Teething: How to cope when your toddler cuts 4 teeth at once

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Just call me Bond, Jemima Bond...

Just call me Bond, Jemima Bond…

This is Rebecca Bowyer, reporting from the floor of my son’s nursery.

Current time is 0330 hours and Operation Gotosleep: Phase 3 has been in full swing for a little over an hour now. Subject is still crying. All avenues of relief have been exhausted so I have set up digs on the floor with a pillow, cot blanket for mattress and our handmade wedding quilt to protect me from the elements.

Phase 1: Initial sleep disruption

Phase 1 commenced at 1900 hours yesterday and lasted close to two hours before the subject finally gave up and went to sleep.

Likely perpetrators of the sleep sabotage were four eye teeth, all cutting simultaneously through tender toddler gums, causing pain and anguish. Appropriate pain medication was administered when it became apparent the subject was distressed and in need of assistance.

Cuddles were provided for the period of time required for the pain medication to be rendered effective. Drugs appeared to have desired effect. Subject was returned to cot.

Crept out of room.

Crying resumed.

Alternative pain medication administered: anaesthetic gel applied to subject’s gums. Additional warm milk supplied to subject as back-up insurance. Milk refused. Subject returned to cot in a calm state after supplementary cuddles and rocking.

At 2015 hours, after another 30 minutes of screaming, I enacted Plan B. While sitting on the nursery floor I inserted my arm through the cot bars and patted the subject in a soothing, rhythmic motion while providing a soundtrack of white noise: “Ssssh, sh-sssh, shhhh”.

Subject calmed and appeared to sleep, shifting fitfully from time to time.

Just as I was considering reporting back to base to declare the operation a success, the subject rolled. And giggled. And spoke: “Da daaa, teeeerrrr!”

I aborted my involvement in Phase 1 of Operation Gotosleep, requested back-up from my partner in parenting and went and had a shower.

At 2045 hours my partner reported that the subject had fallen asleep without further intervention from him. Grrrr…

Phase 2: Midnight snack

2315 hours: Awoken by a short, sharp scream and a long wail. The subject is under attack from the eye teeth once again and, on further investigation, has also lost his dummy.

I race for additional supplies of the soothing comforter device and grab a gratuitous bottle of milk, and anaesthetic teething gel, just in case.

I stumble back into the nursery, rescue the subject from his place of (all-too-brief) repose, apply the gel to ward off the effects of the attack of the evil eye teeth, pour the soothing warm milk into him and insert the dummy.

Subject is asleep almost instantly and so am I as I slide back into my bed next to my still-dozing partner in parenting.

Phase 3: Extreme anti-teething tactics required

It is now 0400 hours and subject appears to be asleep after a marathon 100-minute battle. I have, however, previously been fooled by his consummate acting and will not fall for his deep-breathing trickery again.

I lay low on the floor, careful to limit my movement for fear of alerting the subject.

Being a hot night, the air conditioning is on full blast and the ceiling fan has also been deployed on a low setting.

I realise the climate has become the new enemy: the temperature has cooled to the point of being hostile to continued toddler sleep. During his earlier thrashing, the subject has disengaged from all bedding and lies splayed on his back in only pyjama shorts and t-shirt.

The temperature appears to be dropping rapidly. Urgent action is required.

I consider my tactical options:

  1. Turn off the air conditioning [Rejected: severe risk of awakening our 3-year-old son with a sudden change of atmospheric sound and a gradual increase in temperature].
  2. Place a blanket over the subject [Rejected: current state of sleep not sufficiently deep to withstand any changes in texture against bare skin. Risk of re-awakening: unacceptable].
  3. Turn off the ceiling fan [Risk of disturbing subject: very low].

I silently roll over, ensuring I stay below the level of the cot and out of sight of the subject, should he stir. I commando-crawl across the room and raise my hand slowly up to reach the fan switch. Realising I am unsure which setting is “off” and which will propel the fan even faster, I take the risky step of lighting the switch with the glow of my smartphone. With baited breath I establish the off setting, adjust the switch and breath out with relief as the fan slows, the room temperature stabilises and the subject remains motionless.

I cautiously return to my position on the floor next to the cot and fall into an exhausted sleep at approximately 0415 hours, judging I have roughly 105 minutes until my 3-year-old will wake up, refreshed and full of boundless energy for the day ahead.

This is Rebecca Stephens, signing out. Zzzzzzzz…..


Rebecca Stephens MPK bloggerRebecca Bowyer is a regular blogger with Mornington Peninsula Kids. You can read more of her blogs at Seeing the Lighter Side of Parenting and follow her on Facebook or Twitter

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