Many parents (even first time) know the tell tale signs of teething: tender gums, chewing on solid objects, irritability and lots and lots of drooling. Though timing varies for each baby, teething often begins around 4 to 7 months of age and can be a tedious and uncomfortable process for babies and their parents. When teething strikes, here are 10 tips to help soothe your baby’s aching gums:
Applying light pressure and massaging your baby’s gums using a clean index finger or damp washcloth may help sooth soreness.
Chilled baby spoon
Allow your baby to suck on a chilled, soft tip spoon. The coolness will help reduce the tenderness of swollen gums. Be sure to place the spoon in the refrigerator to chill, not the freezer. A frozen spoon may stick to the gums.
Cold, wet washcloth
Babies, especially when teething, love to suck on pretty much anything. Dip a clean washcloth in water or breast milk and chill in the refrigerator. The cold washcloth will help reduce soreness from teething and soak up some of the drool that goes along with it.
If your baby is breast fed, nursing can be a huge source of comfort. Nursing can help calm your baby and distract him from teething pain.
Teethers come in all shapes, sizes and types, from soft rubber to plush. There are even teethers that vibrate and gently massage your baby’s gums. Whatever teether you decide on for your baby, make sure it is BPA, phthalate and latex free and isn’t liquid filled (as there is the risk of leaking in your baby’s mouth). Chill your baby’s teether in the refrigerator for an added soothing element.
If your baby is eating solids, dissolvable teething biscuits or crackers are perfect for munching.
Place some chilled or frozen fruit, like cut up bananas, in a mesh feeder. The coolness and fruity flavor can be a tasty and soothing distraction.
If your teething baby has moved on from the bottle, a hard tip sippy cup is good for chewing and biting.
There are many medicated topical treatments available that can be rubbed directly on your baby’s gums to provide anesthetic pain relief. First, consult your pediatrician about using this type of medication to make sure it is safe for your baby.
Sometimes, your baby just needs a distraction from the discomfort of teething. Spend some time playing with your baby to help focus his attention elsewhere.
Remember, NEVER leave your baby alone with any objects you give him to put in his mouth. Leaving a baby unattended with objects in his mouth is a choking hazard. For information on proper dental care and cavity prevention for your child’s incoming teeth, read “Facts About Dental Cavities in Children” by Dr. Brian D. Hodgson.
What is your favorite soother for a teething baby?
Sara Peronto is the Marketing Manager at Penfield Children’s Center and Editor of PenfieldBuildingBlocks.org.
Article reviewed by Melissa Hendrickson, RN and Director of Health Services at Penfield Children’s Center.
Cohen, Marisa. “Your Baby’s Teething Timeline.” Parents. 16 January 2014. < http://www.parents.com/baby/health/baby-teeth/baby-teething-timeline/>.
“Teething: Tips for Soothing Sore Gums.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 16 January 2014. < http://www.mayoclinic.org/teething/art-20046378>.