Crankiness, crying, refusing to eat. These are just a few of the symptoms that your baby is teething, a process that typically begins around 6 months of age. Although teeth buds have been lying in wait in your child’s mouth since before birth, the teeth don’t actually start poking through the gums until the middle of the first year. When they start to come through, the pressure of the tooth breaking through the gum line can cause your child pain and discomfort, unleashing a whole host of ailments including
- uncontrollable drooling (often causing red cheeks or chin)
- an unwillingness to nurse or drink from a bottle (the sucking motion increases blood flow to the mouth, which can make the pain worse)
- pulling on the ears (due to “referred” pain)
- a desperate need to gnaw on anything and everything in sight
Some babies—and their parents—are lucky; teething can sometimes be a relatively painless process, and you may not even know teeth are on their way until you spot the telltale white nub in the front of your child’s mouth. But for many others, teething is a long and frustrating process.
Here are 3 tips can help ease this discomfort, though, and as soon as you learn what works for your individual child, the arrival of the next few teeth will be a much smoother process.
- Chew the pain away. Allow your child to gnaw on teething toys, rings or a washcloth soaked in cold water. (Cold is good, but freezing can actually make things worse.) If your child is eating solids, a refrigerated cucumber or frozen bagel can also feel comforting (just watch carefully to avoid the risk of choking).
- Massage your baby’s sore gums with a clean finger or soft cloth; the pressure will relieve some discomfort.
- If all else fails, ask us about giving your child an over-the-counter pain reliever or an oral analgesic.
The duration of the teething period is actually quite short, although it can feel interminable. By following these suggestions, you can make teething phase less painful for you and your child.