A teething baby is an inevitable part of the development of your little one – it’s one of those milestones that most parents have a love-hate relationship with. On the one hand, it’s exciting seeing your baby grow and develop, but on the other, it’s hard to see your little one struggle through the pain of getting their first teeth.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to soothe your baby's teething pain and get them back into a peaceful slumber.
What is teething and when does it start?
Teething is when your baby’s teeth start breaking through their gums. By 6 months old your baby will usually start developing their first teeth, although it varies from baby to baby. Some babies start teething one tooth at a time, while others will have teeth that breakthrough in pairs or sets.
It is recommended that once your baby’s teeth start breaking through, you should start brushing them with fluoride toothpaste and register them with a dentist so they can maintain proper oral hygiene.
The signs and symptoms of teething vary from every child – some babies remain fairly calm whilst getting their teeth through whilst others can’t bare the pain. There are some common signs though that may indicate if your little one is teething, including:
One of the most common signs your baby is teething is a noticeable change in their mood. Even the happiest baby may suddenly become irritable. Your little one may cry more frequently or become easily agitated. Typically, this irritability will be heightened in the week or so before their tooth cuts through. The good news is that this should improve as they get more teeth however you may notice it again when they get their first molars as a toddler.
Another tell-tale sign that the teething process is kicking in is excessive dribbling. Some babies dribble so much from teething that they soak their clothes. You may even notice a rash start to develop on their cheeks from the excess moisture.
To prevent this and keep your baby comfortable, use a clean cloth or bib to gently wipe away excess moisture from your baby's mouth and ensure you change their clothes if they get too wet.
Red and swollen gums
If you notice your baby's gums are red and swollen instead of pink, this is a symptom of a teething baby.
Loss of appetite
Teething is incredibly uncomfortable for babies so it may impact their eating schedule. As their gums are sore, you may notice your baby turn away food or drink as it may irritate their sensitive gums.
Chewing more than usual
If you notice your baby gnawing away at their toys, their fists, or bottles it’s likely their teeth are breaking through. The pressure the pain creates from an erupting tooth can be alleviated by applying counter pressure which is why your baby will look for things to bite down on.
If your baby is usually a good sleeper, but they have begun waking up at night and are becoming increasingly cranky, it may be a sign that they are teething.
The good news is that there are plenty of home remedies and products you can try to relieve the symptoms of teething and soothe sore gums. These include:
Teething rings and toys
Teething rings and toys give your baby something to play with and chew safely. The pressure they apply on their gums from chewing helps to alleviate any pain and discomfort, and may even distract your baby away from the pain.
Some teething rings are filled with a cooling gel, meaning you can pop them in the fridge to help soothe your baby's sore and swollen gums.
Cold cloths can help to alleviate pain in teething babies. The cooling sensation helps to soothe hot swollen gums and all you need is a clean washcloth and a freezer to get started.
To prep, your cold cloth, take a clean washcloth, soak it in water and place it in the freezer for up to an hour. Along with instantly cooling your baby’s sore gums, your little one can also chew and rub them on their gums as long as they like!
Teething gels for your baby's gums
Teething gels used to be the number 1 for many parents looking to help soothe their baby's sore gums however there is a lack of evidence that teething gels are effective. There's also no evidence that homeopathic teething gels are effective either. The NHS recommends that parents try non-medical options for teething first such as teething toys or a teething ring before looking to test gels and powders.
If you have tried everything and decide a gel is a good option, you should opt for one that has been specially designed for young children as general oral pain relief gels aren't suitable for babies. If you are unsure we recommend speaking to your pharmacist, who can provide medical advice.
Amber teething necklaces have become popular in recent years as a remedy for easing teething symptoms, but the scientific claims of these products have not been backed up.
Amber contains Succinic acid, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties which help to soothe your baby's mouth during teething. It's claimed that when the beads are worn next to the skin, succinic acid is released into the body, providing relief from the pain and tenderness of teething.
Teething necklaces can present a choking and strangulation hazard, so if you're opting for this method never tie it around your baby's neck unsupervised or allow them to be worn while your child is sleeping.
Signs it's more than teething
It's normal for your child to cry more than usual when they're getting a new tooth, especially as they'll be experiencing new pain around their gums, but if your child is inconsolable new teeth may not be to blame.
Although it may feel like the symptoms associated with teething last forever, they should only last for a week or two at a time. If your child is still experiencing various symptoms of teething as well as a fever, diarrhoea, runny nose or crying a lot more than usual, you should take them to the doctor to rule out anything else.
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