Helping your baby get through teething

January 15, 2015

Every baby's teething timeline is a little different. The moment your baby's teeth start growing depends on many factors, including genetics. Because symptoms can vary, it's sometimes difficult to know if your baby's crankiness is due to teething. These guidelines provide information on teething and tips that will help you soothe your baby.

Helping your baby get through teething

Teething symptoms

Every baby experiences the discomfort of teething a little differently, but there are a few general signs that your baby's teeth are about to poke through:

  • Babies' gums usually become irritated when they're teething. The gums may appear puffy, red or bruised, and many babies have a need to gnaw on something. Chewing on a teething toy provides counter pressure that relieves the pressure of a tooth pushing through the gum.
  • Excessive drooling is also a symptom of teething. Infants do drool even when they're not teething, but if your baby soaks though several bibs per day and has other symptoms of teething, the increased drooling is likely due to teething.
  • The discomfort caused by the tooth pushing through the gum and bone manifests itself in different ways. Your baby may be cranky, tearful and generally fussy, especially at night. He or she may also pull at an ear because the pain from the jaw transfers to the ear canal. You may also notice a change in eating habits.

How to soothe your baby

There are many effective and safe methods for easing teething pain. Try some of these methods and see which ones work best for your baby:

  • Give your baby a wet or frozen washcloth to chew on. The coolness reduces swelling and relieves pain.
  • Teething toys that have been chilled in the refrigerator also satisfy the urge to gnaw and reduce swelling. Don't give your baby frozen toys, though, because that may irritate their gums.
  • If your baby's gums aren't too swollen or bruised, try massaging the gums with your fingers.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and topical oral anaesthetics, are also beneficial. Make sure to follow the recommended dosing instructions.

You will probably get lots of advice about tried-and-true methods that have worked for other people. The following methods are not safe for babies, so don't try them, no matter how much somebody swears by them.

  • Chewing on frozen carrots or bananas. As they defrost, pieces will break off and create a choking hazard.
  • Rubbing brandy or any kind of liquor on baby's gums does not relieve pain and can be poisonous to your baby.

Teething is tough on your baby, but with a little patience and some helpful remedies, you and your baby will be smiling in no time.

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