The Ultimate Teething Survival Guide
A baby’s (and new parent’s) life is full of firsts: first smile, first steps, first word, and of course, first tooth! As Denver pediatric dentists, we know how exciting all of these little milestones are. We also know there’s a lot to learn about keeping your little one happy as they go through a million changes — especially the more uncomfortable experiences like teething.
While it’s exciting to see your baby’s first tiny tooth appear, teething can be a challenging time for both parents and child. Your little one is going to experience some discomfort as his or her smile begins to take shape, so you might be in for a few sleepless nights (and a whole lot of drool!). The doctors at Kids Mile High are here to support you and your baby throughout the teething process. Read on for everything you need to know about what to expect, what not to do, and how to keep your baby as comfortable as possible.
What to Expect When Your Baby is Teething
There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when your baby will get her first tooth. For some babies, the first tooth erupts as early as three months, while others remain toothless until after their first birthday. But for most infants, teething symptoms will start before the appearance of any pearly whites. That’s because your baby’s teeth are already beginning to form beneath the surface.
Most babies will experience some level of discomfort during the teething process, but some lucky kiddos (and parents!) will have little to no symptoms. If you’re not sure whether your baby has started teething, here are a few telltale signs:
- Excess drooling
- Irritability and fussiness
- Gumming and biting objects
- Refusing to eat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Ear pulling and cheek rubbing
Safe Remedies for a Teething Baby
Naturally, a teething baby is going to experience swollen, tender and painful gums. When it comes to soothing your baby during this time, there are plenty of safe, at-home teething remedies you can try. Here are some ways to alleviate teething pain for your child:
- Chewing: As your baby has probably already been showing you, chewing can help to relieve pain from teething. Chewing, or gumming, applies counter-pressure to developing teeth as they work their way to the surface. Give your baby teething rings or plush teething toys made from safe materials, free from BPA, phthalate, latex and PVC. Cold objects are even more effective against teething pain, so put teething toys in the fridge to give your baby the cool comfort he needs.
- Gum Massage: This is simple yet effective way to give your baby relief from teething pain. Similar to chewing, massaging your baby’s gums will provide counter-pressure to aching teeth.
- Cold Food/Drinks: As we mentioned, cold objects are soothing to teething babies. If your baby has been introduced to solid foods, start giving her cold items like yogurt, applesauce or fruit blended with ice. You could also refrigerate breastmilk to give to your little one in a bottle. Another option is to let your baby chew on a cold washcloth that’s been soaked in water or breastmilk.
- Distractions: You’d be surprised how effective distractions can be for a teething baby. If your kiddo is extra cranky, find ways to take his mind off his teething pain. Go for a walk, read a story and have extra playtime. Focusing on other things will help your little one feel better.
- Wipe Up Drool: Yep, there’s going to be plenty of drool while your baby is teething. This is totally normal, but it can also cause irritation to your baby. The constant flow can cause a rash or redness to the area around your child’s mouth, so be sure to wipe droll away frequently using a clean cloth.
- Pain Relievers: When all else fails, talk to your pediatrician about using a baby-safe pain reliever. This might be the best option for babies (and parents) who aren’t getting any sleep due to teething pain.
Avoid These Teething Remedies
While it’s invaluable to know how to relieve your child’s teething pain, it’s just as important to understand what not to do. Certain teething remedies can actually be dangerous for your child. Before you try any teething remedy, make sure you’re avoiding any of the following:
- Liquid Teething Rings: These are a popular choice as a teething toy for babies, but the liquid inside can pose a health risk. There’s no way to know for sure what it contains and if your baby chews through the plastic, there’s a chance she will ingest the substance. Solid teething rings are a safe, effective alternative.
- Teething Necklaces/Bracelets: There’s been a lot of hype around teething jewelry to alleviate teething pain, but experts are warning of the dangers of teething necklaces and bracelets. Amber teething jewelry poses a choking hazard, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported a case of a baby who suffered lead poisoning from a homeopathic bracelet. It’s best to avoid these teething devices altogether.
- Products Containing Benzocaine: No parent wants to see their baby suffering, so it can be tempting to reach for over-the-counter products like teething gels to help them feel better. But the FDA has determined that these products contain benzocaine, which can cause potentially fatal harm to your baby. Benzocaine is associated with methemoglobinemia, a disorder that reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
- Homeopathic Remedies: We’d all love to find a safe, all-natural solution for teething babies, but the simple fact is that homeopathic remedies are not evaluated by the FDA.
As a parent, you want the best for your little one — and so do we. If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s teeth as they develop, give your Englewood, Stapleton and Thornton pediatric dentist a call. We’re here to help.