Most babies get their first teeth around the age of 6 months, but it varies widely. Regardless of age, the first teeth to pop through are usually the two bottom front teeth, known as the lower central incisors. The top two front teeth, known as the upper central incisors, are usually next. After that, the lateral incisors appear, followed by the molars and the canines.
Although many people consider teeth as bones, they are surprisingly a little different and are the hardest part of the human body. Imagine, then, being a tiny baby, exploring and playing, when suddenly you are blasted with a sharp pain. No wonder many children have difficulty with teething periods. I’ve heard people say that teething in babies is like childbirth for women.
How Do I Know When My Baby Is Teething?
Babies love to put everything in their mouths, and they are learning about the world as they do so. This is such a prominent behavior in babies that this stage is called the oral stage. Because they naturally put things in their mouth, it can be hard to know if they are doing it for fun or because they’re teething. However, you can tell if your child is teething if they look like they are intensely chomping down on the item.
Other signs of teething include excessive drool, biting, irritability, and sore or tender gums. Your teething baby may also have a decreased appetite, experience sleeplessness, and pull their ears, chin, or cheeks. Many moms will tell you that a child can also run a fever, have diarrhea, have the symptoms of a cold, get a rash while teething, and some pediatricians seem to agree; however, others believe that teething only causes signs and symptoms in the mouth.
What Should I Do?
So, what do you do? You can’t avoid this pain, even though as parents we wish we could stop our child from experiencing any pain. You can’t prevent it, but you can fight it. Some of these tips will be helpful in helping the teething baby sleep, while others may be more of a daytime remedy.
There are a ton of teething tips out there, so we have combined and organized them to help you choose.
Time For Some Tricks
Try applying pressure to the sore gums to ease the pain. You can either use a clean finger to put pressure, a cold washcloth, or a moistened gauze pad. There are vibrating teethers now that can give a comforting sensation to the gums.
Using cold objects to numb the swollen gums is an old but favorite trick. You can freeze washcloths and let your baby chew on it once it thaws a little. Frozen fruit or veggies can be used when putting in a mesh or silicone teether.
Many teething rings have liquid inside that can be chilled and then chewed on. A spoon that was kept in the refrigerator can be given to your child as well. Make sure that any frozen item you use has had time to thaw because extreme temperatures can be harmful. Some babies (like mine) prefer the teethers at room temperature, so don’t feel like you must put them in the freezer!
There are some great natural, solid wooden teethers sold for children. The texture of the wood is soothing and is safe to be gnawed on. Be sure you select natural wood toys that are not dyed, except with food grade dyes, and have a natural water-based sealant. Read all directions as some need to be oiled before use.
The traditional silicone teething rings are also popular. These objects are made from safe silicone instead of latex or plastic. Teething necklaces have provided relief to some children; these silicone necklaces are made to be worn by the mom and can provide relief to babies as they suck on it while close to you. I was hesitant on trying this method because I felt I would be teaching my child that it is okay to chew on necklaces, meaning that if I ever wanted to wear a regular necklace, I’d have to be sure to keep it away from my baby girl.
Some moms like to bake natural teething biscuits for their babies to chew on. Crunchy food has been offered by some moms as well as cold cucumbers or carrots-just be careful and keep a close eye for choking!
Amber teething necklaces have become all the rage. These adorable little infant necklaces contain Baltic amber, which will release an oil containing succinic acid when pressed against the baby’s body heat. This acid is a natural anti-inflammatory. If you choose to buy this necklace, it is important that the amber comes from the Baltic sea; a true amber teething necklace will contain a certificate of authenticity. It is also crucial that you are very careful with this necklace as it could be a safety hazard. Some parents choose to wrap it around their baby’s wrist or ankle instead of around the neck, or you could just be certain you remove the necklace anytime your baby is laying down or not in your eyesight.
Some parents prefer herbal remedies to ease the teething pain. Chamomile can be used as it has been known to help relax while clove is a natural anesthetic. Finally, rosehip will help the immune system since it contains vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. If you are interested in these herbal remedies, you can boil them into a tea. Then just soak a washcloth into the tea and place in the freezer to be given cold. Or you could rub the tea directly onto the gums.
Sometimes the tricks just don’t cut it when the pain is excruciating. If your doctor has given the okay, you can go ahead and give infant Tylenol or Children’s Motrin. Make sure you use the correct dosage. Be careful of products containing the pain reliever benzocaine, which has been linked to methemoglobinemia — a rare but serious condition that reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. Again, be sure you check with your doctor first.
Focus On Their Health
As mentioned before, some babies have a decreased appetite when teething. Try your best to get them eating and continue breastfeeding/bottle feeding. Eating a low inflammation diet (a fiber-rich diet) will help to reduce inflammation in the gums by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory nutrients to the body. If your teething baby is already eating solids, make sure you give a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (coconut and avocado), and eggs. White foods such as potatoes, dairy, and refined sugar and flour can cause inflammation.
Although it seems odd to worry about this in babies, it is important to keep blood sugar levels balanced because swings in the blood sugar (both high and low) cause stress on the adrenal glands. This stress can cause more inflammation. To avoid blood sugar swings, offer your baby whole foods instead of highly processed snacks. Healthy carbs can be paired with protein and healthy fat.
Whether or not the fevers/cold like symptoms babies experience while teething is related or simply a coincidence, it is a fact that many deal with these symptoms. You can help boost their immune systems with fruits, vegetables, and vitamin D drops. It is also essential to continue breastfeeding or using formula, which is vitamin fortified. And make sure your little one is getting as much sleep as possible.
Since your baby is in pain, be sure to give him/her lots of love. Cuddling, kissing, and extra one-on-one time are great ways to comfort your teething baby. It will also serve as a wonderful distraction from the pain. Some breastfeeding mamas say their babies needed to nurse more and were comforted in that way.
As always, be extremely mindful of what you are giving your child. I personally tried to choose the homeopathic remedies, but the FDA has recommended avoiding these kinds of teething gels or tablets because of dangerous ingredients found inside. In fact, some have even been recalled. Lastly, many people use baby teething gel, such as Orajel. While this gel is extremely popular, some doctors discourage its use because it can numb the throat and cause choking.
If nothing seems to be relieving the discomfort or pain and your child seems very uncomfortable, you may need to call your doctor. It is possible that an illness was caught from something that was put inside your child’s mouth while teething. Teething baby gums tend to swell, but if the swollen gum turns red or blue, your child may need to see a dentist.
Hopefully, these teething baby tricks will work for you and your child. It’s so hard to watch your child in pain but just keep trying until something works. My little one just likes to chomp down on everything and will use her pacifier and sippy cup nipple rather than a teether. Techniques that worked one day for you may not work another day, and vice versa.
If your child has not had any teeth and he/she is one year old, you may want to take a visit to the dentist for a check-up. Happy teething!