Is your baby teething? If so, you’re probably dealing with a baby who is fussier than usual, waking often at night, drooling, and needing some extra snuggles. Teething can be as tough on parents as it is on the baby. But there are ways to make it easier on everyone.
Teething can start as early as 2-3 months for some babies, which is rare. Typically, teething begins anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Often it begins just when your baby has started to sleep through the night or has settled into a predictable sleep schedule, seemingly throwing off all the good progress. But the good news is that teething pain will end once the offending tooth pops through the gums (until the next round begins).
Until that time, here are some strategies for coping with teething so that you and your baby can feel more relaxed and get better sleep.
Use Teething Toys
Teething toys are made to be gummed and chewed on by babies whose teeth are trying to come in. The best, safest teething toys are made of silicone or rubber. Many babies prefer teething toys with texture like ridges or bumps. Some teething toys are made of cloth, which is also a good option. Just be sure to avoid teething toys that are filled with water or gel because these can break open. You can place toys in the refrigerator to chill them before giving them to your baby to chew, but avoid putting them in the freezer because they may become too hard and be harmful to your baby’s gums.
Offer Cold Fruit
Cold fruit makes a tasty snack and can soothe sore gums. Put chilled fruit in a mesh feeder to avoid choking. Your baby can gum on the cold fruit through the mesh and only get pieces that are small enough to swallow. The sweetness of the fruit provides an incentive to chew and the cold helps to numb their gums.
Chill a Wet Washcloth
A wet washcloth that has been chilled in the fridge makes a good teether. Babies like the texture of the cloth as it rubs over their sore gums and the cold provides a numbing element. Just make sure the washcloth is clean and replace it with each use.
Put a Metal Spoon in the Fridge
Metal, which already tends to feel cold, becomes an even more soothing teether when it is placed in the refrigerator. A spoon should only be used under supervision to prevent choking. Using a spoon also encourages self feeding and helps to develop fine motor skills such as grip and hand to mouth coordination.
Sometimes it is helpful to massage your baby’s gums. With freshly washed hands, use a finger to massage the gums where you notice any redness, especially the front of the bottom jaw where the first tooth typically comes in. You can do this while snuggling with your baby or getting them ready for bed or naptime. It can also help to use an infant toothbrush that fits over your finger with rubber bristles.
Use Bibs for Drooling
Teething tends to result in excess drooling. If the front of your baby’s shirt is constantly wet, put a cloth bib on over their clothes to absorb the drool. Wipe their face frequently, but gently, to keep it dry. When the face, neck, and chest are constantly wet, it can lead to a rash. Be sure to keep the neck folds clean and dry or an infection can develop.
Pain Relief Medication
Ask your dentist or pediatrician what type of over the counter pain reliever they recommend. Most likely either Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen) would be best to relieve teething pain and help your baby sleep at night. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication, which can help relieve the inflammation of the gums due to teething.
When to Visit Orange County Pediatric Dentistry
Most babies have a tooth in place that can be seen by the time they reach one year old. This is when it’s time to make their first dental appointment. Orange County Pediatric Dentistry provides a comprehensive range of dental services to babies and children. We will ensure your baby’s first dental experience and each one after is pleasant.