Baby boy is teething, poor little chap. He is chomping on everything in sight, dribbling loads and is not his usual happy self. Two tiny razor-sharp teeth have poked through now, so hopefully he should be feeling better soon.
One of the first things I learnt when I starting my ‘Introduction to Permaculture’ course was the ‘Hierarchy of intervention’ This grand title basically means a system showing when and how to intervene in a situation when you have noticed a problem. There are 4 levels of intervention;
1. Do nothing
2. Biological resources
3. Mechanical or physical intervention
4. Chemical intervention.
So for example, if you have noticed slugs invading your vegetable patch, you could
1. Do nothing. Observe the slugs and keep an eye on what they are attracted to.
2. Biological resources. Build a pond to attract predators to eat the slugs. Let your chickens onto that area to eat them or plant things that the slugs don’t like.
3. Mechanical or physical intervention. Pick the slugs off and remove them or use a deterrent such as crushed egg shells or copper strips.
4. Chemical intervention. Put down slug pellets (although this would not be in line with organic gardening principles so would be an absolute last resort)
So what has this got to do with a teething baby I hear you wonder? When I first heard about this system and applied it to my parenting, I felt rather comforted. Conventional wisdom tells us to head straight for the chemist as soon as our children have a sniffle. But sometimes I question this approach. A raised temperature is there for a reason, right, to kill off a bug and make our children better. So why do we immediately feel we should react by suppressing this temperature and interfering with the bodies natural processes? Obviously sometimes medicine is the best approach but shouldn’t we sometimes trust in nature a little more? This has been one of my most difficult parenting challenges, of course when your baby is ill you want to make them better. But I think by taking a step back and considering gentler ways of reacting, I have helped my children build their immune systems and recover quickly from minor illnesses and normal childhood ailments such as teething.
1. Do nothing. Notice signs of teething and see how he is coping.
2. Biological resources. Lots of breast-feeding, cold hard fruit and veg sticks to chew on. Homeopathic Camilila powers rubbed into the gums. These are made from the camomile flower so are a natural product that seems to help a little and certainly are a welcome distraction for a teething baby.
3. Mechanical or physical intervention. Extra cuddles and carrying in the sling to give comfort. Put on the amber teething necklace. The amber has properties that help relieve pain. I have no idea how this works but I do have faith that it does work. We have used this necklace for all three of our children and they have cut their teeth without too many problems.
4. Chemical intervention. Baby paracetamol such as Nurophen or Calpol given only as a last resort. We have managed to avoid this so far and S is eight months old now. I like the fact that I have lots of other ideas to try before reaching for the bottle of chemicals!