Teething 101: Soothing Those Sore Little Gums

You know what your baby is trying to tell you from the way they cry. The low pitched on-and-off wailing means your baby is hungry. The quivery whimper to wail sound means your baby is exhausted. When the crying stops the minute you pick your baby up and resumes when you put them down, it means they want cuddles. And just when you think you’ve got them all figured out, a new one crops up. A sudden, high-pitched shriek building into loud wails. Your baby is teething.

Babies usually start teething at about 6-7 months. It happens when the baby’s teeth buds begin to make their way through the baby’s gums. Although, we often refer to a baby’s teething as “cutting teeth”, the baby’s teeth are not actually cutting through the baby’s gums. Rather, teething occurs when the baby’s body releases chemicals that cause the gums above the teeth to disintegrate and separate. In other words, move over gums, teeth are comin’ through! (Sounds a little more tolerable when we put it that way.)

So, besides crying, what are the symptoms of teething?  Babies who are teething are likely to drool excessively, wake up a often through the night, and they’re also likely to chew on anything within their reach. So get ready to leave your low hanging necklaces and rings in the jewelry box.  Also expect to see a lot of ear pulling and cheek tugging. The ears and cheeks share the nerve pathways with the gums, and pulling or tugging on them may be a sign of your child trying to relieve gum discomfort.

Teething can also cause a lot of coughing or gagging due to excess saliva, and the baby may even develop a teething rash caused by the chafing from the moisture (if this happens, apply a natural, toxin-free moisturizer). So, what do you do? Your baby is miserable, and you feel helpless.

But you’re not. Far from it. Here is a list of tips for providing comfort to your little one while their teeth emerge:

  1. Chewing: From the way your baby chews on things, you know that the counter-pressure relieves your babies pain. Why not give your baby something to chew on that’s not your favorite necklace? A wet washcloth gives your baby not just something to chew on, but also something wet and cold which can numb the gums while providing relief. Just be sure to store the washcloth in the fridge rather than the freezer. Extreme cold may cause more discomfort than comfort to your baby.

  2. Silicone teething toys: Silicone teething toys can also give your baby something to sink his or her teeth into. They’re far safer than rubber, plastic, or wood, and are specially designed to provide the relief your child needs. When buying a silicon teether, look for one that is 100% food grade rated, is BPA free, and contains no traces of lead, phthalates, or heavy metals.

  3. Massage: Massaging gums with a finger or lightly pressed toothbrush can give your little one the counter-pressure to withstand the pains of teething.

  4. Cold Foods and Drinks: Whenever there’s pain, a drink is in order. Why not give your baby some cold water on-the-rocks to numb that pain away? And if baby is old enough to eat, try some puree. If the coolness of the food doesn’t soothe his discomfort, the taste of the food might make them forget all about it.

  5. Distractions: What good mom doesn’t have a few tricks up her sleeve? A game of peekaboo can be the solution to a multitude of problems.

  6. Pain Relief: If you can’t do it DIY you may want to go OTC. Not for nothing did someone make Infant Ibuprofen, and if all else fails, you may want to consider it. Just remember to get your doctor’s blessing first using this and all other medications.

So, the next time you hear those screams of pain, don’t worry, you’ve got this. Your baby may sound scary, but its bark is surely worse than its bite.

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