By Laraine Clark, RN, IBCLC
For some babies teething symptoms may only last for a few days at a time, whereas with others, it can seem to drag on for several months. Your baby may react differently if there is one tooth coming through vs. more than one.
Normally, babies begin to teethe between 4 and 7 months old. However, some may start much later than this. If you are concerned about any delay in seeing baby teeth, talk it over with your child’s health care provider.
Teething stimulates drooling. If you start to notice an increase in drooling, look inside your baby’s mouth. You'll probably be surprised at how much drool your baby can produce. This is completely normal.
2. Increase in Crying
As your baby’s teeth are emerging, the gum tissue can become inflamed and irritated. This can make your baby uncomfortable.
3. Waking Up
If your baby’s gums hurt, he or she might wake up more frequently during the night than what you are used to. Patience and your soothing comfort is what baby needs to get through the most difficult nights.
4. Face Rubbing and Ear Pulling
Your baby may begin pulling on his or her ears, or rubbing the face or chin. Gums, cheeks, and ears share some of the same nerve pathways. For example, Baby may perceive the pain in his mouth as being caused by the ear.
5. Refusal to Eat
When Baby’s gums hurt, sometimes they don’t feel like eating. Continue to offer food as normal, as this will typically resolve on its own.
Counter-pressure on the gums is a great way to soothe teething pain. Babies will often want to bite something, and sometimes it’s Mom’s nipple. This is normal and can be handled.
HOW TO HELP
1. LOTS of patience is essential. Your baby needs your soothing comfort to get through the toughest days and nights. Singing, rocking, playing with, and cuddling him or her offers a great deal of security. This period will pass, and your baby will feel happy again.
2. If your baby is drooling, use a bib to keep his clothing dry and comfortable. Gently wiping the wet chin can help to prevent skin irritation and chafing.
3. Chewing on something cold can help soothe your baby’s gums. Cold-safe teething toys are wonderful choices, but avoid direct mouth contact with frozen items. For example, chewing on a cold, slightly damp washcloth can be just the remedy needed to relieve achy gums. Discuss these options with your baby’s health care provider.
4. Specially designed toys such and bumpy teething rings can provide counter-pressure for sore baby gums.
5. If you have any question about using pain relievers such as acetaminophen, talk to your baby’s health care provider.
6. Speak to your baby’s health care provider if you are concerned about any unusual fussiness regarding feeding.
7. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against topical numbing agents. These can put children under age 2 at risk for reduced oxygen levels in the blood. The FDA also cautions against homeopathic or herbal teething remedies, as there are some out there that may contain an ingredient that can cause heart problems and drowsiness. NEVER apply rubbing alcohol on your baby’s gums.
Teething can be a trying time for both babies and parents. Some children may go through the entire process with minimal challenges, while others seem to have a difficult time. There are ways in which we can assist in easing the discomfort, but often what Baby really needs the most is lots of patience accompanied by hugs and kisses from Mom and Dad.