How to Help Your Teething Baby
Like little white flower buds, 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.
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.
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 those flower buds one by one, and don't forget to take photos!