Teething can be a difficult stage for both parents and children, but there are some ways you can help relieve your child’s pain. We’ll cover some of the basics of teething, the unforgettable stage during which your child’s baby teeth erupt through their gums.
Typically your child’s teeth start to erupt between four to seven months of age, though some children will start teething earlier (as early as three months) and others later (at twelve to fourteen months). Every child is unique in this, so don’t worry if he or she deviates from the four to seven-month timeline. Front teeth are usually the first to appear, followed by incisors and molars. Teeth usually come in pairs.
First, try to recognize the signs of teething. Your child’s gums will become more swollen before teeth erupt. You may notice changes in your child’s behaviour, such as increased irritability, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping.
During teething, children drool more than usual. If you notice drool around his or her mouth, wipe it off with a cloth. Excessive saliva can dry the skin around your child’s mouth. You may want to use moisturizer or cream to soothe chapped skin.
Some signs of teething include sucking on fingers and pulling on ears, which children do to distract themselves from the pain. Your child may also bite and chew on toys to relieve the pain in his or her gums.
Teething has also been associated with a slight fever, but you should contact your doctor if this fever is at or over 38 degrees (Celcius). A fever above 38 degrees is not normal for teething and might be a sign of illness or infection.
How to Soothe Pain from Teething
It’s hard to watch your little one in pain. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make the process of teething easier for your child.
Give your child chilled or hard food to chew on. Cool a fruit in the fridge, then give it to your child to chew on. Pampers recommends putting fruits in mesh to prevent a choking hazard. You can also use harder fruits or vegetables like raw carrots or apple slices, or tougher foods like crust or breadsticks. If you give your child something to chew on, you should always be watching to make sure he or she does not choke on pieces that break off.
Use teething rings. Teething rings are safe because there is no material to break off. You can put teething rings in the fridge to cool, as the low temperature will give extra relief to painful gums. That being said, don’t put teething rings in the freezer, because frozen objects can harm your baby’s gums. Also, don’t tie the teething rings to a necklace, because this could become a choking hazard.
Use teething gels. Teething gels are not proven to be effective, but they are on the market. Make sure you are only using anesthetic gels that are child-safe. Be aware of homeopathic remedies, because some of these have harmful side effects. If your child is struggling through teething, ask your doctor which products are safe to use.
Give your child approved painkillers. Some painkillers are safe for children, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Ask your doctor about approved brands and strengths for painkillers. Do not use painkillers that contain benzocaine or lidocaine, as these are extremely dangerous for infants, and may even cause death.
Cool a damp washcloth. Soak a clean washcloth in the sink and ring out the water until the fabric is damp. Put the washcloth in the fridge to cool, then fold it up smaller and give it to your child to chew on. Always watch to make sure that your baby does not choke.
Massage your baby’s gums. First, make sure that your hands are clean. Then, you can run your finger along your baby’s gums to help soothe the pain.
Use a cold spoon. Put a small, metal spoon in the fridge to cool. Rub this along your baby’s gums.
Chill a favorite toy. Put your child’s favorite toy in the fridge to cool. Of course, make sure that it is safe for chewing and not filled with any liquids or gels. Your child may enjoy chewing on something familiar, and its cold temperature will soothe painful gums.
Play or cuddle with your child. Sometimes distraction can go a long way. And, since you’re both probably exhausted from this difficult phase, the comfort that comes from cuddling never hurts.