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I thought my baby was dying, but he was only teething

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th August 2012 10:22 PM

When a baby starts developing teeth, some parents panic, thinking their babies could be sick. Some rush to hospital because of the symptoms that manifest at this stage of a child’s development, writes Stella Naigino

I thought my baby was dying, but he was only teething

When a baby starts developing teeth, some parents panic, thinking their babies could be sick. Some rush to hospital because of the symptoms that manifest at this stage of a child’s development, writes Stella Naigino

When a baby starts developing teeth, some parents panic, thinking their babies could be sick. Some rush to hospital because of the symptoms that manifest at this stage of a child’s development, writes Stella Naigino   

It all started with my then 9-month–old boy Alpha, getting a high temperature. I quickly got a thermometer to measure the temperature and it read 39 degrees celsius. I panicked and gave him paracetamol syrup as first aid and then got a cold cloth and tried to cool him down.

He kept crying endlessly. I suspected my baby had developed malaria, or had a stomach ache. While I panicked, I consoled myself that the syrup would still help. And then a pungent smell slapped my nostrils so hard. Alpha had empted his bowels.  

In the next 30 minutes, he soiled his diapers three times and was craving attention. He was not willing to sit by himself.

 The crying then resumed all over again amid a hasty diaper change. Later, he calmed down and I used this chance to call up the doctor.

 When I explained to the doctor what had happened, he told me to give it time as I monitored my baby’s condition for the day. I was unsettled and my gut instincts got me packing Alpha’s bags to rush to hospital.

At the hospital, the doctor did all the necessary check-ups and I was surprised when he told me my son had no problem. Alpha had no bacteria or virus — he was only teething.

 I was not convinced until the doctor explained to me that sometimes, when babies are teething, they go through body changes that present as fever. 

He also advised me on what to do throughout the teething process. 

What is teething?
According to Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, a paediatrician, teething is when a baby’s first set of teeth, known as primary teeth, break through the gums. 

She says teething usually begins around six months, although some babies start teething as early as three months, which is normal.

 Kitaka says occasionally, children are born with one or more teeth. Commonly referred to as “ebinnyo”, these may need to be removed if they are loose, as there is a risk of the child swallowing them, or having difficulty with breastfeeding. 

By the time your child is about three years old, they will have all the 20 primary teeth, where the lower front teeth usually come first. Upper front teeth usually come in between one to two months after the lower front teeth. 

How to help the baby  
Give your baby a mild pain reliever recommended for their age bracket. For example, paracetamol or ibuprofen may help relieve your baby’s discomfort. 

Use a clean finger (or cold teething ring) to gently rub your baby’s gum for about two minutes at a time. Many babies find this soothing, although they may protest at first. 

Dr. Roslyn Okuga says sometimes diarrhoea during teething is caused by the behaviojr of babies, as during this time they tend to chew a lot and end up eating dirty things. She says parents have more reason to be conscious during this period. 

Okuga advises that parents should also provide safe objects for their babies to chew on, such as teething rings. Some parents use other teething remedies such as gels, which they apply on babys’ gums. However, some experts question their efficiency and safety. “If you want to try these products, talk to your doctor about which types are safe and how often to use them,” she advises.

“Give more oral rehydration salts and other drinks in case of diarrhoea to keep the baby strong and active and always comfort them.”

Okuga also advises parents to ensure that the surrounding where the toddler plays is clean, so that the baby does not pick things around to eat. Parents should also ensure that the toys the baby plays with are clean.

 

 

Expert view

According to Dr. Roslyn Okuga, the age at which the first teeth appear differs from child to child. 

Okuga says some babies are more restless than usual when they are teething. This may be because of soreness and swelling in the gums before a tooth comes through. These symptoms usually begin about three to five days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon it appears. 

She says teething is a painful process, and as the tooth erupts from the gum, the gum itches and sometimes pains, although some babies do not seem to be affected by teething.

“Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pain in their gums. They may also refuse to eat and drink because their mouths hurt,” notes Kipaka

She advises that parents should call in a doctor if their baby’s symptoms are severe.

 

I thought my baby was dying, but he was only teething

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