soothing your baby's pain

Soothing your baby’s pain

It can be very nerve-wracking when babies become sick, but with the right treatment and some TLC, they do tend to recover quickly. But always check your little one’s condition with your doctor.

It doesn’t mattter whether you’ve been through it with seven children already or if it’s your first baby, it’s normal to feel anxious and out of your depth the first time your little one becomes ill. If you think that your baby is unwell, you must decide what to do quickly.

soothing your baby's pain

Be aware of the warning signs of a serious problem and get your baby checked as soon as possible if you have any concerns. Medication should not be given to babies unless it is absolutely necessary, and only under medical advice. Pain relief suspensions can help with teething troubles and fevers, but don’t be tempted to turn to the medicine cabinet every time your baby is cranky, as his immune system must be given a chance to fight the illness first.

If you can’t or don’t want to give your infant medicine there are plenty of drug-free pain relief methods you can try. You can comfort your baby by simply holding, rocking, singing to or nursing him. For teething pain, try rubbing his gums or giving him a cold teething toy or clean face cloth to suck on. A humidifier or vapouriser in his room can relieve some of the nasal congestion associated with a cold.

Breastfeeding can help

Breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact are also effective forms of natural pain relief or for settling an upset baby. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby receives antibodies via your breast milk, particularly from the colostrum that makes up his first feeds. Breastfeeding can make it less likely that your baby will get some common infections that cause common baby conditions like earaches, tummy upsets etc, but it won’t protect him completely from illness.

Pain relief guidelines

Learning when to give pain relief and how to identify the medication you should use to address specific symptoms will not only help to soothe your child, but it will also give you confidence in your ability to properly care for your infant. When giving pain or fever relief to babies and children, follow these tips to be safe:

1. Use the right product, strength and dose for the child’s age and weight. Recommended doses, according to the child’s age and weight, are given on the product packaging.

2. Different products, and different forms of a product, may vary in strength, so always read the package carefully for the dosing instructions specific to the product you’re giving.

3. Don’t keep giving the pain relief for more than 48 hours unless specifically advised to by a doctor.

4. Use the measure provided – or if there isn’t one, a metric medicine measure – to pour the dose.

5. safe place out of the reach of children.

soothing your baby's pain

6. Check labels of all medicines, as paracetamol or ibuprofen can appear as an ingredient in a variety of medications (like cough syrup) and you don’t want to double up.

7. If you don’t know how to measure or use a product, or if you don’t understand the label, ask your pharmacist for help.

When should I take my child to the doctor?

While almost all fevers and pain in childhood are due to nonthreatening illnesses that pass in a day or two, you should take your sick child to the doctor if:

  • You are worried.
  • He is under 12 months old and has a fever.
  • He has a fever that continues for more than 48 hours.
  • He has a very high temperature – over 40º C/104ºF.
  • He convulses.
  • He is getting sicker.
  • He is very sleepy or particularly irritable.
  • He has a rash.
  • He shows unusual symptoms including a stiff neck, vomiting, stomach pains, or skin discolouration.
  • He is experiencing ongoing pain, for example, stomach ache, headache or earache.
  • He has an injury and is experiencing pain.
  • He is having trouble breathing due to a cough or wheezing.
  • He is vomiting or isn’t able to drink.
  • He is not feeding properly.

More like this:

Is it an infection or teething?
Guide to baby’s pain relief
Treating your baby’s cold

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.