Posts in Babies
How to Help Your Teething Baby

Twenty little teeth will eventually push their way through your baby's gums, making it easier to chew and digest food. 

The sign of a first baby tooth, sharp under the pad of your index finger, is a moment that gives many parents a big wave of emotion: a mix of excitement and apprehension, sometimes even fear and exasperation.

Those baby teeth may start to make an appearance long before your baby is ready to eat any solid foods. Babies can start teething within the first few months of life, or the first tooth may not emerge until after the first birthday.

Typically, the first teeth to appear are the two bottom center teeth, followed by an upper center tooth. Remember that teething is a very normal developmental process that happens all on its own. You just have to watch and wait for it.

teething baby .jpg

Is it Teething, or Something Else? 

Signs that teething could be happening within the next couple months include drooling, swollen gums, fussy behavior, sleep regressions, and an increased drive to suck or chew on objects. Because these behaviors also often coincide with other developmental milestones off and on throughout your baby’s first year, you never really know for sure if it’s teething until you see that sharp, white protrusion cutting through the gums. 

If your baby has a fever or other signs of illness such as diarrhea, rashes, or congestion, these symptoms are not likely to indicate teething.

How to Help 

Many parents worry that teething will cause a lot of pain, and it is true that for some babies teething does cause discomfort. Other babies appear to not be bothered at all! If your baby seems to be uncomfortable, there are several things you can try to soothe those sore, aching gums.

  • Nurse often if you're breastfeeding

  • Wear your baby in a sling or carrier for comfort

  • Offer a cold, damp washcloth to chew on

  • Massage your baby's gums with a clean, wet index finger

  • Keep a rubber or wooden teething toy with you when you're out & about

  • Refrigerate a metal spoon and allow your baby to explore the cool sensation

  • Wear a chewable teething necklace while babywearing

  • Offer cold fruit in a mesh feeder if older than 6 months

What I Don't Recommend 

  • Homeopathic teething tablets (read more here)

  • Benzocaine or numbing agents (read more here)

  • Amber teething necklaces (read more here)

  • Teething toys or hard solid foods that could come apart or break off (Those gums are strong!)

  • Over the counter pain relievers (unless recommended by your pediatrician - otherwise, save those medications for true illness, not for normal developmental milestones)

Try to remember - teething is a normal, healthy process all babies go through. It's nothing to be afraid of or to fret over. Celebrate them one by one, and don't forget to take photos!


Would you Like some games to play with your teething baby?

Download this free printable of games excerpted from my book, Baby’s First Year Milestones and let the fun distract you both!

Here’s a little sneak preview…

games youll love baby printable.jpg

Download your free collection of games.

  1. Download the games. You’ll get the games, plus gentle, compassionate parenting tips and information about educating your child at home when you join my community of readers.

  2. Print / Save and share it with friends and family members.

  3. Play with your darling little teething baby!

Knocking on Baby's Door

Sometimes the best parenting advice really does come from our grandmothers. Lullabies and little baby games have been passed down from generation to generation, and guess what? They really do promote language and social-emotional development! 

This is a game I played with my babies when they were just a few months old. I learned it from my mother, who learned from her mother, who learned it from my great-grandmother, who was born in Scotland.

There are many variations on this rhyme (and feel free to tweak it to make it your own!) but this version I am sharing with you today is a great one to start with if it's new to you. 

Let’s Play

Who: You and your baby!
Age range: 3rd month and up
Where: on the floor, in the carseat, or even during a diaper change

Watch the video below to learn how to play this game with your little one. 

Free printable: Games You’ll Love Playing with Your Baby

Download your a sample collection of baby games and activities excerpted from my book Baby’s First Year Milestones.

Games You'll LOVE To Play With Your Baby!INSTA.png

Download your free printable here.


KnockOnTheDoorPin.png
Is Your Baby Ready for Solid Foods?

The weaning process begins with the first bite of solid food, long before babies stop nursing. In fact, milk will continue to make up most of your infant’s diet for the entire first year. Most babies are ready for a no-pressure introduction to solid foods around the middle of the first year and not before. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically urges parents to wait until their babies are at least 6 months old before beginning this new stage of life. This brief delay allows your baby to continue to receive the full nutritional benefits of milk while allowing the digestive system to mature. But age alone is not the only factor to consider when gauging whether your infant is ready.

readyforsolids.jpg

So how do you know if your baby is ready for solids? The first sign could be when your baby begins watching intently as you eat and reaching for the food on your plate. Another sign is that your baby has excellent head control and can sit up very well with little to no support. The tongue-thrust or “gag” reflex, where your baby pushes food automatically out of the mouth, is gone, and your baby is eager to bring food into the mouth to be chewed and swallowed. No one can pinpoint exactly when your baby is ready except...your baby!

One possible introduction to solid foods could be a bit of sensory play. While your baby is seated at a table or in a high chair, offer a small amount of a soft, mashed fruit or vegetable such as avocado or sweet potato directly in front of your little one’s eyes. Those exploring fingers will likely bring some of the food up to the mouth for tasting. Another possible introduction is to offer your baby a bit of pureed food on a tiny spoon. You can do this easily while your baby is sitting in your lap. Hold it right in front of your baby at chest-level and allow your baby to grasp the spoon and guide it into the mouth. With either technique, you are helping your baby to learn the art of self-feeding right from the start. Eating should always be an intentional process.

Things to keep in mind:

1. Don't rush it. There's just no need to! Your baby is still getting plenty of nutrition from breastmilk through the end of the first year. Let food be a playful and fun new experience, not a source of worry.
2. Offer, don't force. Let your baby take the lead when it comes to food. Some even wait until their babies themselves find something yummy on the adult plate and nab it!
3. Keep it wholesome. Whatever you choose to offer for a first food experience, your best bet is to make that first introduction a whole, unprocessed type of food without added sweeteners or artificial flavors. 

Your Baby's First Montessori Shelf

During the last trimester of pregnancy, mothers often find themselves scrambling to nest for the baby.  This instinct can be very powerful!  In those last few weeks, we want everything to be perfect for our child's arrival into the world, down to the color of the walls, a sleeping area, the changing area, a rocking chair, toys, books, and a nice stack of diapers at the ready.

babysfirstshelf.jpg

During the first 1-3 months, however, a baby couldn't care less about perfect.  He is focused on gazing into his mother's eyes, wanting comfort through nursing, bouncing, and snuggling.  Even a baby who is less cuddly in nature doesn't need any structured stimulation.  A few basic rattles will do.  Mobiles can be fun to look at if baby is spending a lot of time laying down awake, but when your baby is being carried around in your loving arms and exposed to fresh air outdoors, be rest assured that the surrounding environment is plenty stimulating.

Having a proper "playspace", is not necessary for the first few months. A movement area, however, is absolutely essential. When my sons were babies, I had a supply of baby blankets, and it was easy to lay down a blanket for baby to play on in whatever room I was in at the moment. A basket in our living room held the baby toys.

Tips

Once your baby is getting close to scooting, rolling or crawling, it's time to be a lot more intentional about the play environment. Here are a few tips for creating your baby's first Montessori shelf.

1. Make it safe. That means all the traditional child proofing in the room - outlet covers, etc.  Make sure the shelf is heavy enough not to fall over on a climbing toddler.  OR secure it to the wall.

2. Use the bottom two shelves. If your shelf is low already, that's great.  If you are using a taller shelf, designate the bottom two shelves for baby; use the rest of the shelves anything that could be useful to you!

3. Select a few toys. Choose toys you think your child would like manipulating or exploring.  These are your baby's first Montessori work choices!  As much as possible, choose toys made of natural materials that can be twisted, stacked, mouthed, and shaken.  Avoid the shiny, noisy plastic stuff with buttons and annoying songs.  I'm talkin' to you, Tickle Me Elmo.  Off the Montessori shelf!  Those toys can live in the closet and can be brought out occasionally.  You want to focus on toys that are nurturing to the brain and not overstimulating.

4. Space the toys out. When my first born was a baby, we chose this shelf specifically because it would provide designated spaces for toys.  When a toy needed to be put away, it was obvious where it should go.  I found that baskets were completely unnecessary with this type of shelf, and it forced me to choose only eight baby toys for displaying at one time.  However, for a more traditional shelf, I would recommend a basket for the go-together toys like blocks.  It pays to spend a bit of time spacing the toys in a way that looks appealing and uncluttered.  Your baby won't ever thank you for it, but when he's dragging everything off the shelf and making a big mess, you'll thank yourself for making the clean up easier!

5. Crawl in front of the shelf at your baby's head level.  What do you see from that angle?  Does it look inviting?  Colorful?  Is it easy to reach for?  Sometimes what we see is surprising to us, like the unpainted bottom of a shelf or a sharp edge.  Getting down low and looking at child level is how you'll know if you've done it right.

When a new mom is pregnant, she may worry about having enough "baby stuff", but the reality is most parents acquire an alarming number of toys and gadgets in just a few months.  All of this stuff can take up an enormous amount of space! Contrast the careful placement of accessible toys on a baby's Montessori shelf to a typical American baby's play area, where you might see an exersaucer, a jumperoo, a play yard, a crib, a swing, and many, many plastic, flashy, singing toys overflowing out of a toy chest.  If you feel that a crawling baby's environment doesn't really matter, consider Montessori's cautionary words from The Absorbent Mind:

"There are some insects which look like leaves, and others which look like stalks.  They pass their lives on leaves and stalks, which they resemble so perfectly as to seem completely one with them.  Something like this happens in the child.  He absorbs the life going on about him and becomes one with it, just as these insects become one with the vegetation on which they live.  The child's impressions are so profound that a biological or psychochemical change takes place, by which his mind ends by resembling the environment itself.  Children become like the things they love.  In every type of life it has been discovered that this power exists, of absorbing the environment and coming to resemble it."

- Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

Taking care to arrange your baby's first play environment is worth it.  Make it beautiful.  Make it accessible.  Fill it with things that you love and want to share with your child.  The environment that you create for your baby will stay within him for life.

sample1.jpg

Now that you have a shelf set up and ready to go (or the intention to create one), you might be wondering if there are some recommendations as to the best toys and books for a baby, young toddler, or older toddler. I've learned so much about how to select toys that work for different developmental stages of infants and toddlers since raising my own babies. Join me and my good friend Nicole in an online course to talk toys for ages and stages. Click here to learn more.