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Written by: Jacqui Flint, Owner of Baby Love, a nationwide company specialising in routine and sleep guidance for pregnant couples and parents of babies two years and younger. www.babylove.co.za
There is so much information available to parents nowadays, be it via the Internet, books, or advice from friends, family and baby clinics, and one thing a parent can be certain of is that it will all contradict each other, which often leaves a parent feeling confused and unsure of themselves and their parenting capabilities.
Baby Love firmly believes it is different strokes for different folks and that there is no right way or wrong way to parent, and that parenting should be done in conjunction with your natural intuition.
Below are some frequently asked questions that Baby Love comes across on a daily basis:
Dummy vs no dummy?
Baby Love believes this is a personal decision. The downside to the dummy is that some small babies wake up when the dummy falls out, leading to continuous dummy patrol throughout the night. From 4 months attach the dummy to a dummy chain, attach it to the babygrow, trace your baby's hands down the chain to the dummy and start teaching him where to find the dummy and how to put it in his mouth. This can be a slow process so please be patient.
Whether you dummy or not, Baby Love recommends you also introduce another sleepy time object like a blankie, so that when the dummy is eventually taken away your baby still has another comforter.
Can I still implement sleep training if my baby is teething?
Do NOT use teething as an excuse not to implement sleep training and/or an age-appropriate routine as babies teethe until they are two years old! Teething normally starts from 6 months and generally they cut their bottom two teeth first, followed by their top two, their eye teeth and pre-molars closer to 12 months and their molars closer to two years, so in total 20 teeth. As a parent you need to manage the teething.
If there is a fever as a result of teething then don't implement sleep training, however if your baby is uncomfortable because of teething then give him some pain medication about 15 minutes before his sleep time so that by the time you put him down the medication has had a chance to work, and if your baby cries and you have assessed the cry and know it is not a pain cry and there is nothing wrong, then you can commence sleep training.
Signs of teething
- Bright red cheeks
- Drooling excessively
- Everything goes into the mouth
- More dirty nappies than normal
- Waking at night and the cry is a pain cry
- A baby who goes off his feeds (milk and/or solids)
- Generally a miserable baby
- Stools are very acidic and watery which can lead to bad bum rashes
How do I know the difference between my baby's cries?
Babies will cry for various reasons and as a parent you need to learn the difference in your baby's cries and also learn his body language as this will make parenting so much easier and far more enjoyable. Remember that if you have a healthy baby he won't die from crying so when he cries, take a step back, take a deep breath and assess the cry and based on the facts, try and react rationally.
Crying checklist guideline:
- He could be sick
- He could be tired
- He could be hungry
- He could be in pain
- He could have wind
- He could have a dirty nappy
- He could be cross (anger cry)
- He could be too hot (finger test*)
- He could be too cold (finger test*)
*Place your finger at the base of your baby's neck. If he is cold to the touch he is cold; if he is sticky he is too hot.