Teething is tough — it’s uncomfortable for the baby and one reason behind many sleepless nights for parents. The key to keeping your child happy and as comfortable as can be (and your nights more restful) is soothing.
Get to know the signs of teething
Children have no trouble letting you know when they’re uncomfortable. They’ll become fussy and irritable, and even their favorite things won’t keep a smile on their face for long. Oh, and you’ll see a little tooth in there, too. But there are many signs that are less obvious that your baby will show when they’re teething. When you see one of these, you’ll know it’s time for targeted solutions:
- Drooling. Like, a lot of drooling. More than usual.
- Biting and chewing on everything.
- Swollen, red gums.
- Pulling their ears and rubbing their face.
- Decreased appetite or outright refusal to eat.
- A slight fever (lower than 101˚).
It’s also important to know when signs are not pointing to teething and it’s time to visit a pediatrician. Check-in with your pediatrician if:
- Teething symptoms last longer than a few weeks at a time.
- Your child’s fever is higher than 101 degrees fahrenheit.
- They’ve got an excessively runny nose.
- Any digestion problems arise (diarrhea).
- They are totally inconsolable.
Okay, now that you know what to look for, let’s look at four ways we make it better for our little ones:
Give ‘em something to gnaw on
Our kids’ desire to chew on everything in sight is instinctual; downward pressure on the gums relieves some of the upward pressure caused by their growing teeth. There are plenty of great products out there — teething rings, toys, blankets, and others — but there are lots of goodies in your house that are gnaw-ready! Spoons (make sure they don’t have sharp edges!) make great teethers…and, if we’re being honest, your phone has probably already seen some time in the service of soothing gums.
Lower the temperature
Inflamed, red gums are hot gums, and bringing the temperature down offers major relief to a troubled tot. Any of the teething toys and other gnawables we mentioned above work wonders when they’ve been chilled. If your baby gets relief from something like a metal spoon, make sure it isn’t too cold, and definitely don’t put it in the freezer.
Speaking of the freezer, giving your baby frozen foods is a great way to soothe while keeping them fed! Apple slices, melon, banana, mango, purees, and bite-sized bits of bagel are just some of the foods that parents we spoke to recommend. Try freezing your baby’s favorite treat!
Keep it clean
We mentioned that your baby will be drooling when they’re teething, and we’re not kidding. There’s going to be a lot of drool. Wipe your baby’s mouth, chin, and cheeks clean often to help prevent skin irritation. While you’re at it, you can use a cool washcloth to rub baby’s gums — the combination of the cool, textured cloth and the pressure on their gums will keep them happy while you’re making sure their gums stay clean.
Medicate when necessary
We get it. Sometimes you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. We are big fans of over-the-counter pain relievers, and you should absolutely use them if your baby’s discomfort demands it. Make sure you consult a pediatrician before administering any medications, just to be safe.
There’s no way to completely avoid the discomfort that comes with teething — and if we can think of a way to grow a full set of teeth in a little mouth overnight, you’ll be the first to know — but these tips will go a long way toward making the experience more bearable for you and your baby. Good luck!