Out of nowhere, your five month-old baby is fussy, irritated, chewing on everything (maybe your nipple or her bottle nipple), drooling a lot, has a slightly elevated body temperature and not sleeping well. Sound familiar? She’s probably teething! (Side note here: lots of babies start drooling around three months old, this doesn’t necessarily mean she’s teething… yet.)
Usually the first teeth to erupt around six to eight months are the lower, central incisors (the two front teeth on the bottom jaw.) Once this process starts, teething (and the related signs and symptoms in your baby) carry on until about 2 years old, when the eruption of new teeth slows down.
So how are tired, frustrated parents to cope? Since this is going to be your new normal for awhile, having a multi-pronged approach is going to be your best strategy. Below we share some tips on how to help ease the teething pain and some commonly shared ideas to avoid.
Infant Teething Soothing Ideas
First, make sure your baby’s needs are well met during the day. Fill her up with lots of cuddles, holding, and feeding. Ensure she’s napping well. All of these daytime activities can help improve nighttime sleep.
Next, try soothing her little gums. The American Dental Association recommends rubbing her gums with a clean finger or a clean teether. Look for teethers made from a solid material that can’t break apart or splinter. We really like these teething tubes as one idea.
Another effective option to help your baby is a rubber teething ring. This one is all one piece, without any joints or seams and is solid throughout. Plus it is 100% pure natural rubber, if that appeals to you.
For babies who might like a little playtime with their teething relief, this fun teether is wooden and silicone with lots of different textures.
You might even try chilling (not freezing) a cold spoon or teether for extra relief.
You can also discuss the option of trying an over-the-counter pain medicine with your pediatrician, like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol.)
Avoid: The Food and Drug Administration does not recommend applying anything topical with benzocaine (like Orajel) until children are at least two years old because of the risk of a serious blood disorder. Additionally, they don’t recommend using any homeopathic remedies because of the inconsistencies in amounts of potentially harmful ingredients.
What about placing jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, etc.) on your baby designed to help with reducing teething symptoms, like amber? The truth is that there isn’t any credible evidence that they relieve symptoms, just anecdotal stories.
Caring for Your Baby’s Gums and New Teeth
One of our favorite local pediatric dentist, Dr. Maggie Davis, DMD, wants to see every baby when their first tooth erupts. This visit is free at her office! They’ll be sure to share good oral care for your baby. In the meantime, run a soft, clean cloth over your baby’s gums twice a day. Once that first tooth breaks through, you can brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and infant toothpaste two times a day.
As your infant becomes a toddler, you can explore new options for teething relief. Of course, exercise individual caution for choking risks based on your toddler’s age and developmental stage.
Toddler Teething Relief
- Cold foods, like chilled watermelon or other fruit, smoothies
- Drinking ice water
- Cool, wet washcloth for chewing (not frozen)
As your baby ages, she’ll get better and better at managing the teething process on her own, and before you know it, you’ll be playing the Tooth Fairy!
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