Teething in babies manifests at different ages, but most kids will get their first tooth anywhere between 4 and 9 months. Interestingly, some babies are born with their first tooth, so the time of teething is really dependent on your baby’s growth. Some babies will develop teeth without any fuss or discomfort, but for a good number, this phase is accompanied by pain and general fussiness.
In such cases, if you are keen, you should notice a number of accompanying symptoms. The most obvious symptom is a reddened section of the gum at the point where the tooth emerges. Other symptoms include excessive drooling, chewing in anything that baby lays their hand and becoming a lot more fretful. Some babies will also show a flushed cheek.
While it is yet to be proven, a number of parents suspect that teething may also be accompanied by fever and loose watery stool, but studies are yet to confirm this. At the end of the day, you know your baby best, so if there are any symptoms that cause you to worry, make sure you seek the opinion of a qualified pediatrician.
Knowing what to do during your baby’s teething is key to alleviating the symptoms and making the condition far more manageable. Even with the use of these remedies, you need to keep in mind that teething may occur for up to a year as the different teeth start to show. More importantly, teething should not stop you from nursing your baby (although you may suffer the occasional bite as baby tries to soothe their sore gums). For all the remedies indicated below, you need to make sure that your hands are clean, and that your choice remedy (whether frozen food or teething toy) is washed before use.
1. Frozen Wet Washcloth:
Time required: 20 Min
What You Need: Wet washcloth and ice cubes. Pacifier or cold metal spoon (optional).
The essence of using a frozen wet washcloth is that the low temperatures help numb the pain and soothe the sore gums. Be careful, however, to ensure that the washcloths are clean and disinfected prior to baby using them. Afterwards, make sure you clean once more to prevent the possibility of infection. In addition to washcloths, you could also use celery.
Some people opt to use frozen carrots, but this always increases the risk of choking, so it may not be advisable. In place of the wet washcloth, you may opt to freeze your baby’s pacifier for the same effect, provided it is sterilized prior to use. The cold metal spoon on the other hand, will ease the pain and comfort your little one.
- Place the clean washcloth on the tray containing the ice cubes before freezing for about 5 minutes.
- Once this time elapses, get the frozen washcloth and gently prop it up your baby’s mouth depending on the location of the soon-to-emerge teeth.
- Gently rub the washcloth on the gum, taking care not to push it up further ahead.
- Do this for 5 minutes and take a minute-long break.
- Repeat about three more times. Use this remedy as often as baby experiences discomfort to get relief from the symptoms of teething.
2. Gum Massage:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Clean finger and/or finger-condom textured gum brushes.
A gum massage is a simple yet effective home remedy for teething babies, one which has been passed down generations. All you need is a clean finger which you will place on your baby’s gum and press as gently as you can. This helps relief the pressure, thus easing the discomfort associated with teething. The beauty about this remedy is that you can use it virtually anywhere, provided you can clean your hands. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, this does not harm the baby, and your little chomper actually enjoys nibbling on your fat finger! If you prefer, you may also add to this the finger-condom textured gum brushes that work in the same way (just ensure that they are cleaned well prior to use).
- Clean your finger and then allow your baby to rub their jaws against it.
- Alternatively, use the textured gum brushes to get the job done.
3. ‘Momsicles’ – Popsicles Made From Mom’s Breast Milk:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Frozen breast milk (in cubes) and a teething feeder.
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to deal with teething in babies is to freeze breast milk and make ‘momsicles’. This remedy has the advantage of giving your baby a healthy nutritious option while soothing the sore gums. Think of this fun remedy as one that delivers a double punch. The teething feeder is used for placing the frozen milk in so that baby has a steady constant supply of the remedy. The best things about using a teething feeder is that it allows for you to feed baby without the risk of chocking. This is made possible with the help of a mesh. In addition, these feeders are easy to wash, and can be replaced when the need arises. They are pretty affordable too, so look out for them at your nearest store.
- Place your expressed milk in the ice cube tray and freeze.
- Once frozen, take the cubes and place them in the teething feeder.
- Provide baby with the teething feeder and allow them to enjoy their feeding/teething session.
4. Teething Toys:
Time Required: 10 Min in one sitting (or more is baby needs it).
What You Need: Any of the non-hazardous teething toys you can get at your local store.
Teething toys are an excellent way to capture your baby’s interest while helping them with the pain and discomfort that accompanies teething. When choosing a teething toy, make sure that the different parts of the toy are chewable and safe for baby. Safe toys would typically be made of natural rubber as this is what makes it chewable.
Additionally, the color of most teething toys is made from food pant, which simply means that it does fade over time and with consistent use. Depending on your choice toy, you may also get a bendable baby toothbrush (which, incidentally, gives you a chance to start early on dental health care for your baby).
- Give your baby the teething toy every so often depending on their feeding patterns.
- Make sure you disinfect the toys at least twice daily to prevent the accumulation of bacteria as these thrive in warm moist crevices.
5. Ensure Baby’s Mouth Remains Clean:
Time Required: As often as is required during the day
What You Need: A soft bib or clean washcloth and petroleum jelly.
One of the most common symptoms of teething, as mentioned above, is excessive drooling. The excessive saliva not only adds to the discomfort that baby experiences, it also creates the perfect environment for baby’s delicate skin to get rashes. To ease this discomfort, keep a clean washcloth or bib at hand to wipe off the excess drool. You will also need to apply a protective layer of petroleum jelly to ensure that bay’s chin remains itch-free.
- From time to time, make sure you wipe drool off baby’s chin using the washcloth. It also helps to fasten a bib provided you change it regularly.
- When wiped clean, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the mouth and chin area. Repeat this simple remedy every so often.
6. Applesauce (For Babies Who Are Already Weaned):
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Cold apple sauce. You may use probiotic yogurt in place of the applesauce.
Cold applesauce is an effective remedy for teething babies who have already been weaned as it then serves two purposes: feeding and soothing the pain of teething. This also has the advantage of filling up your baby’s tummy, so they are less likely to be cranky because of hunger. If you can, and whenever possible, feed your baby their choice meals (cold) so that they look forward to the sessions, and you get the advantage of a less fussy kid.
- Refrigerate the applesauce or yogurt and feed your baby slowly over a period of time until they get relief.
- Do this severally during the day to get relief.
7. Teething Jewelry (Worn by the Caregiver):
Time required: Whenever the need arises
What You Need: Specially designed teething jewelry available online.
It is quite common that babies who are teething will get hold of just about anything that they can put in their mouth. For this reason, a number of companies have developed the special teething jewelry worn by moms and caregivers. They work just like teething toys, but have the advantage of hanging around your neck and looking pretty. Just like the toys, the jewelry is typically made from FDA-approved toxin-free rubber, and are available in a wide range of colors to keep your baby intrigued.
- Simply wear the jewelry as and when required and allow baby to chomp on the rubber to their satisfaction. Just make sure that you clean and disinfect the jewelry on a regular basis.
8. Homeopathic Medicine:
Time Required: 10 Min for administration
What You Need: Choice of medicine which would ideally include German chamomile and rhubarb among others (depends on brand).
Homeopathic medicine offers a great solution for teething babies as it provides relief with minimal side effects. This medication would typically contain German chamomile which helps manage the pain and reduces the irritability in the child. Rhubarb on the other hand, helps baby with any potential digestive issues that are thought to affect babies in this stage. Note however, that you may need to check with your pediatrician before administering the medication.
- Follow the directions indicated on the packaging and ensure you monitor baby’s improvement.
9. Distract Your Baby by Engaging them:
Time required: Varies
What You Need: Your baby’s favorite tunes or games.
Sometimes, for fussy teething babies, all it takes is to engage them, in effect distracting them from the teething discomfort. Engage them in their favorite baby tunes, sing for them and play with them. This distraction, even for a few minutes, will keep baby occupied albeit temporarily.
- Take on some time to play, sing for or cuddle your baby.
Teething does not last forever, so take some of these remedies and make the best of it. These remedies, while not permanent, will give you some peace of mind, and certainly help baby feel better.