It’s hard to remember how it felt to teethe when we were babies ourselves. The closest most of us come is to recall the sensation of getting wisdom teeth in our mid to late adolescent years. The swelling, sensitivity and general irritation can be a long-held memory. Not to mention the need to bite down on any food with a bit of resistance.
The truth is that no matter how much we try, there is a limit to how much we can do to help our babies having teething discomfort. Teething is a normal developmental stage which all babies grow through. Only the lucky few are exempt from experiencing some discomfort as their teeth erupt through their gums.
When teething, many babies go through stages of not wanting to eat particular foods, even their favourites. This change can be concerning to parents who are unclear why their baby’s intake of food has dropped.
It’s important to supervise your baby when they’re eating:
Rub some teething gel on your baby’s gums before mealtimes. Numbing agents tend to only be effective for a short time, so plan for best timing if you can. Always read the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.
Wash your hands and gently rub your baby’s gums before they eat. Use the pad of your thumb and rub with gentle pressure along their gum margin. Be prepared for them to have a little chomp while you’re doing this.
Expect less patience from your baby when they’re teething. Choose your moments to place them into their highchair, and don’t prolong mealtimes past the point of no return. Plan for short and efficient mealtimes which don’t end in tears.
Aim to feed your baby when they’re showing hunger signs rather than to a timed schedule. Teething can disrupt even the most established of routines. Your baby is more likely to eat well if they’re hungry than at any other time.
Offer your baby a cool, but not frozen, teething ring. Keep a couple in the fridge to have on constant rotation through the day. Look for teething rings which contain water only and which are robust enough to withstand constant chewing.
Give your baby something firm to suck on, like tooth rusks.
Offer your baby a cool, wet washer to suck on. First, tie a waterproof bib around their neck to prevent a wet chest. Keep a stock of clean washers nearby so you can rotate through them as needed.
Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional about your baby to understand what your baby’s individual needs are, and to get their advice and strategies on baby teething.
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For mums who are able to, breastfeeding is best for babies. It delivers many benefits for both mum and baby. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your growing bub needs to thrive, especially in the first 6 months of life, plus antibodies to help them fight infections.
It’s important for pregnant and breastfeeding mums to maintain good nutrition. Deciding to use a combination of breast and bottle-feeding for an extended period may reduce your own breast milk supply, and reversing your decision may be difficult.
When using infant formula, follow the feeding guide and preparation directions carefully. Improper use or incorrect preparation of infant formula can make your baby ill.
Consult your doctor or health care professional for advice prior to using the formula to feed your baby. You should also consider the social and financial implications before deciding to use infant formula.
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