Adam has had mild patches of eczema on his cheek and upper arms and elbows for a couple weeks. In the last 24 hours or so, the patch on his cheek got very angry so we found a walk-in clinic yesterday afternoon to get a prescription for some antibiotic cream. As it turns out, the constant gnawing on his fingers has lead to an infection there as well. Awesome.
The doctor was very nice and helpful, but she did suggest that we not let him chew on his fingers. When the drool faucet turned on at 2 and a half months, Adam began chewing and sucking his fingers like it was the best thing he had ever found (maybe it was). He won’t take a pacifier – he spits it out with a look of “who do you think you’re fooling?” – and when he started the chewing, he was too small to hold a teething ring. After two weeks of this, he was able to hold a washcloth and the last two weeks has gotten much better at holding a variety of teething accessories. But when he’s tired and frustrated or when he wakes up at night, he resorts to the deliciousness of his fingers.
I’m still swaddling him a night because he doesn’t sleep, or sleep for long, without it, which is partly due to his need to chew his hands. This works out great for using the antibiotic cream on his hands – we can put it on at night and bundle him up and it’s nothing new for him. But during the day, I don’t know how to keep him from using his hands as a chew toy, other than constant distraction. Nevermind that keeping his hands out of his mouth is near impossible, I also think that’s what babies DO. It’s part of learning and exploring. Everything goes into his mouth and if he sees something that he can’t have in his mouth, he stares at it while shoving his hands in his mouth at just the thought of how awesome it would be.
I’ll give his hands a break at night by wrapping him up and I’ll do my best to keep a variety of safe things in his hands to lick and gnaw and chew, but honestly, what sort of advice is that?
An aside: Thomas is American and grew up without insurance for most of his life. I can’t imagine worrying about paying for this impromptu visit to the doctor, not to mention the $53 antibiotic cream, in addition to worrying about my baby. Canadians love to complain – that’s what we do – but it’s hard to not be thankful for publicly funded, universal health care.