There are so many changes that happen in the first years of life, and sometimes it’s difficult to know if your baby is going through a ‘normal’ phase, or if something is wrong.
Teething is a common cause behind difficult or new behaviour in your baby, and teething is different for every child. If your child is doing one of more of these things:
- drooling excessively
- has a runny nose
- rubbing their face or nose
- has difficulty sleeping
- isn’t eating like normal
- is biting or sucking fingers and hands
- pulling at ears or nose
- waking more often during the night
- acting particularly grumpy
- has a facial rash.
The chances are your baby is working on a new tooth!
There could be other reasons, however, for your baby to be doing any of the above that are not teething related, but could be symptomatic of an illness. If your baby exhibits the following:
- diarrhoea or vomiting
- body rashes
- temperature above 38°C.
Chances are they are suffering from an illness and not just teething pain.
Few things are worse than seeing your baby in pain, but if teething is the culprit, there are a several ways to combat the pain caused by those emerging pearly whites.
1. Apply Cold to Quell Aching Gums
Supplying your baby with a cold or frozen cloth or a refrigerated/chilled baby teether can really help them deal with the pain. Frozen wet washcloths are a particularly easy way to test the waters whether or not cold compression works for your baby, but many parents also enjoy using other frozen household items such as frozen carrots, vegetables, or fruits in a mesh teething bag for a cold teether.
Always abstain from using smaller foods (use a mesh teether) and objects, however, as they can pose a choking hazard.
2. Try Chilling Their Favourite Food or Beverage
Placing their favourite puree or beverage in the fridge before snack time can provide temporary relief for your baby’s teething pain. Sometimes, little ones will refuse to eat solid foods during the teething process, but providing chilled foods can sometimes encourage them to eat through the pain.
Some parents even like to refrigerate the spoon and use the rounded side to massage baby’s gums!
3. Consider a Gum Massage
Pressure on a baby’s gums or emerging teeth can help ease their pain.
Some parents prefer to give their babies a wooden spoon or something similar to encourage the baby to chew and eventually help their emerging tooth break through the gums while others opt for a gum massage with clean fingers.
Again, always be careful that whatever your baby is chewing on is nontoxic and doesn’t pose a choking hazard.
4. Choosing a Teether
An item doesn’t have to be marketed as a teething toy to make it one.
Though there are lots of wonderful products out there, including ones that you can put in the fridge or freezer, most often your baby will decide if there is a favourite hard object or plush toy that they prefer to chew on, and the pressure will help relieve their pain and bring out that tooth.
5. Buy (or Make) Teething Biscuits
Whether you buy them at the store or make your own, teething biscuits can provide the aforementioned pressure to your child’s gums to soothe their pain while providing an activity (eating!) that is distracting and pleasurable.
If your baby is already eating finger foods, they may be ready for teething biscuits, but be sure to closely monitor them while they are gnawing due to choking hazards.
6. Nurse for Comfort and to Relieve Pressure
If you breastfeed, nursing (and sucking) can be a great way to relieve the pressure in your child’s sinuses that comes from those emerging teeth, and nursing can give great comfort to a baby in pain.
Some babies, however, find that nursing actually increases pain and might go on a nursing strike (don’t worry, they will start eating normally again once the pain subsides). Either way, be careful – often teething gives babies the urge to bite, so you want to be aware of your baby’s cues that they might be ready to chomp down!
7. Try Soothing Chamomile
Chamomile has been a homeopathic remedy for soothing for centuries.
Many mothers like to freeze chamomile tea and place into mesh teethers or simply rub some of the soothing liquid onto their babies gums with a clean finger.
Don’t forget to check to make sure that your tea is 100% caffeine free!
8. Apply Topical Pain Relief (With Caution)
There are many remedies out there that can provide relief for your teething child, most of which come in tablet or drop form. Some mothers swear by the drops, but always make sure to talk to your healthcare professional before introducing anything new to your baby.
9. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for Extreme Pain
Nightime can be a particularly difficult one for a little teether. Lying down can increase sinus pressure, and there is nothing to distract them from the pain. It can also be particularly frustrating if you are in the middle of sleep training as it will seem that everything you have worked so hard for has gone down the drain!
Many parents opt to give their babies acetaminophen or ibuprofen for night time or particularly serious teething pain – be sure to always consult your doctor first, particularly if your baby is younger than 6 months, and always strictly follow dosage instructions.
10. Wear Teething Necklaces Designed for Caretakers
If your teether’s favourite thing to chew on is you, you may want to consider a piece of teething jewellery.
Normally teething jewellery from adults is made from silicon that is dishwasher safe and approved by the FDA for babies (no silicone, BPA, latex, PVC, phthalates, etc), and there are actually some really handsome pieces out there.
The idea is that your little one can grab the teething jewellery, which normally comes in the form of necklaces or bracelets, and gnaw away the pain.
11. Distract Them
During times of teething pain, sometimes the best thing you can do is distract your little one with a new game, a bath, or a toy.
It’s not a strategy that can be implemented all of the time (for example during bed or nap time), but often it’s the best way to help the pain!
A Word of Caution
Certain teething tablets, amber necklaces, and a few other teething tricks have been recalled by the FDA due to choking and other hazards, so be sure that you double check with your health care professional that your teething strategy is safe for you baby.
Doctors also warn against the use of topical anaesthetics as they can make it easier for babies to choke on other things (such as food).