It can be distressing to see your baby going through teething. If they're really struggling, they'll be fractious and seem uncomfortable, crying and chewing on things to soothe their sore gums.
"Most babies will show clear signs of discomfort when they're teething," says GP Dr Carol Cooper, author of Baby and Child – Your Questions Answered. "But not all will. Some are just a bit off-colour and don’t seem overly troubled." And this can vary, depending on which teeth are coming through where.
- They keep chewing things – this urge to chew comes from the pressure of the teeth pushing through
- They're dribbling copiously – the result of extra saliva being produced
- They have a red cheek – this is caused by irritation as teeth come through gums
- They have areas of gum that look red and irritated
Do these all sound familiar? Then there’s a pretty high chance that it’s teething. Once you’ve established that’s what baby’s going through, you can be assured it probably won’t last too long.
"For some babies, it might just be days, although for others, teething can go on for weeks," says Dr Carol.
How can I soothe my baby through the teething process?
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to help your baby if she’s experiencing symptoms. Here are some of the best tips:
1. Give a teething ring
A teething ring or other toy can be super-helpful, and there are lots out there at different price ranges.
“Ideally, get one you can put in the fridge so it’s cooling for your child's gums,” says Carol. “Having something to chew on along with the cold to soothe soreness can be very soothing.”
2. Massage gums with a teething gel
A teething gel can also be soothing for your baby’s gums. Try putting some on your clean finger and gently rubbing it on. You could let your baby chew on your finger while you do this.
Make sure you use a gel that's specifically designed for teething babies – and check the age suitability: many aren't suitable for babies under 6 months. Steer clear of toothache or gum-relieving gels for adults: they definitely aren’t suitable for babies or children.
3. Consider a painkiller
"A paracetamol suspension designed for babies can help ease pain if your baby seems in real distress with teething," says Carol.
Check the instructions to make sure you’re giving the right dose for the age / weight of your baby – and make sure you take a note of when they've had each dose, so you don’t give too much.
4. Try teething biscuits
Some parents swear by teething biscuits – either shop-bought or homemade. These are hard biscuits shaped for your baby’s mouth that are designed for a baby to bite down on.
You should wait until your baby is 6 months old to try these though – and you can make your own (there are lots of recipes online) that are sugar-free.
5. Try anything cold
No teether to hand? You can improvise by using something really cold – a small ice pack, wrapped in a tea towel, maybe, or even a cold teaspoon. Always supervise your baby if you trying this – to help avoid any choking incidents.
6. Use a flannel
A damp flannel fresh from the fridge can feel very soothing when those gums are feeling particularly raw.
Just make sure it’s not dripping too much, and then gently wipe it over the sore areas of your child's mouth.
7. Let them gnaw on raw veg
Hard vegetables, such as carrots, or fruit, such as apples, can be helpful. These have the benefit of being healthy, while being hard enough to help with teething discomfort and encouraging teeth to cut through. Do make sure you’re always nearby, though: you'll need to keep a close eye in case your baby breaks off a piece of veg or fruit into their mouth – this could be choking hazard if it's big enough to block their airway.
Can I use a teething necklace?
Jewellery made from Baltic amber or hazelwood beads has become a popular teething remedy in recent years but are best avoided. The advice from RoSPA (the Royal Society For The Prevention of Accidents) is that beads aren’t safe as they pose a risk of strangulation or choking.
So, much as you might have heard they work – they’re a no-go, so stick to the suggestions above instead.
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