Irritability, trouble sleeping, drooling, sucking or chewing on everything – while there’s no one set of symptoms, these are all signs that your sweet little cherub is going through a most uncomfortable phase of babyhood – teething. Most babies start teething sometime after six months old but like most stages of development, there is no one set start and end time, and each child is different. Teething babies can be fussy, tired or both, but as a mother, it doesn’t matter – all you want to do is make your teething baby feel better. So, we’ve got some helpful tips to get you and your little one through this trying time.
Mouth Massage: Your elder relatives most likely told stories of using “just a touch” of brandy on a teething baby’s gums, but, we don’t usually encourage that for another 21 years or so! However, a clean finger and a little gum massage by Mom or Dad can definitely help your baby feel better. This is especially soothing in your child’s early days of teething – as they get a little older and have a mouthful of little choppers, you may opt for a different remedy! But when your little one is curled up in your arms, it just may do the trick.
Cool as a Cucumber: No joke. A chilled cucumber, banana or apple slices can feel great to a teething baby, giving them something on which to gnaw and chew. If you go the food route, it is recommended that you use a mesh feeder or something similar so that you don’t have to worry about large chunks of food breaking off. If you prefer something softer, chilled applesauce or yogurt are always great choices. A cold washcloth also works wonders as it lets your baby chew on something, catches the drool and the coolness feels wonderful on your baby’s swollen, irritated gums. Another trick is a chilled spoon or a teething toy or ring. Keep in mind, however, that the key word is chilled, not frozen as severe cold might be too harsh for your child’s tender gums.
Popsicle Pain Relief: In this age of healthy, non-processed, natural foods, nothing is better than a homemade popsicle! Many options abound, but here are a few tried-and-true favorites:
- Fruity fun: Strawberries and bananas puree and freeze.
- Island delight: Coconut milk, mango and bananas – puree and freeze.
- Dairy dream: Your baby’s favorite yogurt and freeze!
- Milky goodness: Whether your baby is taking formula or breast milk, both of these freeze beautifully for a yummy, soothing pop!
And if these don’t tempt your baby’s taste buds, check online where the options abound!
Dazzle with Distraction: Often, the best way to soothe a fussy baby is a change of scenery or a different distraction. Crawl around on the floor, build with blocks, play a new game. You might even go for a walk or run a bath and let Baby get bubbly. The main idea is to distract them from their discomfort and delight them with something new!
Something to Soothe the Pain: Check with your pediatrician first, but if your baby is uncomfortable and other remedies are not doing the trick, you may want to use an over-the-counter medicine. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen (depending on your child’s age) can often help, especially if your baby is having difficulties sleeping at night. There are also some topical options, but again, you want to ask your doctor. Traditional teething medications like Orajel and Anbesol contain benzocaine, an ingredient which the FDA has determined to be unsuitable for babies. However, there are benzocaine-free options which your doctor can recommend. Rule of thumb – whether it’s OTC, homeopathic or even “natural,” always check with your pediatrician to make sure it’s right for your child.
Teething can be a miserable stage, for both child and Mom, but these helpful treatments are sure to make the experience a bit easier. And, though you may have moments of exhaustion where you feel like giving up, just remember that like all stages, this too will pass. American writer Gretchen Rubin once wrote, “the days are long but the years are short.” So, treasure them all – the good, bad and the ugly. It’s what makes you a Mom.
“It’s Popsicle Season.” Paperwhites.com. http://paperwhitesblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/its-popsicle-season.html. July 8, 2013.
Mayo Clinic. “Teething: Tips for Soothing Sore Gums.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/teething/art-20046378. October 25, 2016.
Rosen, Melanie Monroe. “Safe Baby Teething Remedies.” http://www.parenting.com/gallery/baby-teething-remedies