Many parents are quite fascinated by their baby's poo and you will be noticing a few changes since she has been on solids. We have some tips below on what to do if your baby is constipated and what to look for. Your baby may also have cut some teeth. It is important to care for them from early on. Baby will need more cuddles and attention if she is finding teething uncomfortable.
A few babies are actually born with teeth (about one in 1,200). This is just a quirk of nature. Other babies will get their first teeth any time between the age of three and 13 months. On average, the first front teeth appear in the middle of the top gum at around seven months, the two bottom teeth follow soon after. A month or so later, two more will appear on either side of these. By around her second birthday she will have 20 first teeth.
The normal sign that your baby is teething is sore gums and baby may be grizzly, dribble more than usual and her sleep may be interrupted. Teething does not cause diarrhoea, vomiting, a temperature, ear-ache or other pains - if baby is suffering from these symptoms then it is time to see the doctor.
When a baby is teething she will find relief chewing on teething rusks and rings. Paracetamol, given according to directions, may help her to sleep.
Cleaning baby's teeth is important from day one. Sit baby on your lap facing away and gently rub her teeth and gums with a soft, clean washer. After she is used to this you can change to a soft baby toothbrush. Baby does not need toothpaste until she is old enough to ask for it - and definitely not before her first birthday - the unusual taste might put her off having her teeth cleaned anyway!
Getting back to sleep
The excitement of learning to crawl and the discomfort of new teeth, as well as all the interesting things around him can lead to disrupted sleep for everyone. Even the baby you thought had got the hang of daytime sleeping is no longer so keen.
You will need to renew your bedtime ritual. She will still need two naps a day - one in the mid morning and the other in the mid afternoon. Even if she doesn't want to sleep, quiet time is important to renew her energy. If your baby is with a carer make sure an afternoon nap is a priority - the last thing you want is a cranky baby when it is your time with her. Here are some ideas for settling baby:
- Read a short story, sing a song, darken the room, put on some quiet soothing music. By this age a baby can be kept awake or be woken by outside noises. You may need to reassess baby's sleeping place and move him to a quieter place.
- If she is waking at night check that she is not cold or too hot. Put the back of your hand against her chest. If she is kicking off her blankets then it may time for a sleep suit. Check the room temperature during the night - is it between 18 and 20 degrees Centigrade?
- Is she hungry? A quiet breast or bottle feed, no talking, no lights and a gentle pat may be all she needs.
- Is nappy rash waking her up? A thick layer of zinc and castor oil or zinc and cod liver oil cream before you put her to bed will help.
- Was it a fright in the night? If baby wakes with a sudden terrified scream then this could be the problem. Unfortunately she can't tell you that this is the case, but research suggests that babies who do not get enough attention and cuddles during the day are more likely to have night frights.
- The easiest solution to a baby who wakes in the night and cannot easily be put back to sleep, or a baby who wakes often during the night, is to take him into your bed. The alternative is a firm, friendly but quiet approach aimed at soothing baby until sleep comes naturally.
On average baby still needs about 14 hours sleep in a 24 hour period - the average is 10 to 11 at night and three to four hours during the day. To find out how much sleep your baby needs use a sleep/settle chart which you will find in Sleep in Early Childhood fact sheet from the SA Children, Youth and Women's Health Service.
Baby on the move
Between eight and ten months many babies will start to move. Some will crawl, some will do a funny kind of crab walk, some will simply bottom shuffle or go backwards and others will not crawl at all. There is no reputable evidence that babies who don't crawl will be slow in other skills.
Before he can crawl your baby needs to learn to sit. Then he must learn take all his weight on his forearms and hands. Next he must work out how to get his legs under his body and come up on his knees. Once this is achieved there will be lots of rocking back and forth before one day he actually moves forward - or backward!
Babies learn to crawl in their time and their own way. You can't teach them, but you can make it easier for them to learn by:
- Giving baby plenty of time on the floor each day - but not so much that he gets bored.
- Having a soft place for him to be - a play mat, a rug or clean carpet. Somewhere that is not hard on his knees.
- Dressing baby in practical clothes that are easy to move about in. Baby girls can look adorable in frilly dresses, but they are not comfortable for crawling.
- Checking out the safety of baby's environment. Try to anticipate any dangers by getting down on your hands and knees and looking for sharp corners, glass objects, stairs, unstable furniture, bags left lying around. Just think - could baby fall over, into or onto anything potentially harmful? Could baby help himself to something dangerous?
The bottom end
By now your baby will be 'eating' a small range of foods and you will have noticed a considerable change in the contents of his nappies - and the smell, particularly if you were breastfeeding only up until around the six month birthday.
Normal baby poos are soft and although baby may make a lot of grunting noises and even go red in the face when he has a bowel movement, this is normal unless the poos are hard and crumbly and he is obviously in pain. Then he may have constipation and you can try giving him a little prune juice - one part prune juice mixed with three parts boiled water. If he is still in pain and the poos have not improved after a day then seek professional help. Never give medicines unless your doctor has prescribed them.
At the other end of the scale, one runny poo does not mean diarrhoea. However, unusually runny motions, particularly if they are watery, are a cause for concern. If baby also appears to be unwell then it could be a bacterial infection such as giardia or gastroenteritis and in this case baby needs to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Untreated diarrhoea is very serious in young babies.
Do you expect too much of yourself?
When you first became a parent you are likely to feel a bit overwhelmed about how all-consuming parenting is and how difficult, unless you had spent plenty of time around babies before having one of your own. It is normal for parents to feel that even though they are doing their best, it is not good enough. Accepting that and learning a few strategies will help you to feel you are a better parent. You can:
- Keep yourself up to date. As a member of EB you have a great source of information at your fingertips. Read and learn as much as you can about parenting.
- Trust your instincts. You may not have had much to do with babies, but if you have informed yourself about how you want to parent, don't let others tell you that you are wrong.
- Be a positive parent. Think and talk about all the good things there are about being parent. Talk to others about the positive side, not the negatives (remembering how you felt about parents before you had a baby).
- Know that we all make mistakes. You can't be perfect, but you can learn by your mistakes.
- Take care of yourself. You are an important person with a valuable role. Give yourself time to refresh and renew - and give yourself a pat on the back occasionally.
- Look after your relationship. Take time to be together and to talk about parenting.
- Ask for support if you need it. If you have problems in your relationship, with your mental or physical health or if you just need some advice from an expert - ask for it.
Find out more:
The Parent Easy Guides from Parenting SA, a government organisation and the fact sheets from the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service are amongst the best and most up to date sources of information for Australian parents. Here you will find PDFs on all these topics and more.
Visit the Essential Baby Forums to meet other parents and share your experiences at each stage.
These guides are written for Essential Baby by child care author, Carol Fallows. Carol established Australian Parents magazine in the early 1980s as Australia's first parenting magazine and managed it for nearly 18 years. She continues to write about and for parents. Her most recent title is Having a Baby. The essential Australian guide to pregnancy and birth. (Transworld/Random House, 2005).
Back to the Baby's First Year Monthly Guide - covering development, sleeping, baby care, immunisation reminders, feeding and more.
This information is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have any concerns about your child's health or wellbeing it is important that you seek help from your doctor or a health professional.
Unless otherwise indicated the pronoun he or she refers to either sex. We have chosen to alternate.