Babies are so cute when their happy smile shows off their first tooth, but getting there is painful for a lot of them. If you have one of those children for whom teething is no big deal, consider yourself lucky – not to mention well rested! But for the rest of us, teething’s dull but constant pain brings bouts of fussiness that make simple tasks a lot more difficult. It’s heartbreaking to watch your child suffer, but it’s all a part of growing up and growing healthy dental habits. Try these easy tips to ease the pain for you and your baby.
1. Use safe, approved teething rings.
The best source of relief you can offer your baby is a product that was meant to be chewed on. That means it’s free from harmful chemicals and won’t break into small pieces in your baby’s mouth. Some teething rings are also designed to be frozen, which can bring a bit of welcome numbness.
2. Don’t freeze things that aren’t intended to be frozen.
If your teether doesn’t say you can freeze it, then don’t. Freezing can change the properties of some materials – they might become brittle and splinter, or low temperatures could activate something harmful. Be sure to read the directions carefully and follow what they say.
3. Give your baby a nice gum rub.
It might seem counterintuitive, but light pressure can ease your baby’s discomfort. First, wash your hands thoroughly. Then gently rub her gums where the teeth are cutting through. This helps to overstimulate the nerves in that area and block the pain. It’s also a great way for baby to get used to having your fingers in her mouth, which will give you a head start when it’s time to clean those new teeth!
4. Offer a cool wash cloth to chew on.
Wet a clean wash cloth and pop it in the fridge for a few hours, then give it to your baby to chew on. The material is harmless, its texture invites chewing, and they’re cheap in case he gnaws a hole through it – those new teeth are sharp!
5. Watch out for choking hazards.
At this stage, anything your baby can pick up will likely end up in her mouth. Children can choke on anything that will fit through the hole in a paper towel roll (that’s bigger than you thought, huh?), so keep small objects well out of reach.
6. Avoid using medications.
If your baby is less than four months old, you shouldn’t use any medications unless they’ve been prescribed by your pediatrician. After six months, you might be able to give them ibuprofen, but again, consult your doctor. For the most part, teething pain is best handled naturally.
7. Wipe up that drool!
A baby’s mouth produces a surprising amount of saliva when teeth are coming in – expect him to drool like a faucet! Keep a soft cloth handy for regular wiping so his lips and chin don’t become chapped, but don’t wipe too hard or you’ll irritate his skin. It’s better to dab frequently.
And try to be patient. It’s the biggest cliché in the world, but these days will fly by faster than you will believe. Someday soon – at least it will seem soon – teething will be a distant memory, and you’ll be wondering where the time went.