Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to get a Teething Child on the Go

I have suitcases spread from one end of our bedroom to another as we pack for a long weekend in Sedona and Phoenix. Packing for the high dessert temperature swings, hiking, a creek out the back of our property and a heated pool has proven to be a art in packing with layers. I will blog when I return as far as how it went, what we did, etc.. We're excited as this is another one of our large group trips....probably about 8 families with children and then various others. All in all probably 20+ adults and 20+ kids.

So for this week's column I am going to defer to a wonderful friend, reader, and now contributor who lives in the beautiful high dessert of New Mexico. Located at the southern end of the Rockies their backyard provides them with lots of hiking, biking, lakes, winter sports, and an untold number of other outdoor activities. They have made this their home and are raising a nearly 3 year old boy there. Other than family they were of course drawn to the area as they are very active parents...she a runner, hiker, personal trainer. I used to be envious of her confidant spirit pre-children as she and her dogs, no hubby, would go out hiking to a cabin in some wilderness and stay for the weekend. Dad's career has him outdoors on a daily basis and he loves spending his free-time there too. So when their little boy' teething started to put a major cramp in their active style....the parents endured trials and tribulations of various soothing methods...medicinal and otherwise to allow their lifestyle to endure. Mom, Ness, has written an incredibly informative piece here below to help other parents who may be embarking on the not-so-wonderful world of teething.
Our Child-On-The Go was born into a family who does not merely recreate outside, but lives in the outdoors. We are rookie parents to a very decent 2 ½ year old boy, living on five acres at 7000’ in the Southern Rocky Mountains. Our backyard and our town are both surrounded by the National Forest. So, between working on our land and enjoying our mountain hikes, walks and jogs, we are outside all year around. Not to mention, I am an exercise nut, and have jogged or backpacked with him since he was one month old. All of this sounds like a fairy tale, until you understand how he our son has suffered and how we have learned and adapted to this repeated teething process. Alas, if you are one of those parents who never even knew their children’s teeth were arriving, don’t bother reading ahead. However, if you have either directly or indirectly experienced a teething toddler on the “Go”, the following little snippet may be helpful.
Since the arrival of his first teeth, we knew we had been blessed with a great little guy who would struggle with each tooth. All the signs arrived at once, like a four alarm fire in his first year of life. His cheeks would get red as apples, he would become irritable, eat very little, and always run a low-grade (99-100… degree) fever. At first, we stayed home and adjusted our plans. (Remember, I said we are/were rookies.) Then, we evolved and realized this was going to be a reoccurring process until all his teeth were in at roughly 3 years of age. Life had to go on; on occasion the kid had to be mobile even when feeling crummy. So, I read, I chatted, I called our Pediatrician, every Grandma, Mema, Nurse and Mom I knew and alas, I filled my knowledge cup with more than anyone would care to know about teething in children. The teething symptoms and challenges evolved as he grew and as the teeth became bigger (molars) or elected to arrive in multiples (four at a time). Poor kid, I am so glad he will likely not remember any of it. However, our family and friends will as we watch him persevere and come back around to his sweet, kind and silly self.

Here is what I know about being an active parent with a teething infant and now toddler under my wing. (Remember, I am not a Doctor, so check with your own for a “real” opinion should you desire.)
o Make sure you know it is the child’s teeth and not something more serious. You will become acquainted with the signs if you pay attention.

o When possible, plan your activities in the morning when your child’s endorphins are high and he/she is able to have better pain management. Endorphins crash in the afternoon which is when most parents see their kids really struggling. (See me pulling out my hair at naptime or during dinner preparations.)
o Teething generates more acid in the saliva and that ends up in the digestive tract, i.e. (really foul smelling poop.) Thus, try to give them easily digestible foods with low acidic value: mine gobbles any kind of yogurt…bananas, saltines, etc. I avoid milk for 1-2 days and use diluted juice, diluted Gatorade and plenty of H2O. Pack food when you can. (Airplanes, car, friends house, picnics etc.)

For pain management you will need to decide upon an escalation plan. Here is ours.
o If at home with no plans, we give him homeopathic teething pellets and gels. There are many options at health food stores so try a few until you find something that works for your kiddo: we like Humphrey’s, Boiron chamomilla 30, and Boiron Ferrum Phosphoriccum and Little Teether’s Gel. 2) If he continues to be in pain, we do the above and ice cubes crushed inside a small (kiddo size) wet washcloth with a rubber band around it. (Popsicles help but they don’t allow the chewing and knowing sensation to be met.) Both will reduce gum inflammation. 3) If pain is severe and/or fever is over 100.5 we give him Tylenol or Motrin in combination with the remedies mentioned above. On very rare occasion, we have had to administer all/most of these remedies to get him through and allow us to “go.” Under our Doc’s authority, we have alternated between Tylenol and Motrin. Motrin, if he has food in his stomach, Tylenol when he doesn’t. Honestly, Motrin is much better: it lasts twice as long, (thus you give it less often) and it is an anti-inflammatory that reduces inflammation in the gum, sinuses and ears.
o Give them some teething gel or pellets before dinner time. Otherwise, you have a teething toddler who is also running on an empty tank.
o Warm bath with a few drops of Lavender (calming not spiking) in the bath.
o Always travel with a few of these pain and swelling remedies. Always. I keep them in my truck and in our travel bag.
o Regardless of whether you are using a homeopathic remedy or over the counter product you need to be sure you understand the drugs/herbal interactions.
o Educate your caregivers and Grandparents on these remedies so they can help your child, safely, in your absence. (If you ever want a date night again!)
o Take a deep breathe. The process usually only lasts a few days and then passes.
o My kiddo often gets an ear infection when teething his molars. So, if when he doesn’t come around in 5-7 days, we go to the Pediatrician to determine if the ears are infected. Sinuses are directly tied to the process, so this is not an uncommon occurrence, but it is unfortunate.

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