While teething can begin as early as three months, it’s most common to see the first tooth pushing through when your little one is between four and seven months old. The emergence of your baby’s first teeth can be a frustrating experience for both you and your baby and although teething may be painless for some babies, many may drool more and want to chew on things.
Other signs of teething include irritability, sometimes brief and sometimes lasting a few weeks; disrupted sleep and eating patterns and tender and swollen gums accompanied by high temperatures and crankiness.
Helping your baby from the start
Even before the first teeth start to push through the gums, consider feeding your little one food with high levels of calcium and vitamin D. These will help to ensure that your baby has strong healthy teeth, when they eventually all come through.
Once the first tooth shows, it’s time to start brushing. Even with only one or two teeth, dental hygiene is important. Use a soft, rounded baby toothbrush and water or fluoride-free training toothpaste to brush these teeth twice a day. This will not only take care of the teeth that are arriving, but will also go a long way to creating a good dental routine for your little one.
Dealing with the problems
Drooling is a common sign of teething and can be frustrating. Consider using a teething bib (or rather, a number of them throughout the day) instead of changing clothes that are soaked through with drool over and over throughout the day. Make sure you wipe the chin and cheeks regularly to prevent chafed skin in these areas.
Cold and pressure help to ease the gnawing feeling for your little one and there are a host of options that can help. There are many teething toys that are safe for your little one to chew on which can provide the pressure they want, and can be frozen to provide the additional soothing cold.
The urge to champ on something is overwhelming for your little one but it also serves a purpose – helping to get the new teeth through the gums. Consider introducing a toothbrush to chew on. Not only will this provide the relief your baby is looking for but will also introduce the texture and feel of a brush to your baby’s mouth which will be helpful later on.
Using medication for teething
If your child is battling with sleep because of the discomfort of teething, your doctor can prescribe a suitable painkiller or you can purchase gel or liquid medicines that can be applied directly to your baby’s gums.
There are homeopathic options available if you prefer not to use medicines, which will help to reduce the swelling and relieve irritability. There are also a number of home remedies that are safe and effective for relieving the symptoms of teething for your baby. Ground cloves work well for pain relief for both adults and babies, as does natural vanilla.
Traditional materials like amber and hazelwood have been used in teething necklaces for centuries to reduce inflammation and acidity in the body.
Other popular and effective home solutions include popsicles made from fruit juices, which are especially effective in warmer weather to provide something to gnaw on and something cold to provide relief for baby. Baby biltong is another trusted remedy that can be found at many butchers. These biltong sticks do not have the traditional spices found on biltong, but provide a tasty tool that can be chewed on for hours. The biltong can be frozen to provide extra relief for your baby as they chew.
Teething is not new, but may be for you, and can be frustrating and exhausting. Some babies suffer worse than others during this time and can battle with sleeping, eating and sucking. The sucking action can sometimes exacerbate the pain and your baby may wail and fuss at feeding time. Consider using a soft-lipped cup to help at these times, or help to reduce the pain and discomfort with a teething solution before trying to feed again.
It is important to remember that your baby is experiencing discomfort and sometimes pain with teething, and cannot vocalise this to you other than through fussiness and crying. If you are prepared with a number of remedies to help relieve the discomfort, and know what to expect during this time, you can help your baby when the teething begins.