Eight Tips on Teething

Unhappy girl

It’s almost comical how many things get blamed on teething. And even more comical how you start doing it yourself when that first bit of white appears in your baby’s gum line. Every child shows some signs of teething, but some babies react to the sensation of movie teeth strongly while others seem to take it in stride. For the parents of the “bad teethers,” there is never enough advice of consolation, and a few tips on teething never hurt, either.

Teething Really Does Seem To Cause All Those Things

If you’ve read the more popular parenting books of the day, you’ll hear that fevers, diarrhea, rashes, and more aren’t truly symptoms of teething. If you then ask 100 mothers who have babies with teeth, they will certainly tell you that their child had a low fever for days, had terrific diaper rash caused by ongoing diarrhea which mysteriously seems to coincide with the eruption of every new tooth. Coincidence? You’ll have your own chance to decide when your baby starts his round of symptoms.

Broken Sleep is Often the First Sign of Teething

When you’re active in the day, you often don’t notice low levels of persistent discomfort. But at night, when the rest of your body is at rest, you might notice a throbbing in your ankle or a stiffness in your shoulder. For your baby, this is true as well. He might not really tune into his discomfort during the day, but at night he might feel the tooth moving in the gums and have a hard time rolling over and going back to sleep. When this happens, he’ll need you help and those full nights of sleep you’ve only been recently enjoying will end. Unfortunately, broken nights of sleep can start up to a month before the tooth actually erupts if your child is sensitive to the pain or a light sleeper.

It Is Normal to Teethe Indefinitely

Among the more amusing ironies of parenthood is the anxiousness with which we wait for that first tooth. We check for it constantly and suffer through the teething process diligently until it finally erupts. We then take pictures and make a note of the tooth in the baby book. We are so excited to get back to normal with a new, toothy grin only to realize that the first tooth is followed by 15 others in the space of about 12 months.

This means that teething will be an almost permanent fixture in your home until close to eighteen months when you’ll gain a small reprieve before the two-year molars come in. Consider it your new normal and hope that you’ll be lucky enough to have a child who reacts only mildly to new teeth. If yours does teethe for a full month with each tooth, rest assured that you’re not alone, either.

Drooling Doesn’t Always Mean Teething

Your baby will likely start to drool around three or four months. This gets many parents excited about that first tooth only to still be waiting three months later. Drooling starts up pretty early as your baby starts to produce more saliva without knowing how to swallow it down. Therefore it just drools out. You’ll likely notice an increase in drooling before a tooth comes through – teething drool is enough to soak through the front of a shirt in less than thirty minutes.

Try Every Teething Medicine

Be sure you have your doctor’s blessing and then start trying all of the different teething medicines. Most work in the same way by eliminating sensation in the gums, but it can be found in tablets, gels and liquids. Some you apply with your finger, some you poke under a little tongue and others you use on a prepared swab. Before you know which medicine helps your baby the most, you have to try each. Always read the instructions and follow them as your baby is tiny and relies on your good judgment. Don’t combine medicines unless your doctor says it’s okay and stick with the one that works the best.

Use Teething Medicine before Meals

Your child might have a hard time nursing, sucking on a bottle or chewing while teeth are causing his gums to be in pain. The sucking or chewing can make the pain more uncomfortable and you might see this on your child’s face as she tries to eat normally. To make it more comfortable for her, especially with any night feedings where the discomfort will be more noticeable, apply teething medicine first to soften the sensations and then feed. This will help her to get more food in her tummy and rest more comfortably.

Be Creative to Find Solutions

Teething babies like to chew on cold items. Frozen washcloths are good choices as are cold teething rings. (Be sure to discard these after a tooth has broken the surface however, as you don’t want to risk puncturing the ring.) But there are many other cold things your baby can chew on and she might find that she likes frozen waffles or pancakes even more than a washcloth to suck on. While distasteful to most adults, the frozen, fully cooked waffle is the same nutritionally cold or hot, so it’s actually a good snack as well if you purchase the whole wheat variety.

Don’t Fight It

Your child will have some nasty signs of teething whether you fight them or not. You can’t do much sleep training while your child is suffering with swollen gums and diaper rash. You won’t be sleeping well if she’s not. If she’s feeling miserable, she’s going to tell you about it. Rather than getting upset about the disturbance in your once peaceful life, just roll with the punches until the process is complete. You can still enjoy your baby while she’s cutting teeth and a few hours of missing sleep are nothing in the scheme of things. Bring along an extra shirt or put on a bib to deal with the drool and go to bed earlier to make it through each session of teething. Like everything else in the first years of life, this will someday be something you look back on with delight.

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