It can be distressing to see your baby going through teething. If she’s really struggling, she’ll be fractious and seem uncomfortable, keep crying and chew on things to soothe herself.
And while not all babies will suffer with teething – lots will. As GP Dr Carol Cooper, author of Baby and Child – Your Questions Answered tells us: "Some [babies] are just a bit off-colour and don’t seem troubled by it, so don’t be surprised if your baby seems to breeze through. Most babies, though, will show clear signs of discomfort."
- She keeps chewing things – this urge to chew comes from the pressure of the teeth pushing through
- She’s dribbling copiously – the result of extra saliva being produced
- She has a red cheek – this is caused by irritation as teeth come through gums
- She has areas of the 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 Carol. And while the teeth can take a couple of years to come through, teething symptoms tend to come and go throughout this period.
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 her 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 her gums,” says Carol.
“Having something to chew on along with the cold to soothe soreness can be very soothing.”
On the MadeForMums forum, LH86 says, ‘I found the teethers you put in the fridge helpful.”
2. Massage her gums with a teething gel
If teething rings haven’t helped, a teething gel can 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 specifically designed for teething babies over 6 months, too: any toothache or gum-relieving gels for adults that you might already have in the cupboard aren’t suitable for little ones.
3. Consider a painkiller
‘A paracetamol suspension designed for babies can help ease pain if your baby’s in 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 she’s had the medicine last so you don’t give too much.
4. Try teething biscuits
Some mums swear by teething biscuits – either shop-bought or homemade. These are hard biscuits shaped for your baby’s mouth, designed for her to bite down on to encourage teeth to cut through gums.
“During weaning, me and my boy were big fans of the flavoured biscuits, great for an unhappy teething baby,” says Niki514 on our forum.
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 frozen – like veg she can chew on, or even a cold teaspoon. Always supervise this.
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 gently wipe it over the sore areas of her mouth.
7. Let her eat 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 in case of choking, though.
Can I use a teething necklace?
Jewellery made from Baltic amber or hazel wood beads is popular with mums. “I've been using a hazel wood necklace for my little girl during her first 2 years because she cried a lot during her teething process,” says Kate2011 on our forum.
But 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.