As irrational as it is, every parent I know has a secret hope that their child will be The One Child who will be fortunate enough to skip teething, entirely, and wake up with a mouth full of beautiful pearly whites literally overnight. Of course, this is not a reality. Very few babies teethe unnoticeably. At some point most parents are forced, by sleepless nights, screaming painful teeth, nursing strikes, low grade fevers, incessant drooling and other common teething signs, to admit that they, too, are destined to battle the Timeless Teething Battle.
You can’t avoid it but you can make it easier on your wee one and yourself by following these top 5 tips:
- Recognize The Signs: Parents mistakenly believe that their child’s behavior or symptoms must not be teething-related if they are not yet six months old. Babies can start teething as young as three months old. And teething doesn’t end when the first tooth pops through. It is a continual process for the first several years of your child’s life and beyond!
- Numb The Gum: Cold is Good in th world of teething babies. Some parents freeze a wet washcloth and let baby go to town on it. Others put ice cubes inside a mesh feeder or even a clean sock tied off at the top. There are teething rings that can be refrigerated so they numb when they are chewed on. This is especially helpful to do if your child has pain related to breastfeeding. Numbing the gums for a few seconds before offering the breast can make a world of difference.
- Hyper Stimulate: Counter pressure, similar to that used during labor, can do wonders on painful throbbing gums. A parent’s clean finger pressing gently on the gums or massaged can be a great relief. There are also vibrating teething toys that provide increased pressure over regular teethers, offering additional relief.
- Don’t Hesitate – Medicate: Not you, silly, your baby!!! Homeopathic teething tablets, such as those made by Hylands, can be a miracle for teething babies! They work instantly, if they work at all. Because it is not truly a drug, it is perfectly safe for use in babies and the worst that could happen is there would be no effect at all. Hylands also makes teething gel which also works well. I’m not a big fan of gum numbing agents such as Orajel but they can provide temporary relief needed for teething babies to at least make it through a nap, if all else fails. However avoid using these numbing agents prior to breastfeeding as they can make suckling difficult for the baby. If your child is absolutely miserable and can’t sleep due to the pain, talk to your child’s doctor about using a pain reliever such as Infant Motrin to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Protect the Neck: Drooling is a characteristic side-effect of teething. It is harmless, in and of itself; however a drooly baby often suffers from dryness or irritation from constantly wet skin. If the drool bib just won’t cut it, use a barrier product on your child’s chin and neck during the peak drool episodes to protect from “drool rash”. Some parents swear by lanolin, such as Lansinoh but children who are prone to allergies should avoid it and use another barrier ointment instead.
Before long you will be snapping photos of your baby’s new beautiful grin for all to see and your teething pain, and that of your sweet bundle of joy, will be a distant memory.