When your baby's first teeth come through, this can be an uncomfortable time for the baby. We at Babycchinos have put together this helpful "guide to a teething baby" to talk you through all you need to know and how to you can comfort your baby during this difficult time.
What exactly is teething?
Teething is when baby's first teeth start to grow. This is usually at around six months old, but this can start from 3 months right through to 1 years old. The lower front teeth usually are the first to grow followed but the others. All 20 primary teeth are usually all grown by the age of 3 years old with usually the first 12 teeth grown by baby's first birthday.
Some babies find it uncomfortable as the teeth push through the gums which can leave them feeling sore, uncomfortable and swollen. The gums can also feel slightly itchy. This may leave the baby to feeling irritable.
What are the symptoms of teething?
Symptoms of teething can vary from baby to baby. Some baby's give subtle signs they have begun teething, whilst others have quite sudden changes in behaviour.
Some of the signs your baby will tell you they are teething are:
- heavy drooling
- red and swollen gums
- restless sleep
- runny poo (caused by swallowing lots of saliva)
- fussiness when eating
- biting and chewing
- red rashes on the chin and lower lip caused by the heavy drooling
- mild raised temperature (less than 38C)
What can I do to soothe the symptoms of teething?
There are a number of remedies to soothe a teething baby. Some remedies may work better on some babies and not at all on others so its important to experiment and see what works for your little one.
Some remedies are:
1) Teething Rings: biting on these rings can help soothe the baby. Some teething rings can be chilled to add to the soothing effect. Always read the instructions before using. Its not advisable to put the teething rings in the freezer as this can harm baby's gums.
2) Cold Solid Foods: If your baby is on solids, you can give them a chilled carrot or apple to bite on or some yogurt will soothe the gums. However, be careful not to give them anything they can choke on and be in the room in case the baby does choke.
The NHS advises not to give your baby rusks as these contain sugar which can cause tooth decay (source: NHS).
3) Playtime & cuddles: Some good old fashion playtime with your baby can help distract them from the grumpiness of teething and give them some relief and you can also make some precious memories.
4) Teething Gels: These claim to soothe the baby's gums once applied to the gums. But keep in mind that as baby is drooling heavily, the gel may not stay in place. Always make sure you follow the instructions.
5) Paracetamol and ibuprofen: If baby has a mild raised temperature (less than 38C), the NHS advises you can give the baby sugar-free painkilling medicine (source: NHS) - always read the instructions first.
However, before giving this to the baby, check that this slight temperature is not caused by something else (for example, if the baby is wearing too many layers).
Your baby will go through episodes of good days and bad days, so keep in mind to moderate the medicine so very bad episodes only.
If the baby has a high temperature, see a GP as soon as possible.
6) Petroleum Jelly: is very useful to put on baby's chin and lower lip to soothe sore skin caused by heavy drooling.
7) Cotton cloth/bib: Use a cotton bib or muslin to mop up baby's drools to help avoid discomfort.
Picture Source: Capitalwired.com
How can I soothe baby at night?
Some baby's find it hard to sleep at night as the discomfort keeps them up. However it is important to try and keep baby on their sleep schedules as much as possible. You may be tempted to comfort the baby during the night, but its important to moderate these as you don't want baby to get too used to you being there all the time. Once the teething period is over, they may have gotten used to you always being there and may have difficulties falling back into their usually routines.
Use your instincts to determine whether the baby is having a particularly bad episode and needs extra comforting and a cuddle, or if they need subtle soothing by a way of stroking their head.
This will avoid baby developing clinging tendencies and hopefully once the teething phase passes, you can both get back to the usual sleeping routines as soon as possible.
How to care for baby's teeth?
Brush your baby's teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth has come through. This will feel strange to baby at first, but if they see you brush as well this will encourage them. It's also fun to make it game so they look forward to it!
Be sure to also register your baby at the dentist in order to have regular check ups.
Can it be something else?
Ear infections and tummy bugs can sometimes have the same symptoms as teething symptoms so its important to look for sure signs your baby is not suffering from something else.
To give some examples:
With ear infections, your baby could suffer from a temperature and this can be mistaken for teething.
If your little one has diarrhoea, this could also be caused by a tummy bug rather than teething.
If you are not sure what your baby is suffering from, see a GP as soon as possible.
Even though teething can be a uncomfortable time for baby, rest assured the first few teeth are usually the worst, and it normally gets better as more teeth grow. Sure enough this bumpy period will pass.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share for parents of teething tots? Share them below, we'd love to hear them :-)