Just when my wife and I thought it was safe to boast about a guaranteed six hours of sleep per night, my son’s gnashers have begun playing up again. It’s an exasperating situation that’s left him both gagging on Calpol and refusing to accept Calpol. So, every six hours, we’re going through a remarkable rigmarole involving him screaming every word he knows and us pretending to feed Calpol to ourselves and his pet dinosaur, before finally managing to get the syringe past his flying fists and shaking head.
But that’s not the really fun part. Oh no. The really fun part is the game of rock, paper, scissors to see which lucky parent gets to spread teething gel over his already extremely populated gums. If you win (and thus don’t have to do it), it’s seconds of golden entertainment. If you lose, it’s like a real life game of Hungry Hippo, only with sharper teeth and a 50/50 chance of blood.
The great news is that I currently lead the rock, paper, scissors standings 6-3. And the even greater news is that this teething malarkey has reminded me of a fantastic post I wrote several Moons ago. It was titled ‘Dear Father Hood: teething WTF?’ and it contained the following undiluted guide to the teething roller coaster. Read it, nod your head at the bits you recognise and remember that you are not alone. All around the world many, many parents are going through the same pain that you are.
STAGE ONE: Drool
How many bibs can one kid go through in the one day? Given there was basically a waterfall of water tumbling from our tot’s mouth the answer is more than you could possibly imagine. To the local supermarket, quick. And don’t forget to shove some Vaseline in your basket – it stopped our little one getting a rash on his chinny, chin chin.
STAGE TWO: Pain
And we are talking relentless ‘just not themselves during the day’ and ‘just not going to sleep for more than 30 minutes at night’ pain. It’s as fun as it sounds. The only way we managed to get any peace was adopting a regime that involved Calpol every six hours and teething gel every two or three.
STAGE THREE: Clinginess
Fellow dads, you know all that progress you’ve been making with your kid? It’s about to be wiped out in a hail of screams, nips and slaps. Don’t take it to heart. At times of peak pain, it seems mummy and only mummy will do.
STAGE FOUR: Side effects
Did anyone order some nappy rash, a mild fever, a sudden disinterest in food, localised pain and a runny nose to go with their child’s new teeth? Of course they didn’t, but it was the particularly feisty hand we were dealt. In terms of the nose, baby nasal spray worked a treat. In terms of the food, fruit purees that we’d kept in the fridge made it passed his lips when hot food and milk wouldn’t. In terms of the pain, Calpol was again the saviour. And in terms of the nappy rash, since all the treatment creams did was make his butt redder and his mood darker, we found ourselves going back to basics and washing him in the sink the moment he’d peed or pooped. This, along with some Bepanthen nappy rash prevention cream, eventually solved the issue.
STAGE FIVE: Biting
Who needs teething keys when you our little man had daddy’s fingers, mummy’s shoulder, the table, the cot, all your toys, supermarket trolleys, any prop given out at a baby class and a bunch of other things to tuck his teeth into?
STAGE SIX: Peace
Phew, it’s over. Baby has got his front teeth at the top and bottom. Let’s celebrate, as the rest of this teething journey is bound to be a walk in the park in comparison with what’s just gone on.
STAGE SEVEN: Realisation
Oh crap. More teeth are coming and it’s anything but a walk in the park. Return to stage one and do not pass go.
STAGE EIGHT: Contemplation
Just how many teeth do babies get? Sadly, the answer is 20 and the pain can continue until the age of three. Conclusion? You bring the ear plugs and I’ll bring the wine.