Growing teeth isn’t easy for anyone. For babies, the process is painful, confusing and frustrating. For parents, the combination of sleep disruption and seeing their baby in pain takes a physical and emotional toll. The timing of this can vary widely. Some babies are born with their first teeth, but for many, teeth will begin appearing anywhere between 4-13 months, with around 6 months seeming to be the average. Thankfully, there are a number of tried-and-true tricks to help ease your little one’s discomfort and help make the process a little easier.
- Frozen Washcloth
Many parents find that a frozen washcloth does wonders for their teething baby. There are a few reasons for this. The cold helps to gently numb affected areas and soothes inflammation where the teeth are coming up. And sucking or chewing on the cloth is a softer alternative to teething rings. Because cloth can be easily handled by tiny hands, babies can move it around the mouth to spots that bother them most.
- Massage Their Gums
Before teeth start to poke through, it may help relieve some of your teething baby’s pain if you massage their gums. Gently running your finger along their gums applies enough pressure to soothe some of the pain, and can be done any time, particularly when it may not be convenient to grab something out of the diaper bag. It is important to ensure that your hands are clean and sanitary before doing this. Once teeth have broken through, you may want to avoid this as babies will bite down and even tiny teeth can be surprisingly painful.
- Large Cold Carrot or Cucumber
While your baby is teething, they may try to nurse more than usual, not because they are hungry, but simply because the pressure created by sucking relieves pain. An alternative that works for many is a large, cold carrot or cucumber. This is primarily useful before teeth break through, as there is no danger of your baby actually eating the vegetable. After teeth begin to appear, you may need to find another alternative. Cooling or even freezing the veggies first again helps to numb affected areas, but also ensures that the fruit is hard and your baby will not tear off solid chunks before they’re ready for such food. Many parents have found this to a be a useful tip, but it is important to note that your baby should be under direct supervision anytime they have something in their mouth.
- Teething Ring Soft Toy
Sometimes all your baby wants when teething is something to chew on. A teething ring applies direct pressure to the gums where they are irritated, while having the added benefit of distracting them from chewing on something else (like your fingers!). Try one something like one of these baby boy teething rings or a baby girl teething ring. Some babies like to have their teething ring frozen or placed in the fridge to cool it down before chewing, but the benefits are undeniable either way. Plus, many teething rings double as a toy, which also helps to turn your little one’s focus away from their mouth and distract them from the pain.
- Soothing Gel
There are a number of gels available to help dull the pain of teething that can be found in major retailers. The FDA has strict guidelines that govern what can go into a safe, healthy baby product, so make sure to only purchase products approved specifically for use on babies. Even some common over the counter products are not approved for babies due to the ingredients they contain. For parents who prefer a natural gel, there are several available that have been approved by the FDA and can be purchased with confidence. If you have any questions, your local pediatric dentist can provide a recommendation.
- Baby Acetaminophen
It is not uncommon for a baby to get a small fever while teething. While a bit of a temperature should not be concerning, it can add to the pain and frustration your little one experiences. A baby dose of acetaminophen can help both with the pain and also bring down the temperature. Always consult your pediatrician before administering any medicine to your baby. And if your baby’s temperature concerns you, schedule an appointment to talk it over with your doctor.
- Cuddling & Comfort
Trying any of these tips other ideas to reduce the discomfort your little one experiences during teething may help your baby, but there is no way to eliminate the pain of growing new teeth altogether. There will be tears. If nothing seems to be working, there’s no reason to feel guilty. Cuddle your little one close, soothe them as best you can, and know that this too will pass. Soon, they will have a mouth full of teeth and an appetite for many new and exciting solid foods. Until then, show them all the love and comfort you can.