lannan

walking

Spring has arrived and with it comes some terrific opportunities for your child’s development as well as expanding their experience of the outdoors.

It is my favorite time of year here in Brisbane. It is a great time to get out and about; exploring parks, beaches and many places in between. However, often with this outdoor fun come some hazards that we as parents must be diligent about. In particular we must be constantly alert near water around the home and in public places. Babies and young children are inquisitive by nature and this can put them in danger or result in a tragic accident.

On the flip side I feel that this need for alert puts fear in parents, which at times drives us to be overprotective of our children. How expectations on parents have changed when comparing to the way my parents allowed me to play and explore as a young child. I remember playing with friends down at the local creek, going to visit the horses in a local orchard and playing hide and seek around the neighborhood. Very different to suburban living in 2014 where there are so many more dangers both real and perceived. It is such a balancing act for parents today to find that middle ground which allows their children to explore and keep them safe at the same time.

Spring also means children’s tender skin is exposed to the harsh Australian sun. On one hand we need sunlight for good health however sunburn is painful and harmful to children’s delicate skin. Research has linked childhood sun exposure to developing skin cancer later in life so precautions must be taken to minimize skin exposure. A safe environment requires that parents be diligent and to follow the Cancer Council of Australia’s message of “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.” Hat, sunscreen, shirt, shade and slide on sunglasses are the actions we need to take to protect our skin from the harsh sun.

An enormous amount of development both physical and emotional occurs when children can “run free” outside. By allowing children to play independently allows them to take safe risks. Children need to be allowed and in fact encouraged to take educated or safe risks such as climbing a tree. It is important for their development and confidence however it does go against a parent’s instinct to protect their child. As long as children are taking these risks in a safe environment they will feel well supported if it doesn’t work out. It will help them get back up and have another go but of course it usually means there will be some scrapes along the way. By always helping and protecting our children we are inhibiting their ability to gaining resilience. This is what helps all of us get up and have another go when things don’t work out the first time. This is a vital life skill that we all need.

The outdoors can be an overwhelming place for some children and they may need the help of parents to navigate their way. However try not to “do” for them just guide them; let them climb trees, jump from rocks or dig in the dirt. It is all part of their learning and developing. Have fun with them and enjoy being outdoors this spring.

Happy Parenting

Kylie (Settle Petal consultant – Brisbane)

This article was endorsed by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. 

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