Thursday, July 21, 2011

Teeth! And the Infamous Amber Necklace

Gus is getting teeth! You may remember me saying, oh, about 100 times in the past 5 months that we thought he was experiencing pre-teething/teething discomfort. Well, the first teeth have finally arrived. Both the bottom middle teeth broke through the gums right at 8 months. With minimal discomfort. Yay! Well, we had one day of feeling poorly that may or may not have been related to teething, but we'll get to that.

Before we left the US the other week, we thought teeth might be on their way. He had stepped up the drooling and hand-chewing again, although he had done this in the past without any teeth breaking through. We arrived back to England on a Wednesday, and Gus fell asleep at about 8.30 with no problems. Jon and I, however, had to stay up and watch The Apprentice. So at 10.30, I was exhausted and ready to crash. And Gus wakes up. And stays up. Till 1 am. But he wasn't too out of sorts or anything; at first he just wanted to play, then he settled down but couldn't quite fall asleep. The combination of jet lag and teething just wasn't working for him.

Thursday came--after a long lie-in for Gus and me. Poor Jon had to get up early to work! Gus was as happy as could be, and we could see the teeth pressing up on those gums. We knew they would be out soon! Thursday was a late night again (Gus fell asleep at about 11pm), but not too much fussing/crying. And by Friday afternoon, the teeth had come through. He wasn't too interested in solid foods for a few days, but that what fine, since he had an unlimited supply of breastmilk available to him. Excellent! This teething thing is a hoot, I don't know what everyone complains about! (OK, maybe I didn't quite think that, but I was pretty thankful we, and especially Gus, had gotten off so lightly with the whole process.)

Then, a week later, and Gus starts having troubles. He fought sleep a bit, but finally fell asleep at about 11pm. I just figured he was still suffering from jet lag. Until he awoke, crying, at about 12.45. Now, Gus rarely wakes up for more than just a quick feed at night (and I am not sure he always actually wakes up for those; then again, co-sleeping means I don't really wake up either), and he almost never cries at night. So this was unusual. And, poor little man, nothing would soothe him. He didn't really want to nurse. He kept pushing me away, so I put him down on the bed, then he grabbed for me. He didn't want Jon, or a cold washcloth to chew on, or anything. This lasted for about 15 minutes until I was able to sing/rock/nurse him back to sleep. Until he woke up again about an hour later. This time, he pretty much cried for a half hour straight (with a couple minutes' break while Pa played peek-a-boo with him). We finally gave him some paracetamol, which helped calm him down enough to sleep for several hours. The whole next day, he was fussy, clingy, just overall feeling poorly. And he slept a lot, although that was surely in part due to the frequent night wakings and early morning. But there was no noticeable change in his teeth, so I am not sure if that was the problem or not. (Has anyone ever heard of the idea of the Wonder Weeks? Basically, the theory is that every baby goes through certain developmental leaps at basically the same time, and this can cause clinginess, fussiness, and general disruption with the routine. There is supposedly one at 37 weeks of age--counting from baby's due date, not birthdate--which corresponds exactly to the day that Gus was extra fussy. I have never heard of anything like this elsewhere, but, based on my sample size of one, they might be on to something!)

So what's up with this necklace?

I bought the amber teething necklace when Gus was about 3 months old, and he has been wearing it pretty much every day since then (he doesn't sleep with it at night). Many believe that amber has healing properties, since it is not a stone, but the resin of trees. Against the warmth of a person's skin, the resin supposedly releases its oils (in particular, succinic acid) into the skin, which then help ease pain and inflammation, in this case, those caused by new teeth.

Now, I don't really know if I believe that this works or not. I bought it because I don't particularly like taking pain relieving medications myself, and I really don't like the idea of giving too many to my baby. I think that they definitely have their place, I just don't like to use them for every little thing. Gus obviously can't tell me whether his fussiness is from pain or something else, but I definitely wouldn't want to give him medication every time he was extra fussy. So I thought that if there was a natural remedy that could ease the teething process even a little bit, that would be good. It's a win-win situation--he doesn't have as much pain, and I don't have to choose between giving him medication more often than I would personally be comfortable with and making him be in pain with no relief.

Some people do worry about the risk of choking/strangulation with wearing a necklace. Personally, I don't think this is a big risk for us. The necklaces are designed to be worn by babies, so there is a know tied in between each bead. When force is applied and they break, only one or two beads would fall off. The beads are so small, that he wouldn't have been able to pick them up when he was younger, and now that he can, they wouldn't really be a choking risk. I did a Google search for incidences of choking due to a teething necklace, and couldn't find accounts of any, so that was encouraging too.

Does the necklace work? Impossible to know. He has only had two episodes of being unwell, neither of which seemed to be prolonged instances of pain, and I don't know whether either was caused by teething or something else. So whether his relatively easy teething so far has been due to the necklace or just his own personal teething process and tolerance for pain, we can't know. But I won't be taking it off him any time soon, just in case!


  1. Dominic didn't really have a bad time with teething until he got his molars in. I feel very blessed.

    Gus looks cute in his little necklace!! And you are totally right, it is always better to try natural remedies first. And I hadn't heard about the wonder weeks before, but it sounds like a decent theory. Ill bite. :)

  2. Yeah, after I wrote this, I realised it sounds a bit like I think teething is over! Obviously he has a lot more teeth to get, but hopefully more will be like these first ones :)

    And Jon's mom just bought me the book about the Wonder Weeks, so I'll let you know what I think about it after I read the whole theory.