#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: Feeding While Teething


Q: Hello Dr. Ketch, help a lady who’s in need. My baby is teething. He refuses to eat. He only enjoys breast milk and water. Please help! What food should I Prepare?

A: Generally, how can I help my baby through teething what with the itch and discomfort they feel around the ‘erupting tooth’ area? Even the drooling? Well, here are a few things you could do:

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Rub over the teething area with your finger (thoroughly scrubbed and clean, of course :D) or use a finger covered with clean gauze or even the baby’s wash cloth. If this is cool to touch, this is even better. Massage the teething area with this…it helps to soothe the discomfort.

Teething rings are great ideas too and you could also refrigerate these to provide more comfort. Please do not freeze them.
Clean off the drooling saliva as this could cause irritation around the baby’s mouth, worsening his crankiness.

Over the counter analgesics like paracetamol could also be helpful provided it’s given in the appropriate dose for the baby’s age. This will also help with the fever. Please avoid Aspirin as it causes a disease called Reye’s syndrome.

Several studies have been conducted on the efficacy of gripe water though it is liberally used by parents and doctors alike, and it has not really been found to be particularly useful in teething. Older formulae contained alcohol which were thought to be perhaps, responsible for the soothing effect it had. Other components like the herbs etc may not go down well with all children.

What to feed baby during this time? It depends on his/her age.

From birth to 6 months, please focus on exclusive breastfeeding with not even a drop of water. From six months, baby is ready to be introduced to some other food.
For a long time, the standard teaching had been to go for rice cereal as the first add-on meal because it is bland and babies tolerate this well. Other studies question this wisdom now and suggest that foods like meats with lots of essential nutrients like iron may be a good place to start. What should you do? You can boil beef/chicken very soft and blend it up for baby. If baby tolerates this, then by the next week, you could try adding some rice cereal. Try not to introduce more than one food per week so that you have time to study how your baby adapts to it and of course, look out for/isolate food allergy. And, to start off, only one meal of the complementary feed should be given daily. The rest should be the usual…breast milk 😀 This will, of course, as baby tolerates.

Generally, foods to start off weaning should be just slightly thicker than milk and so, if it retains its shape on a spoon, it may be too thick.

From 9 months, baby can be allowed to start experimenting with regular family meals…minus the spices, of course 😀
From one year of age, you can add the cereals mentioned in the question and it’s also okay to introduce cow milk at this time. Full cream cow milk is advocated at this time for proper brain development. Thereafter, please switch to skimmed/1%/2% milk as full cream milk has a lot of saturated fat which may contribute to poor heart health. Grains, green leafy vegetables, cow milk, honey, whole eggs can generally be introduced after the baby turns 1 year old.

Generally, other weaning foods that can be introduced include:
Boiled egg yolk (egg whites contain substances that baby may react to), sweet potatoes, fish, chicken, beef, fruits like banana, avocados, boiled beans (with skin removed if possible etc
Simple recipes include, blend some chicken or beef with the stock or mash a banana and add to baby’s cereal.

Our local cereals can also be used and fortified with some breast milk or formula.

As baby tolerates these meals, you can get a little more adventurous.

Boiled carrots mashed with some coconut oil or a little yoghurt with mashed banana may not go amiss too.

An example of a recipe I make for my children is boil potatoes in a pot and place a stainless plate on top of the pot. Add your egg yolk and a drop Olive oil and when the yolk is cooked and potatoes soft, mash all together and feed baby.

Now I know we are all very busy, but weaning is no easy task and so we must commit to trying as much as to prepare these meals ourselves. Packaged meals usually contain additives that may trigger problems/allergies etc in the baby. Hygiene is also critical!

All the best and whenever in doubt, consult your baby’s doctor.

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