4 feeding and teething issues, answered by our health visitor

Is teething giving your baby pain? Is your baby struggling with her milk? Our health visitor answers your questions...

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1) Can I make teething less painful for my baby?

Q. I think my baby may be getting her first teeth. How can I help make it less painful for her?

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A. A tooth erupting through a tender gum can be sore, and distressing for a baby who doesn’t understand what’s happening. You can help reduce the swelling of the gum with cooled boiled water drinks and offering her something hard and cool to chew on. Chilled teething rings from the fridge (not freezer) are useful.

If she’s old enough, carrot slices, cucumber or chunks of apple are a good idea, but stay close in case of choking. You could consider using teething gels that can be applied to the gums with clean fingers, and offering a painkiller suitable for your child’s age will help her settle, especially at night. Keep her chin dry from dribble, and use a little barrier cream to help protect her skin from chafing too.

2) Is she going off her milk?

Q. For the last few weeks my 3 month old’s been crying after feeds and bringing her milk back up. I’m worried she’s not getting enough nutrients. Help!

A. No need to panic. First consider whether she could be suffering from gastric reflux – heartburn-type symptoms that some babies experience. Apart from vomiting up feeds and pain after feeding, other symptoms include poor weight gain, unsettled crying and arching of the back during crying episodes, plus coughing and spluttering during feeds.

Often babies with reflux will gulp feeds so try offering shorter, more frequent feeds – 20 minutes would be a good feed time.

Try to keep her upright for about half an hour after she’s had her milk and raise up the head of her crib so she sleeps on a slight incline to reduce the pain acid may cause. See your own doctor to get a diagnosis, as she might need medicine to help.

3) Has my baby got a milk intolerance?

Q. Someone has suggested that my baby could have a milk intolerance. How can I tell if he does, and what’s the next step?

A. Milk intolerance occurs where there is difficulty digesting lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. It’s not the same as an allergy to milk, which is caused by the proteins in milk. Signs of milk intolerance to look out for include:

  • Diarrhoea, which is often frothy and acidic
  • Bloating and tummy pain
  • Wind/colic

Milk intolerance can occur temporarily in some babies following a tummy bug, and if this is the case, it may last for a few weeks. If you suspect your little one has it, have a chat with your GP, who will refer you to a specialist. If you need to modify the milk and dairy products your baby consumes it must be under the guidance of a doctor and a paediatric dietician.

4) My baby has no teeth!

Q. My 10-month-old has no teeth. Is this normal?

A. Yes, completely. All babies vary with their teeth development. Some are born with them and others are gummy for the first year, but all first teeth will be through by the time your child is 2 1/2 years.

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When that first tooth does come through, it’s important to get brushing into your baby’s routine twice a day. Buy a baby brush or use a clean flannel, and apply a smear of children’s toothpaste to the tooth before gently massaging it. The easiest way to brush his teeth is to sit him on your lap, facing away from you, and brush from behind.

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