Tips for Soothing a Teething Baby
The discomfort associated with teething can be stressful for babies and their parents. It is also a top cause of night waking for babies during this time. Being prepared with some strategies to ease this discomfort can help parents cope with this stage of development.
Teething usually begins around 6 months of age, but could start as late as 12 to 24 months of age. The first teeth to appear are typically the two bottom front teeth (lower incisors) followed by the middle top teeth (upper incisors). All 20 baby teeth should come in by the time the child is about 2 and a half years old. Babies’ reactions to teething vary from child to child and even from tooth to tooth, so knowing what to look for can help to distinguish teething from other issues that may be causing fussiness or night time waking.
Signs that your baby may be teething are irritability, accompanied by a lot of biting or chewing on hard objects, and drooling. Other signs include gum swelling and tenderness, refusing food, and, of course, disrupted sleep. A slight increase in temperature may be associated with teething, but a true fever (body temperature 100.4 degrees or higher) is likely due to an illness or virus, not teething.
Here are some things we recommend to help parents ease the discomfort and potential pain of teething for their little ones:
Give your baby something comforting (and safe) to chew on. This could be a firm rubber teething ring, but avoid liquid filled teething rings or plastic toys that could break.
Gently rub the gums with a cool wet washcloth. The washcloth can be placed in the freezer before use, but be sure to wash it before reusing.
If a bottle is used for soothing it should be filled with water (not formula, milk or juice which could lead to tooth decay).
Topical pain relievers or medications rubbed on the gum are generally ineffective as they wash away within a few minutes.
We are always happy to answer questions you may have about your baby’s teeth as they come in. And be sure to schedule your child’s first dental appointment by age one to learn the best ways to keep their teeth healthy.