Just when you thought you were ready to get a good night’s sleep, it strikes: Teething! Teething, while uncomfortable, is an important milestone and a big part of growing up. Your kiddo’s new set of chompers means learning a whole set of new skills like how to brush and care for their teeth and sometimes even the tooth fairy. But before all of that can happen, babies and their parents have to make it through the discomfort of gaining a set of pearly whites.
What is Teething?
Starting as early as 3 months of age, your child’s teeth will begin to push through their gum line. If you’ve ever had a toothache, or even something stuck between your teeth, then you can appreciate just how uncomfortable teething can be. As adults, we don’t really remember getting our first set of teeth, but children cut teeth until around their third birthday. Fast forward 3 years and it’s time to do it all over again for their adult teeth.
The point is, remember that growing up is hard and that your children are doing a lot of it.
Signs of Teething
If you notice the following signs, your baby is likely beginning to teethe.
- Crankiness - Crankiness and fussiness are common signs of pain in babies (or in anyone, really).
- Excessive Drooling - Babies drool a lot, but much of that has to do with teething. Soft bibs can go a long way when it comes to saving clothing. You can make an effort to wipe the drool away, but be mindful of how often you’re doing it to avoid chafing on your chin or around their lips.
- Swollen Gums - Inflammation is a common sign that your child may start teething soon.
- Less Appetite - If you notice a sudden change in appetite accompanied by these other symptoms, don’t worry. If chewing becomes uncomfortable, your baby may not feel like eating quite as much.
- Mouthiness - Biting or chewing on objects (or even mom and dad) is a telltale sign of teething.
- Ear Pulling - If you notice your baby pulling on their ears, it may point to teething as the sensation can cause a little bit of relief.
Try a Feeder Filled With Chilled Fruit
If your child has begun eating solid food, then chilled or frozen fruit can be a wonderful way to give them a little bit of a treat all while soothing those sore, irritated gums. If your baby is still figuring out solids, we recommend trying a mesh or silicone feeder.
A feeder is a lot like a pacifier, but it can be filled with a variety of solid or pureed foods. Many parents use feeders to help their children learn the “motor skills” of chewing because even though it seems effortless to an adult, chewing is a motion and a skill babies have to work at.
Some feeders are made of mesh, which is a small fine-mesh sack attached to a larger plastic base that your baby can hold on to. The fine mesh allows your baby to experience the sensation of chewing while preventing potential choking hazards. There are also soft silicone feeders available that are great for frozen purees.
Cool washcloths are another great tool for relieving teething pain. If your baby isn’t quite ready for solids or you don’t have a feeder on hand, try wetting a washcloth and wringing it out. Toss a couple of soft baby washcloths into the freezer and you have a soothing, safe, and hydrating way to help your little one while they’re cutting teeth.
Teething toys seem like an obvious choice for this particular issue. However, it’s important to select the right kind of toy to keep your baby safe. When selecting a teething toy, make sure you choose a solid, non-gel teething toy. While gel toys might be tempting, it’s not uncommon for them to eventually get chewed through and the last thing you want is for your baby to get a mouth full of bitter chemicals. Yuck! Instead, pick a solid toy that you can keep in the freezer and take care to keep it clean after every use. Hot soapy water or a trip through the dishwasher should do the trick.
Infant gum massage isn’t new. However, in recent years there have been many products released that help with this technique. From silicone fingertips for manual massage to soft gum massagers that both baby and parents can use, massage can bring your little one quite a bit of relief.
If you don’t want to purchase any aids, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands and nails, and keep your fingernails trimmed short, then gently insert your finger into your baby’s mouth and apply gentle pressure in a circular motion to help soothe tender gums.
Sometimes Hugs Are The Best Medicine
When all else fails, hugs are often the best medicine. Teething is a tough time for most children, so remember to have a little grace when they get fussy and be generous with the cuddles. A little kindness and compassion go a long way for adults, and children are no different.
Pain Medication For Teething
There are a lot of advertised over-the-counter medications for teething pain. However, if you’re concerned about your child’s gum pain, it’s best to consult your pediatrician. They’ll be able to help you find a medication that’s right for your child and won’t cause lasting harm to their developing gums and new teeth.
Pediatrics East is Here to Help
Our experienced, compassionate pediatricians have been helping children all over Memphis and the surrounding areas find relief from teething pain. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s dental development, make an appointment today!
SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT