Written by a contributing writer
When you were younger, you might not have been able to understand why babies made such a racket when their teeth started coming through. Then, in your late teens, you probably had a huge shock to your system: your wisdom teeth starting to grow. Your jaw would ache, your teeth would ache and feel wobbly, your neck and your head would ache. The ulcers would drive you mad - you wouldn’t be able to eat, sleep, or talk. And all of a sudden, you understand why babies scream so much. It’s hard to cope with four teeth coming up - let alone a mouthful.
So, with an enlightened view on teething, when your own kids teethe you start out as super empathetic and not mind missing an hour or two of sleep. Then you wake up in the real world and realize you have a house and a family to look after... on less than 30 minutes of sleep.
You’re not alone when it comes to teething troubles. And the good news - it doesn’t last forever! But to help you get through it with as little pain as possible, here are some top tried and tested tips to help your little ones through this period. If you’ve got any great ideas be sure to leave a comment below.
How do you know if your baby is teething?
Well, if the constant crying and screaming doesn’t give it away, watch out for excessive drooling, chewing on solid objects, and exceptional irritability. Depending on how far along in the teething process they are, you might also be able to see teeth coming through - or feel them if your baby likes to chew on you!
Yep, baby is definitely teething. How can you help?
As much as you’d love to take all the pain away from your children, unfortunately, you can’t all the time. All you can do is help them feel more comfortable and limit the likelihood of anything going wrong.
1. Apply pressure
One of the simplest ways to help relieve your child of pain is to rub or apply pressure to their gums. Make sure you’ve got clean hands and just press your finger against their gums. They’ll probably enjoy chewing on your finger too, while it’s there.
2. Stay cool
Take this in two ways. Parents: this will pass. Your children won’t teethe forever.
Secondly, the cold will help soothe your children’s gums. A chilled spoon, cloth, teething ring, or food will help ease the discomfort. Follow any instructions on teethers. And while chilled and cold is good, frozen is not. Don’t give your child anything frozen to put on their gums - this could do more harm than good.
3. Invest in fun things to chew
If your darling one has managed to chew bigger holes in your belongings than the puppy did, it’s time to get some real teething objects. There’s a huge number of teething rings on the market, so have a look at the shapes and materials and decide which would be best for your child. From soft plastics to wood, there are loads of choices, and you can get them in all shapes and sizes - check out Amazon’s top sellers for some inspiration.
Image credit here
You can even find teething blocks on a necklace for you moms to wear! That way, baby can get the cuddles he or she needs, without resorting to chewing on your nice necklaces or earrings.
4. Get inventive with food
If your child is over six months old, you could give them solid food to chew on, as well as giving them teethers. Raw fruit and vegetables, like carrot sticks and apples, are ideal. Or if they don’t fancy the healthy route, try a crust of bread or a breadstick. Just don’t leave them chewing on food unsupervised - to avoid the mess at the very least!
It’s best to avoid biscuit-type foods like rusks, as they nearly always contain sugar - and that’s the last thing your baby’s new teeth needs. On that note: now that the teething has started, it’s time to find a dentist to take care of your baby’s new gnashers. And once their teeth have come through and the cleaning begins, see how you can make it more bearable with these tips in this blog post.
5. Use teething gels
If your baby is really suffering, try using teething gels. You can rub them straight onto their gums, and the relief is almost instant. It doesn’t last long, but it hopefully gives you enough time to get them back to sleep, or distracted with another story or song, before the pain comes back.
Choose a gel that’s sugar-free, suitable for very young children, and ideally look for one with antiseptic properties. This will help combat any bacteria or possible infections in your baby’s gums. They’re going to be vulnerable while breaking, and you don’t want anything nasty to get in.
Likewise, you could use baby-friendly painkillers. Ensure you use the right medicine and dosage for your child’s age - ask your doctor or pharmacist for help if you aren’t sure.
6. Go down the homeopathic route
Before you try any homeopathic remedies, always consult your doctor first. They will be able to recommend any natural options and tell you which to avoid. Rosehip and Chamomile are among the most popular natural remedies, and are available in tablet form, like most other natural options. And while homeopathic remedies can have a great effect, watch out for the side effects of teething tablets. You should always monitor your baby closely after giving them any tablets or gels and be quick to alert emergency services or your doctor if you have any worries at all.
7. Prevent rashes and infections
Excessive drooling is part and parcel of the teething process. But just because it’s normal doesn’t make it a pleasant affair. Your baby’s skin can get quite irritated and sore from all the drooling (and subsequent wiping), so try to stay on top of it, before it becomes an issue. As well as wiping the drool away with a clean, soft cloth, you could also try applying some moisturizing cream. Make sure this is safe for your child’s skin, and ask a doctor or nurse for any recommendations. Petroleum jelly also works well, just follow any age-related guidance.
8. Keep baby distracted
If you’ve tried everything, and your little one is still getting upset, then you might just have to up the distraction factor. Get out their favorite stories and toys, and keep playing until you’ve taken the edge off. Plus, if they’re super tired in the day, the theory is that they’ll sleep better at night… But you’re probably still waiting to see the truth in that one.