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Parenting - Baby Peeves 

Tuesday, 7 November 2006


Today we are giving tips and advice to mothers on two major baby peeves - teething and colic. Although remedies to these may be common knowledge to experienced mums they can be completely alien to a new mother.

Public Health Nurse Elaine Hickey is with us today to answer all your queries and calls. If you have a question call us on 1850 71 71 11. You can also e-mail us at or text STUDIO followed by your thoughts to 53555.

Some questions answered
What is colic?

Colic is when a baby cries for longer than a couple of hours regularly for no apparent reason. It is the extreme end of normal crying behaviour. The baby generally cannot be comforted by cuddling/ feeding etc. but appears to be in pain, drawing up their legs in distress, becoming red in the face and passing wind. Some babies refuse to eat. Difficulty falling and staying asleep is also common. The term colic can cause disagreement because it is not fully understood, and the treatments vary depending what originally causes the colic.
At what age does it occur?
About 20 percent of babies get colic, and it equally affects boys and girls, first-born children and those born later. In general, it appears at around two to four weeks of age and can last for three months, or longer in some cases
What could be wrong and how can I fix it?
Severe Wind -Normally wind will come up as a burp. Sometimes though, the consistency of the food in the stomach changes and the air gets trapped and is passed to the gut which can result in colic. If the baby seems to have a lot of wind, make sure he or she is burped frequently. Try feeding the baby in a different position, or using a bottle and teat designed to reduce the amount of air the baby swallows during a feed. These include curved bottles, bottles with a collapsible bag inside or bottles with a vent.
Intolerance - Parents who bottle-feed their babies may want to try a different formula. Some parents who bottle-feed their baby try changing over to Soya-based formula, but there is no evidence that this is effective at reducing colic. It could also be lactose intolerance, in which case Lactaid can be added to the formula.
Hunger -   Maybe your baby is hungry! If a baby starts becoming "colicky" around 3-4 months, maybe you should look at introducing solids.
Oesophageal Reflux - can give baby heartburn and may cause colic. Keep baby in an upright position after feeding which can help to relieve this, as it is when the baby is laid down that the stomach contents slip into the oesophagus, causing the burning and pain. Carrying baby in a sling after meals could prevent this and aid winding, too. Introducing solid food or thickening food would also make it less likely to rise up.
Your tension -  A baby can sometimes pick up a parent's tension. You need to stay calm and relaxed. This is extremely difficult when a baby is screaming their head off. However, do your best and make sure you get a break from the crying. Also, do not blame yourself.
What other treatments help?
. Herbal teas like fennel have been known to soothe a colicky baby.
. Colic drops that you can buy from a pharmacy to break down the large wind bubbles into smaller bubbles that are supposedly expelled more easily.
. A medicine called dimeticone (e.g. Infacol) is available to relieve trapped wind.
When should I see a doctor?
If you want to set your mind at ease, that that your baby has colic, then go.  Before going to the doctor, parents should take note of when the baby cries, eats and sleeps, as well as the pattern of bowel movements. This will help the doctor determine the cause of the crying. The doctor will examine the baby and ask about the symptoms to help exclude any other disorders that may be causing the crying.

When should I expect my baby to begin teething?
Every baby is different, but in general expect the first sharp tooth at around six months. Heredity plays a part. If you check your own history, your baby's teething schedule should resemble your own. Teething is usually complete by the time the baby is two and half years.
How much will it bother my baby and what can I do to help?
Sharp teeth cutting through soft gums is going to hurt! Expect some or all of the following:
. Drooling - Expect buckets of saliva. You may want baby to adorn a bib so their clothes aren't constantly soaked.
Coughing -the abundance of saliva often drips down baby's throat and can causes coughing or gagging.
Red Cheeks - a very red, flushed cheek on the side the tooth is coming through on, or possibly both cheeks (one normal cheek and one very red one is one of the clearest indications of teething).
-Drool Rash - Sensitive skin and excessive saliva don't make a good combination, especially when the skin is rubbing against a drool-soaked bed sheet. Expect a red, irritating rash around baby's lips and chin. Place a drool-absorbing cotton bib under baby's chin or a towel under the sheet while baby sleeps. Gently wipe excess drool off the skin with lukewarm water and pat (don't rub) dry. Lubricate with a mild emollient.
Diahorrea - Excess saliva will also result in loose stools and a mild diaper rash during peak teething rash. Apply a barrier ointment to baby's bum.
Night waking - (Many queries into the box). A baby who previously slept well may wake frequently during the night during peak teething times. They may be difficult to wake also.
Fever and irritability - The inflammation of teeth pushing through the gums may cause a low fever of (101 degrees F / 38.3 degrees C) and may be irritable. It is ok to give baby some kind of pain reliever such as infant Calpol, Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Alternatively rub a teething gel in babies gums.
Refusal to feed - Some teethers never miss a meal, others comfort feed, and a few refuse to feed or even take their dummy. Offer cool, mushy foods served on a cold spoon.
Biting - A teething baby longs for something or someone to gnaw on. Teeth marks on crib rails are a telltale signs of sore gums. Babies may also nibble on their and yor knuckles, arms, fingers, and sometimes the breast that feeds them. Offer them something cool and hard. Gum-soothing favorites are a cool spoon, frozen bagel, teething ring. There are great teething rings with gel in them that can be put in the fridge for babies. Another way to tell that baby is teething is to physically feel the swollen ridges of pre-teething gums. You may even notice a mushy blue blister above an erupting tooth. This is actually a collection of blood beneath the superficial layer of gum tissue. These painful swellings are best treated by cool compresses (for example, popsicles), which soothe the swelling.
How can I tell whether my baby is sick or teething?
Teething will rarely cause a fever of over 101 F (38.3 C)
Teething mucus is also clear and only comes out of the mouth and not the nose. Cold mucus is thick and yellow.
Babies don't get progressively sicker with teething. When in doubt get it checked out!