Refusing Bottle During Teething? Common Cold?

Updated on March 10, 2008
R.S. asks from Lincoln, CA
46 answers

My 7 month old has been diagnosed with pink eye and the common variety cold. Since he has gotten congestion and/or teething (he cut his first tooth a week ago) he is pretty much refusing the bottle. He screams hysterically. He will eat his solid food without any problems but will NOT take the bottle. Yesterday alone, i was lucky to get 10 total ounces down him. The advice nurse was encouraged he ate his solids and he continues to have wet diapers. But he needs liquids, I KNOW.

I have put orgel on his mouth, teething tabs, motrin. I have made sure his nose was suctioned (in case he felt like he couldnt breath while eating. I dont know what else to do. Is it common for kids to reject the bottle when their mouth hurts??? Is there anything short of putting brandy on his gums that i can try to soothe the mouth?

Any advice would be great.
Thanks

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So What Happened?

Well, after a visit to the MD, I am reassured that he is NOT dehydrated and that he actually gained over an ounce since Monday afternoon. :) He has the viral bug which is now making its way to his throat and chest. he is fine, the MD says. He says it could be the throat it could be the teeth. He said continue to offer him milk (I have never been able to breast feed) and keep up the solids. He says when he is ready, he will drink. He said to use the orjel if it seems to help and the teething tabs also.

Thank you everyone SOOO much. It helped put my mind at rest, even before I got to the MD's office.

Featured Answers

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A.B.

answers from San Francisco on

You might try using a different nipple on the bottle or a different bottle. Maybe the nipple is hitting him in a sore spot.

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S.K.

answers from Modesto on

My son and my daughter were about 10-12 months old when they get sick(with a cold..conjestion) and refused the bottle. I used the opportunity to get rid of the bottle completely. They both were able to drink from a straw and a sippy cup, so I just let them. I felt very blessed that I did not have to take their bottle away at a certain age. We never had any crying nights over no more bottle. Good luck!

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S.L.

answers from Sacramento on

I have read that if you let them chew on a cold, wet washcloth it can be soothing. He would also be getting some water that way, at least.

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H.C.

answers from Sacramento on

My son is 8 months old and has 8 teeth, he has refused the bottle both when teething and when sick. Not sure if you are still nursing but I have found when he won't take the bottle he will still nurse which is inconvenient (i've had to run home to feed him after he missed a feeding and was about to miss a second one) but it works. If you are not breastfeeding the other responses seem helpful. I too have used Tylenol/Motrin to help him get through the most painful parts of the teething. As suggested by one of the other responses, I would give your son a dose and wait awhile and then try to give him the bottle again. Good Luck

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P.C.

answers from San Francisco on

R.,
OK when our son was teething terribly at the first tooth along with the others popping in and breaking in the gums. I let him suck on frozen organic blueberries, it numbs the gums and it's tasty at the sametime. Have you tried the oral gel to numb yours? Try it. I did, it was NOT good at all. It last a few minutes a time. And it did not work for our son. He sucked on the frozen wild organic blueberries (trader's joe)and was happy with it. And make sure his nose is cleared out with the suction to stuck in the snot. It is hard. Don't give him mortin (it has so much sugar that it would make him all edgy). Hope that helps.
P.

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C.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi R.,
I have three children who are in the early teens but I remember having this problem with one of my twins and it turned out to be Thrush. Check in his mouth and throat for any creamy white sore patches. It's just a thought. It is very painful and they won't suck a bottle at all.

Also if it is teething wet a clean washcloth and put it in the freezer. Give it to him to suck on. It will fill good and he will get a little fluids in him.

Good luck,
C.

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A.D.

answers from San Francisco on

My pediatrician recommended a few drops of breast milk in the eye and nose to clear congestion - it has antibacterial properties and breaks down mucus. It really does work, even if it sounds weird! He found this tip in an old Russian midwifery book from the early 1900s.

In terms of teething, take a very clean terry washcloth, dip it in ice water, and wring it out a bit, then give it to the baby to suck on. It feels really good on the gums, cold and slightly textured but yielding. And it's not a pthalate-loaded bubble of plastic filled with cold water from somewhere in China...

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L.G.

answers from Bakersfield on

I am a mother of 2 and a grandmother of 5 and I would expect the congestion is the reason your little one is not wanting to take the bottle. Breathing is difficult at 7 mo w/congestion alone. I would not push the bottle until the congestion clears up. Teething is always hard as well and it seems when the teething starts thier immune system drops and they catch everything that comes along. Good luck!!!!!
L. G.

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S.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Beware that he may develop an ear infection. You may want to have him rechecked. My son had a common cold, I did not feel like it was running the usual course. I scheduled a recheck appointment and low and behold he had developed an ear infection. He was not showing the "Usual" signs for an ear infection at the time.

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J.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Our daughter also goes through periods especially when shes teething where she just will not take the bottle. The best things that I have found to do is make sure that shes not gassy (sometimes a quick burp and shes ready to go) and then to try either warm bottles or cold bottles and feed her a little bit more upright than usual. You might try putting his bottles nipple in the freezer for a bit so that its like a teething toy and liquids all in one. For relief from teething pain you might also try using one of those rubber thimbles and lightly rubbing his gums for him. It helps the teeth break through and seems to feel good. Our daughter has about half a mouth full of teeth at 8 1/2 months and we have found success with these ideas.

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A.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Did you try an oral syringe like the ones you give medicine through for his fluid? He may not get alot but he would get someting. Also, they make sippy cups with tops very similar to a bottle nipple but the flow is obviously faster because its bigger. Good luck. Thank god teething doesn't last forever!

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S.N.

answers from Sacramento on

My daughter is now 11 months and the very same thing happened. We tried a multitude of different bottles, etc. thinking that was the problem. She would just throw the bottle. I was diligent about always putting whatever did not get consumed from her bottle into her dry cereal, because she also would eat the solids. At least I knew how many ounces were being consumed each day. Things picked back up after about a month but I think she's working on a top tooth now. Best wishes - it too shall pass.

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A.W.

answers from San Francisco on

When my daughter was congested at 5months, our pediatrician had us give her breast milk using a baby plastic syringe. Or you could us a baby eye dropper. You would squirt a little bit in the bottom of the baby mouth, toward the back between the cheek and gums. This will allow the liquid to stay in the baby's mouth and essentially force the baby to swallow. It worked every time. Just remember to only put a drop or two of liquid in the baby's mouth at a time.

Hope it can help.
A.

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E.E.

answers from San Francisco on

R.,
Just give him food that has a lot of water in it-like fruits and veggies. We all feel crummy and eat less when we have a cold so don't worry to much. You could also mix his formula with cereal and have him eat it. As long as he is having wet diapers and doesn't have any other signs of dehydration I wouldn't worry about it. I hope he feels better soon!

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D.M.

answers from San Francisco on

try using a sippy cup
i know 7 months is early
but it is worth a try!
good luck:o)

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J.C.

answers from San Francisco on

R.,

Take a step back and relax a little! He is normal and healthy! Once you have given him Tylenol wait about 20 minutes and then try a bottle. If he won’t eat it that is fine, feed him solids. Sucking can sometimes be painful for teething babies. Have water in a bottle available to him all the time just in case he has a moment where he is not hurting and is thirsty. As long as he is eating solids he is doing fine. You may even find that once he is numb and happy he would rather chew on the bottle then actually eat. If you feed him baby cereal there is water or milk in it. As long as he is eating and has wet diapers he is fine. This will only last for a few days and pretty soon he will drink more or be back to normal, so for right now just give him what he is willing to eat. No worries! <grin>

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N.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi R.,

My suggestion is to try numbing his gums with either baby orajel or a frozen teri cloth. Have you tried a different bottle? Maybe the nipple of the bottle you are using is bothering his gums. If he was older, I would say popsicles but he's too young. Good luck.

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L.M.

answers from Sacramento on

Sometimes using Oragel can numb babies throats because they swallow some of it. I hear Hyland's teething tablets work well and just plain tylenol for pain. One more thing, the more you suction the more his nose will fill up and the "snot" will begin to get thicker. Try "Little Noses" saline drops or "Ayr" saline spray to help break it up and then just wipe his nose as it runs. Good Luck, this is a tough cold and flu season! It will take time but he will be just fine.

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A.S.

answers from Bakersfield on

I am a mother of 2 and they were the same way. I got one of those teething rings that look like bubbles connected and put it in the freezer for them to suck on and it seemed to work.

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S.B.

answers from Redding on

Dear R.,
Teething is such a tough time. Especially when you feel you've just tried everything. If you are giving warm liquids in the bottle, try cold. If you are giving cold liquids, try warm. One may work better than the other. I know when I was having a terrible time with my wisdom teeth, (as an adult) I couldn't even sip through a straw. Just that little bit of suction felt like my gums were going to explode. Nipples with larger holes may help. Try a sippie cup, although there is some sucking involved with those too. Assist him with just a regular cup. You take a drink and then offer him some. Just plain water, if you can get some in him, will help alleviate your fears. One more thing you can try......
I had to have an operation when my son was a baby and was in the hospital for a while. My husband, fearing that the baby's formula would spoil if left at room temperature, put ice cubes in the baby's bottles. My son wouldn't take them any other way after that. If he couldn't shake his bottle and hear the ice, he would have no part of it. So, ice bah-bah's it was from then on. When we put him down for the night, we'd give him an ice-water bottle. If he woke up, we could hear him shaking his bottle and then he would go right back to sleep. Juice bars may be too acidic, but you can always try letting him kind of chomp on one of those and see how he likes it. If he is just ready to give up the bottle all together, it won't be the worst thing in the world. He can get fluids in many other ways. Watermelon is full of liquid. Mash it up and give it to him by spoon. You can put some water or white grape juice in a ziploc and freeze it. Peel or cut the baggie away, wrap a wash rag around one end to catch some of what melts (and keep fingers from freezing), and let him have at it.
Take care!

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J.N.

answers from San Francisco on

My pediatrician told me to give my boys tylenol 1/2 hr before eating when they are teething or have a sore throat and aren't eating/drinking well. I don't know if you are opposed to that but it has worked for me because the reason he wasn't eating/drinking was because it hurt to do so.

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M.E.

answers from San Francisco on

my daughter who is also 7 months has/had a stuffy nose and cold, while she was sick the only fluid she would drink was pedialyte. once she started feeling better she went back to formula. Check with your dr./advice nurse. I was blaming everything on teething and cold, I brought her in last week and it turned out to be an ear infection. Good luck.
M.

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S.M.

answers from Yuba City on

R.,
Try using dabbing some clove oil on his gums where you see them red or swollen. You can use a q-tip to apply this to them. You can find the clove oil in the natural section of Bel Air or at Sunflower(health food store). The clove oil will numb the pain so that he will be able to tolertate the sucking on the bottle. Don't put a whole lot of the oil on the q-tip it's pretty strong. He will probably make faces or spit and sputter at first but then he will settle in a matter of a minute when it takes effect. I have used this on all my children before and still use it when they get a tooth ache caused from a sinus infection. I have also used it on myself and it does work.

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A.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi R.,

One thing other moms havent mentioned is that perhaps he may have thrush and that is why he doesnt want the bottle. I would look at this tongue and see if there is some white film you cant wipe off and have him checked out soon.

The sippy cup idea is ok too. As long as he is peeing, has tears when he cries and his mouth is moist, I wouldn't worry too much about fluids.

Good luck.

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T.L.

answers from Fresno on

Try giving him a sippy cup. Buy the one with the "soft Tip", so that he can chew on it when he is not drinking. He will probably love it and won't have to go back to the bottle. It doesn't matter how they get their liquids! One of my grandsons was the same way and the doctors said to just use the sippy cup! At bedtime give him the cup to drink, while changing him,or either sit and hold him while he finishes the cup or lay him down and wait for the cup. It is not good to let him keep the cup, in bed at night or nap. In fact most doctors say you really shouldn't get in the habit of giving them a bottle to take to bed anyhow. The milk is not good on the teeth, if they fall asleep while drinking it. It just stays on them all night long! Hopefully this helps you! I am a full time grandma, during the week, while both of my grandsons' parents work. I took care of the older brother, to one of my grandson's, when he was a baby. Good luck!!!!

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B.J.

answers from San Francisco on

It's very common. Try suctioning his nose, using a tiny bit of warm saline water, and then give Hyland's teething tablets just before nursing.

Stay away from Orajel and brandy - they're nasty and they don't work. I actually used Hyland's when I was cutting a wisdom tooth, and they're not only safe, but they work really well.

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R.C.

answers from Sacramento on

The cold may be making his ears tender/hurt, especially when he sucks on the bottle. There is a natural children's earache product called Similasan, its usually in the cold/pain reliever section of a drug store. I don't know how well it works, but it may be worth a try. Good luck!

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J.F.

answers from Fresno on

You may try a popsicle the cold will soothe his gums. The melted popsicle will provid liquid. Choose one made of fruit, or make your own by blending fruit in the blender and freezing it on popsicle sticks.

J. F

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K.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Given that your son is happily eating solids (probably soothes his gums a bit) and that you are giving him topical pain reliever and motrin, I'm guessing the problem is his ears. He might be feeling pressure in his ears (with colds, fluid can accumulate in the ears causing pressure -- feel plugged like on an airplane -- which worsens with sucking). It's even possible that he has developed an ear infection -- might want to check in with the doc, especially if he has a fever. Of course, teething can cause a slight fever, too, but better to have his ears checked and be fine than not know if he has an infection. The motrin will suppress any fever, too, though. Just feeling cruddy suppresses appetite as well, and he might not be as hungry as usual. Finally, teething itself can cause pain in the ears. That combined with any pressure in his ears from the cold might be making the sucking very painful. Either way, the cold will go away soon (though an ear infection is a different story) and teething ebbs and flows. Once teeth cut, the pain goes away until the next teeth are close to the surface. My son actually liked the bottle when he was teething (liked to chew on it and drink). AThank goodness I was pumping or I would have been the teething toy! He will probably feel better soon. Keep feeding him solids and try to get him to eat Pedialyte pops to stay hydrated. The cold should feel good on his gums and the hydration is important for helping him kick the cold and will help compensate for the lack of milk. His doc can look for ear infections and/or fluid in his ears and should be able to look at his gums and see which teeth are trying to poke out. It's probably worth a visit if he continues to scream with the bottle. Refusing a bottle is one thing (unless he screams whenever frustrated); screaming is another. I hope your little guy feels better soon.
K.

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M.P.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi my son was almost your boys age maybe younger when we fouund out he was allergic to formula. This is why he always had a cold anyways see if you can teach him to drink from a straw I know sounds weird but it worked for us
Good luck
M.

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M.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Hylands Homeopathic Teething Tablets are THE BEST teething product I have ever experienced with my 3 children. My first two children suffered with teething through all of my trials, but when my 3rd child refused to eat or drink anything during teething, I found these tablets (by recommendation) and he ate, drank, slept and the crying stopped. They do wonders! I buy them at Good Health, Rite Aid and maybe Target. Just put the tiny tablets in the mouth - they dissolve and most children like the taste (it's kind of milky sweet)

Keep the Hylands on hand for the next several years. I even used them for my middle son's 12 year molars (at age 10).

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S.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi Rachel:
I have a 3yr old and when she was teething it was difficult for her to drink from her bottle as well. Something to do with the sucking bringing pain to the gums. We would try a couple of things. First take our teething tabs and crush them in our hand, wet a finger and rub the crushed tabs on all the gums until all gone then give it a bit to kick in. Next (if that didn't work), we would take her water, pedialyte or formula and a straw and feed her through the straw. Or she'd get her formula through her cereal and just drink water through the straw. Because you are feeding him through the straw (rather than him sipping from it) it tends to help get fluids in and not much fussiness. It's messy, but it works, at least for us.
My girlfriend's little one never took a sippy or a bottle, she only drinks from a straw and cup. Weird, but it sure did skip a lot of steps and saved some money.

I hope this works for you and good luck.
S.
Stay-at-home mom of one 34 mos old girl.

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A.L.

answers from San Francisco on

We're going through the same thing right now. The advice nurse also assured us that this was normal as it hurts to suck on the bottle when teething. She suggested giving a frozen bagel or cold/wet washcloth to teethe on, offering smaller amounts of liquids more often, vibrating toys. I've also read that if you massage the gums or offer something cold to teethe on right before feeding, it may make it easier to take a bottle. Another idea that I've come across that seemed clever was to fill the bottle nipple with water, put it upside in the freezer, and then offer that to teethe on - not only will that soothe the gums but will also offer a bit of fluids. We're in the process of trying these ideas ourselves. Hope your little one feels better soon.

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L.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi R. ~
My son didn't take to the bottle well when he was teething either. My cousin, (a doctor) said NOT to use Orajel, as it toughens the gums, making it really difficult for the teeth to cut through and making the pain worse. What he recommended was to take an ice cube and wrapping it inside a small wash cloth (wrap it with a rubber band)and just let him suck on it. The ice will melt in his mouth (giving him the liquid he needs) and also numb his gums but not make them tough for the teeth that are coming out. Also, giving him ice (or water) will make the mucous come out easier when he has a cold. I also used Hyland's Teething Tablets; (they're homeopathic) and dissolve in the mouth. Another thing that worked to soothe his gums were taking either a carrot or green onion and putting it into the freezer for awhile and letting him suck on that. When your little one gets hungry, he'll eat.

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C.L.

answers from Fresno on

My daughter didn't refuse the bottle when she was teething, but when babies are sick they may not feel up to eating as much. My daughter sometimes is picky and slow about drinking herbottle, but will eventually drink it all. Have you checked to make sure he doesn't have an ear infection. Also, you could try a sippy cup for formula or water. You could also mix formula in with Oatmeal to get more down him.

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K.L.

answers from San Francisco on

My daughter did the same thing when she started teething at 5 1/2 months old! It was so distressing to me that my infant was refusing the bottle when pumped breast milk was all she was getting, and I was having to force it into her: it was at that point the ped gave us the go ahead to start gentle solid foods, and it was a good thing we did because the teething never stopped and she had ALL of her teeth (but the 2yr molars) by 11 months.
That being said, she didn't refuse the bottle completely throughout those few epic teething months, but she definitely had a huge aversion to it before the teeth would break the surface of her gums. The ped and my friends assured me that this is very normal for babies when teething, and just to take it in stride - try offering him his milk in a sippy cup or help him drink it through a straw (with your help obviously) at mealtime -- you might be surprised that your baby automatically knows how to use both of these without having to be taught! Just keep offering him the bottle, but don't force him into it -- increase his intake of solids for awhile until the tooth in question breaks the surface, and keep offering the bottle when you normally would. This happens to most, if not all, mommies when their children are teething.
My daughter liked the orajel, and it seemed to help: she also liked sucking on a washcloth that I wet, then froze, then dampened again -- I think she liked the texture of the towel on her gums as opposed to it being smooth with other freezeable baby teething toys. She liked chewing on my keys as well, though what baby doesnt?! If you aren't opposed to giving your child an over the counter pain reducer like baby Tylenol when he seems in a lot of discomfort, that may be your saving grace (and definitely better than brandy!). It certainly saved us, and allowed the baby to sleep through the night and bottle feed even while teething and very unhappy about it. I am a total advocate of modern medicine, and felt that I would take advantage of it in order to keep my baby out of pain. Surprise, it worked! and soon the teething was done and that was that.
All in all, don't worry so much about it --- he wont starve himself, and it will be better soon.

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J.R.

answers from Fresno on

HI R.!
I don't have any advice but to say it is completely normal. I have a 6 month old and a 3.5 year old and both went through the same exact thing! Just know it will be over soon!
God Bless you...I work too, but enjoy it. I miss my kids but I'm a better mommy for it...plus I don't have a choice since I'm the bread winner.
Sincerely,
[email protected]____.com

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J.K.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi R.,

I would say that you are knid of in luck. If he is refusing the bottle try taking to the store to pick a big boy sippy cup. One that dose have a spill proof valve. With him having congestion he might think he can't breath so try to suction his nose and rub him with baby vick's. When babies are teething they do get a cold so all of that may be making him feel horrible. If he does have congestion give some nasal saline (just warm water and salt) down his nose so all that stuff can come out so he can breath. Hint if his nose is running let it run that is how all the stuff is going to come out.

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D.C.

answers from Salinas on

have you tried giving him a sippy cup??
Something new..to intrigue him...also popsicles..
He probably can't breathe well with the bottle...
And the saline nose spray helps to thin out the mucus in his nose..good luck..

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L.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi R.--
I don't have any great ideas on soothing his teeth, but you might try a sippy cup or even a regular cup (with lots of help from you, of course), or one of those plastic water bottles with a sport top. My daughter would not take a bottle at all as a baby, but we were successful at introducing a sippy cup at age 4 months, and she loved drinking from water bottles too (just fill it with any liquid you want him to have), so I bet your little guy could do it, too. Also, of course, you could try adding some breast milk or formula to the foods he will eat, to get a little extra in. Hope he's feeling better soon.
Good luck!
L. B.

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A.J.

answers from San Francisco on

I've tried pedialyte in the past, but either they like it, or they don't. So I've given small amounts of watered down 7up (half water, half 7up and just let it sit for a little bit.). Make sure there aren't very much bubbles. The bubbles will give him gas, but he'll get some fluids with a little bit of sugar for energy. I also suggest popsicles or ice cubes you can make into crushed ice. Maybe freeze some juice or even milk. Be careful not to give a big piece of an ice cube because he may choke. The coldness would kinda numb the gums and it's yummy. It might be a little messy, but at least he's getting liquid down in another form.

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G.A.

answers from Sacramento on

I am a great grandmother and have been enjoying being around little 10 month old Maddison, who is also teething. If they won't take the bottle, have you tried to freeze Pedialite and make little popcycles for him? Sometimes they will suck on that to ease their gum pain and they get their liquids with electralites while they are doing it. Guess it would be worth a try. Good luck to you.

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L.H.

answers from San Francisco on

Give him a cup of water, or a cup of formula. Some babies will take a cup when they refuse a bottle.

Also, just leave his mouth alone for now. Orajel is not recommended for babies, as it numbs their mouth too much and then they have trouble eating. That could be one of the problems if you are overusing it. That numb feeling is not so great.

He probably just feels rotten and doesn't feel like eating or drinking much. When I have a cold I pretty much stop eating for a day or two if I feel really awful.

You can try a popsicle made of formula, or a little unsweetened fruit juice and water. He also might enjoy chewing on and sucking a cold wet washcloth.

Also, do not under ANY circumstances put brandy on his gums. Alcohol is totally irritating to the mucous membranes and a baby who is quiet because he is drunk is absolutely not a good thing.

Just keep him cuddled up with you, warm and comfy as much as possible, and keep offering soft, easy-to-digest foods and water in a cup or large spoon. He will be fine.

Warmly,
L. Hamilton
http://www.theportablebaby.com

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J.T.

answers from San Francisco on

Poor baby, and poor mom!

Sippy cups are a great way to go -- he may be ready to wean (both of mine did at about 6 months!), so just go with it. Also, you may want to give him something to 'gnaw' on -- I can't remember their name, but you can find these gizmos with a fine net mesh 'basket' that screws on to a pacifier-like handle -- you can freeze a section of fruit like a banana and pop it into the basket and let him chew on it. Both of my kids loved it when they were teething...

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J.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I have 4 children ranging from 12 to 7 and had a home daycare for 4 years. Let me tell you that it is totally normal for your son not to want to suck on a bottle when his mouth hurts. Be encouraged that he is eating him solids and that he has wet diapers. Keep making sure that he has at least 4 a day. Maybe try to give him his milk in a sippy cup, it may not work but its worth a shot.

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D.W.

answers from San Francisco on

I gave my teething daughter catnip and chamomile tea to help her relax and calm down as well as a frozen carrot to gnaw on.
If you are nursing squirt some milk into the pink eye eye.
Why not try a Tommy Tippee type cup to drink from instead.
Frozen pieces of watermelon are soothing on the gums and get liquid into his body.
It will pass.
Also do you know about putting a pinch of salt in warm water to use as a nasal decongestant?

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