Nearly every parent dreads the teething baby phase. Fussy, uncomfortable babies who refuse to eat and can’t seem to find relief!
It’s frustrating for mummy and daddy, and also quite unpleasant to watch as your little one suffers. But while this is all happening, remember that teething is something that every baby needs to go through (it’s just a part of life, and you’ll get through it together).
Keep reading to learn more about what to expect, as well as some remedies for your teething baby.
How to recognise a teething baby
When teething starts, it should be fairly obvious. If you don’t notice any changes in behaviour or symptoms first, the appearance of your little one’s first tooth will be a dead giveaway! This usually happens when a baby is 4 months old to 6 months old, and the teething baby process doesn’t finish until all the milk teeth grow in. It’s different for every baby, but most children have all their milk teeth by age 2 and a half.
That’s right, it is a very long process! But don’t worry, the teething symptoms won’t be terrible the whole way through. Each tooth grows in individually, and your little one will feel it the most right when one is about to pop up. However, each tooth can take a few weeks to come through. So here’s what you may notice when your baby has a tooth that’s trying to come up:
- Irritability, fussiness, or more crying than usual
- Having trouble sleeping
- Swollen and reddish gums
- Lack of appetite or disinterest in eating
- Lots of drool
- Chewing, biting, rubbing his gums, or sucking on things
- Redness in the face, cheeks, or ears
- Rubbing one ear frequently
With all these annoying symptoms, your teething baby may be feeling very uncomfortable. Eating may bother him, and the excessive drool can sometimes cause a rash on the chin. The best thing you can do is keep a close eye on how he’s feeling and be as attentive as possible. Also, do what you can to relieve some of his pain.
5 ways to soothe your teething baby
There are 5 major different methods of soothing baby teething pain. Some teething remedies are more effective than others, and some are preferred by doctors. These are the 5 main methods:
- Pressure: Just like with sore muscles, sometimes a little pressure is all it takes. This is why babies try to chew or suck on things when they are teething. It’s like a massage to the gums! This is also why teething rings or teething dummies are a go-to for many parents. Experiment with different plastic or rubber ones, or even ones that vibrate. You can also let your teething baby gum on your own clean finger—don’t worry, it won’t hurt! And you can delicately rub your little guy’s gums to help him out.
- Cold: For some little ones, pressure alone doesn’t quite do the trick. Again, just as you would use cold to help soothe aches and pains, it can also be very helpful for your teething baby’s gums. One of the easiest ways to use cold to your advantage is to give him cold drinks or milk, or cold (but not frozen) soft foods, such as strawberries. However, wait until your baby is 6 months old to give him such fruits, since they are likely to trigger allergies.
Additionally, some teething rings are specially designed to be refrigerated, so they’ll be nice and chilly when your little one needs them. Be sure not to put them in the freezer, though, because they get too hard for your baby’s delicate mouth.
Some parents even soak a clean washcloth in water, put it in a plastic baggy, and chill it in the fridge. Then they let the baby chew on the fabric, which has a texture that acts as a massager on the gums. For extra soothing power, you can use chamomile tea instead of water, which is known for its relaxing and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Topical medication: If these first two methods are not providing enough relief, you could try using a topical cream or gel with a numbing agent for your teething baby. Normally you can buy these at a pharmacy. However, make sure not to use any that contain benzocaine, which isn’t safe for children under 2 years. You should also know that topical medication doesn’t typically stay put inside of an active baby’s mouth. If your little guy swallows too much of it, it can numb his gag reflex and increase the chances of choking. So be careful!
- Pain relievers: For some babies, the pain might be so bad that these other remedies don’t do enough. If you decide to use pain relievers, talk to your doctor first and follow the dosage instructions very carefully. You can use baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but don’t use aspirin, as it’s unsafe for children.
- Homeopathic options: Finally, some parents prefer the homeopathic route over pharmaceutical creams or pain relievers. If you do decide to go with this option, talk to a doctor and get approval before you give anything to your baby.