Top 10 Things About Baby Teeth

Bubba boy has cut a few teeth lately! This means that his mouth has become a leaky faucet and that mama has learned some new things. Like that bibs match nothing and do very little and look silly and annoy baby’s neck. So, good they exist. Below are more things this really good boy mom has learned about baby teeth.

1. Babies like biting once they get teeth, and baby teeth are sharp! (Makes me glad my baby doesn’t suck on my boob for food. He does, however, currently enjoy biting my chin. Tiny zombie. Ye-ouch!)

2. Teething should not cause a fever! If baby has a fever while teeth are erupting you should check for other causes, like cold, flu, or ear infection.

3. Counter pressure helps. Actually pressing on baby’s gums where the tooth is erupting temporarily relieves baby’s pain.

4. Baby teeth typically show up around 6 months, but they can come early or late. Bubba got his first two pearly whites at 4.5 months.

5. Teething causes massive amounts of laundry, because drool. (Duh)

6. It’s common for baby to develop a little cough while teething. Excess saliva (drool) can leak down baby’s throat, causing irritation.

7. Excess saliva production while teething  also worsens acid reflux symptoms. Barf everywhere.

8. Baby teeth must be brushed!!! Babies can get cavities and tooth decay! Which may seem like common sense, but it’s a fact I didn’t know. Excellent boy mom over here.

9. Topical, over-the-counter teething gels are not recommended for use in babies. Gels of this sort typically contain lidocaine, which can speed up baby’s heart!!! Not excellent.

10. Babies younger than 6 months can have Tylenol every 4 hours to manage pain. For babies 6 months and older, you can alternate Tylenol and Motrin every two hours ( I was told). But always talk to your pediatrician about specifics for your babe.

BONUS: Teething is miserable but short lived. This too shall pass. And once they’re in, baby teeth are adorable!

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Ahh, Sleep: Part 3

To sleep train our puppy boy, Husband and I decided on the extinction method, which sounds like a cruel torture tactic inflicted on prisoners before they confess their sins and pay a visit to the guillotine. In reality, the extinction method is simply explained: place baby in crib and leave the room and don’t go back in until a pre-determined time, even if baby cries. So, pretty much a cruel torture tactic, says my heart. My much more rational head shushes my heart, telling it to calm down the melodrama, because baby is fed, warm, dry, and safe, and any crying he does during sleep training is in protest of the change in how he gets to sleep.

So, we begin.

At 6:30pm I give the bubs a bath, and we splash and play like the loving friends we are. Bubba does that hilarious thing where he clenches all his muscles and straightens his legs and arms at his sides, which is my signal to tickle his belly, and he screeches in delight, and I laugh and Eskimo kiss his nose and feel guilty over what is about to happen. I get that babe out of the tub and dry his pink skin. I massage lotion into his baby chub and sweetly sing “Baby Beluga,” and he gives me gummy grins as he sleepily coos along. Bubba yawns.  I sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as I dress that adorable boy in jammies, but I do not zip him into his swaddle sack, as, on advice of a sleep expert, we have decided to do away with all “sleep associations” at once. I feed the baby his bottle, and gently rock him as he drowsily lays his head on my chest. As I move towards the crib my heart leaps and I silently apologize as I place the baby in his crib, awake. I pat his belly, tell Bubba night night and that I love him, and I watch confusion register on that sweet cherub face. As I leave the room I immediately lose all will to sleep train because the boy begins to cry.

Husband hugs me, and I bury my face into his shoulder and try not to sob. We head downstairs where I try not to stare at the baby monitor while Husband distracts me with stories from his workday and makes me a grilled cheese. I smile weakly and nod when it’s story-appropriate, but I’m not actually listening, because I’m breaking my first self-imposed rule and watching the baby cry and flail his tiny arms on the video monitor. I was secretly hoping Bubba would be a champion self-soother in disguise, and the physical pain in my body becomes too much as we hit the 20-minutes-of-crying mark with no end in sight, and I choke on the lump in my throat and begin to cry.  Husband steers me to the couch and hands me earplugs and earbuds, and I block the sound of my crying baby out, and I sit and watch Netflix on my phone.

Miraculously, after 8 more minutes, Bubs settles down and smacks his adorable lips, as he has done so many times in my lap, and I love him so much that I miss him, and I eat my grilled cheese and hope that he is as ready to sleep as he looks.  I watch the monitor, enthralled, while the puppy’s entire body begins to relax, and I feel my own tension beginning to release, until Bubba’s startle reflex triggers and his little arms flail again, and he is at once wide awake and upset. I cry buckets of tears and nearly choke on my grilled cheese. I pass the monitor to Husband and try to focus on Netflix. When puppy repeats this settle-then-startle pattern two more times, I throw my hands up, angry at the sleep expert who insisted we remove baby’s swaddle, and I retreat to my bathroom and step into the shower. It has been one hour.

After about 20 minutes, Husband comes in to tell me that Bubs startled himself two more times but has now fallen asleep. I sob softly at the relief that fills me, and my body feels weary and heavy and then elated. The baby is asleep! On his own! He fussed for 35 more minutes than he does when I bounce him, but he’s sleeping!

Husband comes back in to tell me the baby has startled awake again. Anger pings from my head to my toes like a pinball, and I let out a roar from the depths of my soul, hoping that the stupid “sleep expert” feels the intensity of my rage from across town, and I think about the scathing Yelp review I plan to leave. I calmly ask Husband to sneak into Bubba’s room and zip him into his swaddle sack. He does, and baby is asleep within ten minutes. Stupid, stupid sleep expert. It’s been one hour & 40 minutes of crying, fussing, settling, startling, and crying again, and mama is so tired.

This time I don’t dare trust that the baby will remain asleep, so I crawl into bed with my laptop and a book of Sudoku puzzles. I wake up 4 hours later to Bubba crying & I nudge Husband awake. The baby just slept 4 hours!! That’s the longest he has slept since birth!! And we slept too!! Husband and I are giddy, and I pump some breastmilk as Daddy heads in to feed the baby his bottle. I watch the monitor while Husband puts the baby back in his crib, and I brace for more crying, but to my astonishment, Bubs smacks his lips and turns his head and dreamily drifts off to sleep. I cry with pride and love and almighty relief, and when Husband comes back into the room he chuckles and holds my face in his hands and kisses my tears. Husband jokes that I’m going to need to be hospitalized for dehydration from all the crying. I laugh and squeeze him and settle in to get some rest.

I wake up and it’s morning. I look over at Husband playing video games on the iPad. He shakes his head and grins, pointing to the monitor. That puppy boy is still asleep!!! I seize the monitor and zoom in, watching closely for signs of breath. Husband laughs and tells me he did the same thing when he woke up. Not two seconds later the baby stirs. I sit up straight and wait the appropriate 10 minutes to allow the boy some alone time in his crib, then I run into his room and cheerily greet him. Bubba blinks sleep from his eyes and gives me a gummy grin that dimples his cheeks. He clenches his muscles and straightens his legs and arms at his sides, and I tickle his belly, and we both laugh. I scoop that baby boy up into my arms and kiss him all over, and I thank him for trusting and loving me, and he grabs a fistful of my hair and screeches in my ear with delight.

It took one hour and 40 minutes on night 1 of sleep training for baby to fall & stay asleep. I never did write the sleep expert a bad Yelp review, but I firmly believe that my baby would have had a much easier time getting to sleep had we put him in his swaddle sack as usual. We continued sleep training that next day, with swaddle sack, and it took another 2 naps before Bubs took to independent sleeping completely. That’s it – one night and two naps. Though the extinction method sounds like a torture tactic, it caused my boy no more than 3 hours of crying and fussing in total, as opposed to the 45 minutes of crying and fussing he was experiencing every single nap and bedtime as I bounced all 16 pounds of him to sleep. Now when we do our bedtime routine, Bubba bucks in my arms when he’s ready to be put in his crib. I kiss his forehead and try not to laugh, then I set him down in his crib and pat his belly and tell him I love him, then Bubs smacks his little lips and turns on his side and goes to sleep. He is my favorite little boy in the world, and sleep training is the best parenting decision we’ve made so far, and I am now a happily well-rested, really good boy mom.

Ahh, Sleep: Part 2

Originally, I was super against sleep training (ST). As an emotional pregnant lady, I read some articles about sleep training causing long term psychological damage leading to a child’s inability to bond with any caretaker. Reading articles made me an expert, obviously, and I began to tell Husband (and anyone else who would listen) about the dangers of leaving baby to cry and cry, refusing to go to baby or give him what he needs, and, frankly, being a little selfish just because you’re tired. Obviously, we would not be sleep training our babe, and don’t I look pretty on my high horse.

Sleep deprivation has slowly eroded my fierce anti-sleep-training stance. I began to research a bit more. I read articles that pointed out the fallacies in the original articles I had read. I read articles from actual scientific journals on the importance of getting good sleep. I began to understand that sleep training put another way is sleep learning, and learning a new way to sleep is something that baby may protest by crying. I read an article that put sleep training into perspective for me with one line: “just as we can’t start daycare for a baby, we can’t learn to sleep for a baby either.” Duh. I began to eat a little crow and accept that sitting on a high horse made me a bit of an ass. And mostly, I began to watch my child.

Baby boy was becoming increasingly harder to put down for naps and bedtime. The 10 minutes of bouncing it took to get Bubs to sleep was becoming 20, 30, 45 minutes. No longer was Bubba content to drift to sleep with polite little movements; he had begun to buck in my arms, as if he wanted to be put down, requiring me to tighten my grip and really jostle him, just shy of causing whiplash, to get him to settle. The 4-6 nighttime wakings we had been experiencing were increasing in number and sleep was shortening in duration. Besides one good 2-3 hour stretch of sleep every evening, Bubs was waking nearly every hour during the night. And the most blantant indicator: Bubba was crying in protest of sleep, even in my arms. He was ready for more independent sleep.

So, we made a plan. We decided Husband would take a long weekend from work, and we would begin sleep training on Wednesday. So, naturally, Tuesday night went great:

 

6:30-7:20pm:

Sing bedtime song. Put adorable baby in swaddle sack and bounce vigorously for 45 minutes. Baby protests but eventually falls asleep. Sit on bed next to cosleeper and rest arms. Offer baby a dreamfeed and take a mental snapshot of that beautiful boy all snug as he gulps from his bottle. Once he has finished, gently place baby in bed. Settle in to get needed rest during what is typically baby’s longest stretch of sleep.

8:15pm:

Check clock on phone. What the crap, baby hasn’t even been down an hour! Scoop baby up and feed. Once asleep, carefully transfer baby back to bed. Lay head down and close eyes.

9:05pm:

You’re joking. Scoop boy up, feed him. Once asleep, gently place baby in bed. Lay down and close eyes.

10:10pm:

Again, feed and set back in bed. Lay down.

11pm:

What is happening??? Feed baby, try to put him back in bed, stop when he starts to cry again. Feed him some more. Hold heavy-with-exhaustion head up with hand as baby finishes his bottle and smacks his lips. Make extra sure baby is asleep. Slowly and carefully place baby back in bed. Lay self back down.

12am:

Feel sleep being ripped away as the room lights up with humongous flashes of white lightning that wake the baby. Burst into sleep deprived tears and curse the universe’s obvious will to sabotage sleep. Scoop baby up as thunderous roars shake the windows and make the house feel like it’s going to fall down. Pop bottle into baby’s mouth. Try not to jump 10 feet when lightning strikes the field behind the house and thunder belches from the sky. Imagine lightning hitting the house and cry more from both an unhealthy exhaustion and a new and healthy fear of Mother Nature. Once baby is back to sleep try not to let tears drop onto his face.

12:20am:

Silently curse all of existence as baby wakes up again. Announce to Husband his turn is starting early. Jam earplugs in.

12:40am:

Get up and find thumb tacks. Gather all the available blankets in the house. Tack blankets up over windows for makeshift blackout curtains because of damn lightning. Lay head down.

2 am:

Hold flashlight for Husband while he pedals baby’s legs to relieve gas. Lay down.

2:15am:

Hold flashlight for Husband while he changes poopy diaper that may have been the sleep stealing culprit of the first half of the night. Lay down. Get back up because baby is not sleeping and Husband is annoyed. Bounce baby.

3:15am:

Pass baby off to Husband and lay down. Try to sleep while Husband bounces baby.

4am:

Wake up because Husband woke baby as he tried to make the lap-to-cosleeper transfer. Bounce baby. Sit with baby in lap. Attempt lap-to-cosleeper transfer and wake baby. Bounce baby. Sit with baby in lap. Cradle baby in arm and gently shift body weight until laying horizontally with baby asleep in crook of arm. Have Husband prop pillows around body and head. Fall asleep

5:45am:

Feed baby. Repeat body weight shift trick. Prop pillows.

6:30am:

Feed baby. Repeat body weight shift trick. Prop pillows.

7:30am:

Baby wakes for the day. Husband gets ready for work. Transfer the mother loving crib to the mother loving baby’s room because ST is happening TONIGHT. Pray to the almighty and beg for postponement of any storms. Tack up blankets as makeshift black out curtains in baby’s room just in case.

After Tuesday night, we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Product Review: Swaddle Alternatives

My puppy boy began rejecting the swaddle at 3 weeks of age. During those first elated days at home I diligently wrapped the boy up tight in his swaddle, just as the nurses taught me, only to have my kiddo break free immediately or fuss hard, every time. It was Husband, following his keen Daddy instincts, who insisted that we do away with the swaddle, per baby’s request. Expose squishy baby arms for mom nibbles and kisses? Deal! Only problem was that damn startle reflex. So, we tried some swaddle alternatives.

1. Aden + Anais Easy Swaddle Wrap

  • Snaps at adjustable intervals keep baby snugly swaddled as he grows 
  • Sack is roomy, like a wearable blanket, perfect for chunky baby legs and cloth diapered rumps
  • Made of the breathable muslin to keep baby comfortable all year 
  • Comes in all the fun patterns that made Aden + Anais famous

This wrap came recommended from multiple sources on the almighty Internet, and my pregnant mama consumerist brain ate that up! Before bubs made his debut I had two of these wraps washed and ready for wear. The genius of this wrap is in the adjustable snaps – until it’s 4 in the morning and your sleep deprived fingers are fumbling in the dark.

We didn’t love this swaddle sack. Because it fits a weight range, it seemed too big for newborn bubs. And once secured in place, bubs’ legs still kicked all over the place, which woke him up. It’s also inconvenient to undo all the snaps for a diaper change, especially in a dimly lit room. Husband found the snaps especially annoying. Ultimately, a regular swaddle blanket seems easier, and if you purchase Aden + Anais brand, you can still get the adorable patterns.

<No picture because baby didn’t wear it long enough>

2. Baby Merlin’s Magic Suit 

  • Thick, soft suit holds baby snug to provide comfort and stifle his startle reflex
  • Equipped with two zippers to make changing baby easy
  • Choose microfleece or cotton in sweet pastels to keep baby cozy
  • Recommended for use beginning at 3 months of age

My best friend and several Facebook mommy groups recommended this swaddle transition product to me. This suit is the cutest thing ever – it makes baby look like a tiny Michelin man. The idea is that the puffiness of the suit comforts baby & makes him feel as though he’s being held, while also stiffly holding his arms and legs down. If you have ever worn a stiff coat that hindered your movement, you get the idea.

We tried this suit at 3 months, at the height of everyone’s sleep deprivation, and it was an immediate no-go. Bubba did not like the stiff fabric, and I was too tired to listen to him fuss in protest. We tried the suit again at 4 months, when bubs started trying to roll over. Bubs liked the coziness of the suit much better at this age, but again, once he realized the suit was too stiff to let him roll on his side, he fussed. But he also slept better that night than he ever had before!!!! I stuck with the suit for a few days, but since bub was crying hard at every nap and bedtime, protesting his inability to practice rolling, and since we’d eventually have to transition him out of the suit once he could roll anyway, I took it off him. I wish, wish, wish you could use this for babies at a younger age, because I think my guy would have really liked it if we had started him on it sooner.   

  

3. Love to Dream Swaddle Up

  • Swaddle sack secures baby’s arms up near his face to enable self soothing
  • Sack features a two-way zipper, so you can unzip baby’s bottom half for a change without taking his arms out of the swaddle
  • Pocket on rear of swaddle allows parents to check for a dirty diaper or clip baby safely into stroller/swing/Rock ‘N Play/comforting product of choice
  • Made of cotton and stretchy elastane

A brilliant mama friend recommended this swaddle to me when Bubba was 3 weeks old, and my wonderful sister jumped online and ordered the swaddle while I cried about being tired. When that package came in the mail I ripped it right open and (after washing) zipped a crying Bubs securely in – he quieted immediately and his eyes grew heavy. What the what?? I looked at Husband, who gave an optimistic shrug, and I giggled with timid relief. 

The concept of this swaddle is simple: secure baby’s arms in his natural sleeping position & provide gentle, comforting pressure on baby’s torso. The swaddle sack is not stiff at all, which allows baby to move his arms and legs, and lets him chew and suck his hands to self soothe, but it still applies some pressure on the body, which feels womb-like and comforting to baby. Genius! Plus, baby looks like a cuddly little teddy bear while wearing the swaddle. All for the low, low price of $25. But buy two so you’re still covered when baby barfs on himself at 3am. We absolutely love this product!

  

Ahh, Sleep: Part 1

Before I had a child I knew exactly the type of mama I would eventually be: sharply intuitive and therefore always abundantly and lovingly empathetic, plus, always generous with my patience and tolerant of baby’s every confusing need, even at 4 am, which (I had decided) is easy to do as long as I remember that my tiny, innocent baby needs me fundamentally (a fact that should be thrilling not daunting). And, of course, I would never ever ever sleep train, because 1) it’s mean, and 2) it’s unnecessary if you do everything right from the start. Now that I am a really good boy mom it has become evident that I do everything wrong and have done from the start. Plus, I have come to realize that I failed as a pre-mom to factor in chronic sleep deprivation and postpartum hormonal changes when planning my  tolerant and empathetic 4am reactions, sharp intuition be damned. Oops. It’s ok, my baby is still essentially perfect, except for the tiny (huge) matter of sleep.

Day one at home from the hospital, husband and I lovingly wrapped baby boy up in his swaddle and snuggled him down into the chief, #1, primo baby registry item, the Fisher Price Rock ‘N Play (magical for getting baby to sleep, said all my wise mom friends). We stared adoringly at our squishy little chunk of joy, then quickly remembered we should be sleeping. Husband kissed me and rolled over for his midnight nap, but when I turned off my bedside lamp and hoped to doze, I cried instead. Fat tears of panic fell from my eyes for such reasons as “I can’t see the baby,” and “what if he’s not breathing?!” It was at that moment that I did as any good boy mom ought: I turned on my light, I grabbed my pillow, and I laid my head as close to the RNP as I could get it without actually docking myself on top of my baby. And there I laid, partially awake but with eyes closed, waiting for baby to wake for some food. Two seconds later the baby stirred just the tiniest bit, and sleep mistake #1 was made: I snatched that boy up before he had the chance to even fuss, let alone try to self soothe. I patted baby’s belly and cooed into his cherub face, I told him he was perfect and reminded him he was safe, and I handed him to his papa bear, who immediately popped a bottle of fresh breastmilk into baby’s mouth. “Huzzah!” I thought. “If I provide mama comfort before baby even has a chance to become upset, he will feel so perfectly secure that he will never need to cry and he will sleep soundly always, because I am such a good mom!”

What has resulted instead is a babe who doesn’t even know that self soothing is a thing – at least 6 times a night. Oops.

One night, after about 3 weeks of newborness, Husband and I lovingly wrapped baby boy up in his swaddle and snuggled him down into his RNP, and when baby grunted and snored, as usual, Husband lovingly said, “I don’t like those noises he makes. It sounds like he’s having trouble breathing.” Then husband kissed me and rolled over for his midnight nap. I, however, was again gripped by irrational panic, and I smacked dear hubby on the butt, insisting he wake up and help me stare sleeplessly at the baby to ensure that breaths were being taken. That’s when we began to cosleep in shifts, and I began trolling the almighty internet for info on how to help the bubs sleep. During my first shift with the bubba, I laid baby down flat on his back and propped myself up with my elbow to stare at his beautiful face. My heart burst into a million love morsels watching baby yawn and toot, and I just about died of love when that sweet boy sighed and rolled onto his side, snuggling closer to mama. Those dreamy moments are some of my favorite when I think back to the newborn days. But, during that first night of bedsharing sleep mistake #2 was made: the moment baby began to squirm, but before he woke completely, I lovingly and gently eased my hand under his head and offered him a drink of his bottle. “Oh yea!” I thought. “According to the internet, dreamfeeds are where it’s at! Baby will totally sleep longer stretches now, and eventually I’ll get to sleep too. Booya. I am so good at this.”

What has resulted instead is a babe who expects a bottle in his face every time he so much as stirs in his sleep, which, again, is 6 times a night. Oops.

One night, when bubs was about 6 weeks old, and long after he had nixed the swaddle, I lovingly laid baby down for my shift and curled my body around his, and stared perplexedly as he began to scream bloody murder. I picked the boy up and offered a bottle, which made him even angrier. I patted baby’s back, hoping for a burp. I administered some gas drops to ease his tummy. I checked that baby had a fresh diaper. Nothing seemed to be wrong, even though bubba’s cries told me everything was clearly wrong. I didn’t know what to do, so I cried, and Husband consulted the almighty internet, which explained that the squish was experiencing his very first witching hour! No big deal, said the internet, babies grow out of the witching hour eventually, and in the meantime you can try walking baby around. Husband took the reigns (since I was blubbering) and walked, swayed, bounced that sweet boy into dreamland in about 10 minutes. “Amazing!” I thought. “Bubba is so low maintenance. All he wants are a few cuddles and love from his Ma and Pa. This phase is going to be adorable. We are the best parents and baby is such a good sleeper, once he’s asleep!”

What has resulted instead is a babe who must be rocked to sleep for every nap and bedtime, and who only likes to sleep cuddled up with mom or dad. Adorable, but oops.

And there have been about a million more sleep mistakes made.

OK, as a boy mom, I still rely a whole lot on my intuition, and of course I am loving and empathetic, and I’m working on my patience and learning hard lessons about my tolerance, and it really is thrilling to be mama to my amazing son, but oh my freaking gawd, I am so tired, and it’s time to sleep train. I’ve done some research – teaching baby to sleep is not mean or unnecessary! Teaching sleep habits is a kindness – in fact, it’s a necessity – because 1) at this point baby is just as sleep deprived as mom and dad, and 2) chronic sleep deprivation is a torture tactic(!!!) and I’d like to stop torturing my baby. Oh yes, sleep will be happening in this house very soon.