Teething is one of those inevitable growing pains every child must confront sooner rather than later. Parents dread teething, but it is only a short phase that will pass before you know it! However, there are things you can do to prepare and treat your baby for a smooth teething experience and to help you maintain your sanity!
Every child has a different pain tolerance level, and while some children scream for days and even run low-grade fevers, other children seem to sail right through it with hardly a bump in their routine.
Teething usually starts between 6-9 months of age, however, it can begin sooner or later. Some children's teeth come in all at once while other children break a new tooth every week, making the teething process drag on for what seems like years. No two children are the same, so it’s good to figure out what items and teething tools work for your baby and stick with that. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things!
Medicine. When your child is screaming, the first thing to do is to stop the pain and get it under control. Talk to your doctor to see if your baby can have infant Tylenol or other over the counter medicine to help with the discomfort. If your baby has a low pain tolerance, this might be the best path for your sanity! Some babies also experience a mild fever when teething, so having a fever reducer and a pain reliever on hand is a good idea. Ask your doctor about recommended gum gel that your baby can try. There are many natural gum gels you can find at any local grocery store, as well!
Freeze a washcloth. Yes, this is a bit odd and 100% inexpensive, but your baby won’t care! Freeze a wet washcloth (or chill it until it is almost frozen) and let your baby gnaw on it. The baby aisle in your grocery store will also have $5-$10 teething tools like teething rings, teething jewelry, and mesh food feeders that work great for teething! The mesh teething bag is a newer baby accessory on the market and highly effective! You add frozen/cold fruit (or veggies), snap the top shut, and let your baby spend a good hour chewing on it--plus, they get some healthy food in their tummies too!
Keep Teething Appropriate Toys Close To Baby. When you sense that teething has begun, it’s a good idea to go through your baby’s toy box and pull out any toys that are not appropriate to chew on. Replace them with toys that are safe and effective for their gums. When a baby starts teething, they put EVERYTHING in their mouth. Keep rubber toys, teething rings, and teething stuffed animals nearby.
Apply Pressure. The pressure from under the gum is what causes discomfort, so adding pressure back can cause relief. Try using your clean fingers to rub against the tooth and apply pressure to the erupting tooth.
Stay Calm. When your baby is fussing non-stop it can be easy to give in and display frustration. But children reflect the emotions they see their parents acting out. If you stay calm, comforting, and patient around your child, they won’t feel the added stress and will most likely stay calmer. How you exhibit your presence and attitude is powerful!
What Not To Do For A Teething Baby
Like anything in parenting, there are a few “do not's” when helping your baby cope with teething.
The greatest risk for teething babies is choking. Little teethers put everything into their mouths, so make sure to watch your baby when trying new toys to make sure it has no malfunctions or broken parts. Also make sure that when teething does start, there are no harmful items cell phone cords, or small items on the floor or in the wall within their reach.
Never give your baby food unsupervised.
Be careful of homemade or homeopathic teething gels that are not approved by your doctor or the FDA. Toxins that are harmful (and even fatal) to infants can be lurking in these remedies. Make sure to verify before you try!
Don’t ignore your baby. As obvious as this sounds, sometimes all your baby needs when they are in pain is YOU. Rocking and singing to your baby might be all they need, so don’t overlook the power of your presence and attention.
Teething is a right of passage for all children, and while it can be overwhelming at times, you can take hope that your baby is growing, healthy, and meeting developmental milestones!