When baby teeth start to form it can be a painful and stressful process for a child who is unable to articulate what they’re feeling. This is often accompanied by crying fits, understandable crankiness, and major stress on parents who do not enjoy seeing their children suffer. For centuries, there have been holistic methods to deal with teething infants that have been passed down from generation to generation, and some people swear by them. However, dentists prefer to use science-backed information on how to help your teething baby while they are developing.
Babies typically begin growing their baby teeth at around six months of age. Usually, the bottom two teeth, or lower central incisors, come in first, followed by the top two front teeth. Teething is usually accompanied by drooling, excessive chewing, irritability, tender gums, and sometimes a low-grade fever. Some parents will try anything to soothe their infant, particularly if teething is interfering with scheduled nap and sleep times, and there are a couple of handy methods that could provide relief:
Let them Chew
It’s okay let your babies seek relief from stimulating their gums through chewing. It’s a totally natural and biological method that they will explore on their own. There are various kinds of chew toys for infants that have ridges, ripples, and other textured patterns that can provide extra sensation to help get them through the teething process. Make sure you keep these teething toys and rings clean since they are going to be dropped frequently and put back in their mouths. Also, be sure to keep an eye on their most frequently used teething toys to ensure they remain intact. It’s also a reason why it’s important to use toys specifically for teething, so no parts come off and become choking hazards.
Keep it Cool
Keep pacifiers, spoons, toys, and clean wet washcloths in the refrigerator or freezer for an extra added element of cool to their teething relief options. Just be sure that the item you give them is never too cold for you to hold in your hands comfortably, so it doesn’t cause damage to your baby’s gums. Never give your baby small pieces of ice or other things that can slip and be swallowed by accident as they can pose a major choking hazard. Also be sure to rinse and wash these cool items after every use!
Use Teething Crackers
These modern food inventions for babies are something your own mother probably wishes existed when you were teething. Hard, unsweetened teething crackers can be a great comfort for babies if they are 6-9 months or older. Accompanied with a sippy cup full of cool water, snack time can also double as some relief time for the pressure your baby may feel from their teeth coming in. The best part is that they are quick to dissolve, so they aren’t as big of a choking hazard for babies in the appropriate age range who are already eating solids.
Massage the Gums
Teething is a stressful time, as we can imagine it’s quite a strange sensation for a baby to go through, but massaging their gums is one way to help with the first few teeth. If your baby is particularly fussy, they may feel soothed by the massaging, especially before each feeding. You can also try dipping your fingers in cold water before you insert them in your baby’s mouth to add an extra cooling element to the gum massage. This can also help nursing mothers avoid the dreaded biting of nipples during breastfeeding.
Try a Teething Necklace
This method is one of the wives tales that have been passed down from generation to generation, but some parents swear by it. These amber teething necklaces are widely available in different sizes and are said to release pain-relieving effects when heated by the body. Though science has not supported this, doctors have also been speaking out against these necklaces because they can potentially choke an infant or toddler if left around the neck unattended. If you choose this method, opt for putting it around the baby’s angle or wrist instead.
Apply Teething Medication
There are several options when looking for teething medications and ointments that are rubbed onto your baby’s gums, but not all of them are effective. First, it’s important to understand that these medications will wash away soon after applied to your baby’s gums due to saliva. Second, the active ingredient, benzocaine, should not be given to kids under two years of age. It can cause some serious side-effects, even in small doses. Some doctors have approved the use of children’s pain reliever but make sure you speak with your own personal doctor before administering it.
There are also several things to keep in mind during this teething process. Wiping your baby’s drool regularly is important in preventing irritation around the mouth that can be brought on by dried saliva. Keep a washcloth handy and wipe their faces several times a day, also moisturizing that area to prevent crack or dry skin, particularly if you live somewhere with cold weather. Most if not all teething issues that may come about are things you can deal with at home but don’t hesitate to speak with your baby’s pediatric dentist if you feel your child is struggling with teething more than their peers. Also keep in mind that this is a natural process, however unglamorous it may be in the first few weeks when teeth are starting to form.
While teething can be a hard time for both parents and baby, it’s a process every family has to go through and completely normal. The fussing and crying that can come with teething babies can put sleep-deprived and stressed parents on edge, so make sure you are taking some time for self-care during the early phases of this process. Remember, baby will not be well if the mother and father are not also cared for! Put your faith in the natural teething process and endure it using tried and true methods to help ease your baby’s pain as much as you can.