This last Friday Squeaker and I visited her pediatrician for her 6 month visit. We learned some good things that I want to share, including what is OK for a baby to eat at this age and what isn't, teething information, infant pain medication information, and rashes from drooling (including how to treat them). In my opinion the most interesting topic that came up, however, was the subject of "stranger anxiety".
Stranger anxiety came up because lately Squeaker has been more nervous and anxious around new or different people, including her pediatrician (whom she has always been friendly and smiley with in the past). She has also become more anxious about animals, most notably dogs, and loud noises, such as the blender when I'm making her baby food. The pediatrician says this is all normal and will pass somewhat quickly, but in the future (around 13 or 14 months old) Squeaker will most likely go through another phase like this one, but even worse. It all has to do with stages babies go through when they start to observe and try to understand the world around them. The future one, which occurs with most children, can also make the child have aversions to his/her parents sometimes. I've seen kids go through this before, little ones only being able to be consoled by his/her mother (or father) and not wanting to have anything to do with anyone else. Going through it with my own child is a whole different story though. For instance, Squeaker will go through this anxiety with people she has been so comfortable with in the past (like her own grandpa) and I feel bad because the person trying to interact with her wants Squeaker to like them. It's not that Squeaker doesn't like them either, she is only a baby. No one takes it personally, of course, but it is still difficult. I hope that both this phase and the one to come are quick. Do any of you have recommendations for what helped your kid(s)? Do all children go through stranger anxiety, at least to some degree?
One of my friends said, on the subject of fearing animals, that all of her children went through a time when they were scared of dogs, but it passed quickly and the fear turned into curiosity instead. I hope this is the case for Squeaker. The pediatrician said that the best way to deal with it is to simply console her and make sure she always feels safe with me or her dad. "It isn't possible to spoil her during a stage of stranger anxiety," she said, "It is good for her to have a secure base wherein she feels safely protected [Husband and I] so that she feels better about adventuring on her own later." It's very interesting to me though, that some people simply innately have a deeper anxiety about strangers and new situations than other people do. It will be fascinating to watch as Squeaker grows to see how her own personality develops and find out if she is more extroverted or introverted in that sense.
On the other subjects we discussed with the pediatrician, she said that the only foods to really avoid at this time are: honey, milk (other than breast milk or formula of course), juices, and anything that would obviously be a choking hazard - like popcorn. The honey still is interesting to me, if anyone reading this doesn't know why babies shouldn't have honey it is because there is a small risk that it may contain spores that cause infant botulism. Milk is pretty much obvious, the baby isn't getting all of the nutrients he/she needs from other sources of milk and can even get sick from having cow's milk too early on. Juices are too sugary and aren't a good source of nutrients. The pediatrician also said that water is OK but it isn't adding anything. If the baby simply needs more fluids because of constipation or being in the sun then water is OK. The choking hazard needs no further explanation. Two foods that are OK for Squeaker now (or soon), but were not before, are peanut butter and eggs. Peanut butter, just a small amount on your finger given to your baby once a week, from this point on helps the baby's body get used to it and hopefully prevent an allergy/aversion to it later. The eggs are good to add protein into the baby's diet and can be added to his/her food intake around 7 or 8 months old. I'm excited to try different foods with Squeaker and see what she likes. So far she likes everything she has tried and really loves her grandpa's garden-grown squash.
Squeaker has her first tooth! It has slowly been pushing its way out for the last two weeks and is definitely visible. The pediatrician said that Orajel (and other types of topical gels) are not really helpful because they only last about 10 minutes. Most of them also contain benzocaine, which the FDA has said can give children methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder where oxygen that's carried through the blood to the tissue drops to dangerously low levels and can cause death. So overall, these medications are not advisable to use, which is news to me. The teething pills/tablets, according to the pediatrician, are also not really helpful but I neglected to ask for more details as to why she didn't recommend them. I think it came down to her thinking that they simply don't really help the problem or make much of a difference. However, infant/children's Tylenol is fine, as it has been pretty much from day one in very small amounts, and by 6 months old (or by a certain weight) a baby can now safely take child's ibuprofin. The pediatrician recommended both of these medications to be used as needed and only 2.5mL (1/2 tsp.) every 6 hours. I don't like using medications and try to only take them, or give them to Squeaker, sparingly. So, other things that are helpful and recommended: a cold wash cloth (wet or simply cooled in the fridge), teething rings (also possibly cooled in the fridge), cold or frozen fruits that they can gnaw on, maybe put frozen fruit or some ice pieces into one of those mesh feeders that prevent chokable chunks from getting through, etc.
As a consequence of teething, Squeaker has been drooling a lot. Subsequently, she has been getting rashes on her chin and around the corners of her mouth. Apparently these types of rashes and dry skin patches, even going down to the folds of the baby's neck, are normal for babies during the entire time they are teething (a few months old to 2 years). I asked what was best to use on these types of rashes, because Squeaker pretty much just tries to lick anything off that I put on them and I don't know what is OK for her to ingest. The pediatrician said that lotions are not good to use, even if they are scent free, but that lanolin or petroleum jelly (vaseline) are OK to use even if the baby licks some of it off. She added that lanolin is probably a better barrier and will stay on better even when the baby is licking it.
So, these are the things I learned recently and I hope they helped. Let me know what has worked for you or what questions you might have about the things your little one is going through.