Whilst teething can be an uncomfortable and difficult for babies and toddlers, it can also have an impact on parents and carers. It’s difficult to see your little one in pain and soothing them can sometimes feel impossible which can lead to additional parental stress.
Thankfully, there are several techniques you can use to help alleviate some of the mental strain that babies teething can cause us adults. One of which is mindfulness, which we’re discussing below.
What is mindfulness?
The dictionary definition of mindfulness is:
- the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
- a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Simply put, mindfulness is the practice of paying full attention to something, usually yourself, and being fully present. It means focusing on what you are doing and where you are, rather than focusing on external factors that are not within your control.
How can mindfulness help my teething baby?
Mindfulness itself may not help your teething baby, perse, however it can certainly help parents and carers cope with some of the stresses that teething brings. It is important that you do not forget to look after yourself whilst going through teething, as the saying goes you can’t pour from an empty cup. Mindfulness may not work for everyone, but if it works for you and you’re able to fit it into your days you’re well on your way to keeping that cup topped up.
Thoughts as Buses
Mindfulness can help to give you a way of thinking about your own thoughts – especially negative ones, by helping you to see those kinds of thoughts in a more objective way. In other words, to see them as things that you have some degree of control over, rather than being just pulled along by them.
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre stated the below in an interview on the NHS website1
“Some people find it very difficult to practice mindfulness,” he says. “As soon as they stop what they’re doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in.”
“It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn’t about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events.”
“Imagine standing at a bus station and seeing ‘thought buses’ coming and going without having to get on them and be taken away. This can be very hard at first, but with gentle persistence it is possible.”
Thinking of thoughts as buses, rather than thinking about a train of thought – which sounds like something you can’t get off once those negative thoughts come along – can help you to choose whether to think about certain things or not. Do you want to get on that bus and think about that thought? Or would you prefer to let it drive on past?
Learning a few simple techniques to help you concentrate on something else at times of need, is a form of mindfulness that can help you feel present in the moment and can also lead to you experiencing some much needed ‘me time.’ It might take some trial and error to see what works for you, but the below are a few ideas:
The Bathmat Technique
If you have a fluffy bathmat, or rug, when you’re up in the night and struggling with a grizzly baby, stand on it and concentrate – really concentrate – on the sensation of the material on your bare feet and the strands coming up between your toes. It can take a while and you do have to make a conscious effort; try to visualise the strands between your toes in huge detail – but it does give you a few minutes ‘time out.’
A simple one, that’s easy to remember2:
Breathe in through your nose for four seconds.
Hold your breath for seven seconds.
Breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds.
Try a few rounds of the above breathing technique when you need it and see how you feel.
Leave Your phone Downstairs
If your phone is your go-to distraction when your little one is feeling a bit grizzly during the night but you’re being left feeling unable to sleep afterwards or like you can’t focus well on your little one, why not try leaving your phone downstairs? Or at least in another room?
Our phones are important to us, and during the night when you’re awake scrolling through social media can help us feel less isolated and there is no shame in that. However not having your phone can allow you to just concentrate on your baby. It can mean they settle down a lot sooner and you can get back to sleep faster, as well.
Try Different Mindfulness Techniques
The above are just some easy ideas of mindfulness techniques you can try but have a look around online and ask any friends who practice mindfulness what works for them. There are also lots of meditation guidance videos you can find on YouTube if that sounds like something you would like to try.
And remember, if there’s one thing, we’d suggest you take away from this blog, it’s this: thoughts are like buses. And you don’t have to get on them.