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How to better Soothe a Teething Baby
A Mom With Lots of Experience
Let me begin by saying, I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR A DENTIST. I am, however, a research crazy, stay at home mommy of 4. Or just a crazy mommy of 4 :). Either way, call it curiosity, knowledge hunger, or just boredom, I like to look up EVERYTHING. Especially when it comes to my kids. Recently my youngest, 3 and 1/2 months old, began showing some signs that she may be teething. Since my next youngest is almost 10 years old, naturally, I found I'd forgotten a few things about the whats and whens of babyhood. So to the search engines I went. Any information you read here is either from medical resources I personally looked up, some advice from my own family doctor, and/or from my own experiences with my own children, that I can remember.
How to Tell if Your Baby is Teething...
One thing to understand about the symptoms of teething, there is also a stage in babyhood referred to as the oral stage. The oral stage is the stage of an infant's development in which the mouth is the focus of the libido and satisfaction comes from suckling and chewing and biting. It is the term used by Sigmund Freud to describe his theory of child development during the first 21 months of life, in which an infant's pleasure centers are in the mouth. . Now, that doesn't mean that your baby might not be teething. This is just a little information I pass along just so you know.
A teething baby may or may not show these signs or symptoms, but typically, these will be the ones to look for:
Noticeable crankiness, irritability, on occasion a low grade temp, chewing, drooling, discomfort, restlessness, reddened or swollen gums, may refuse nipple or bottle due to tenderness of gums, sudden screaming or crying for what seems no reason at all.
Some babies have been known to develop mild ear infections, diarrhea, or sometimes constipation, in which cases you may also notice tugging on the ears, or colic type symptoms.
Teething usually begins around 6 months of age, but can happen as early as 3 months. This process continues for about 2 years until all 20 primary teeth have come in. The order in which primary teeth appear is also fairly predictable, and they usually come by two's. This may come in handy when you are trying to determine the spot to check whether your baby is teething or not.
*Always remember that any time your child is not feeling well, it is a good idea to check with your doctor for advice. Low grade temps have been known to be common for a teething child, however, high fevers are not typically associated with teething. Always check with your doctor in any case where your child runs a high temperature. This may be an indication of something other than teething.
What You Can Do, and What You May Not Want To Do
Here are some techniques used to help calm and soothe a teething baby. Keep in mind, these are all suggestions. Each parent has their own preference.
Teething Rings/Teething Toys: These are great ways to soothe a baby that is teething. During this time, they tend to chew on everything, so a teething ring is ideal. My preference was any type that was rough textured because my kids favored those. They help the tooth to break through the gum tissue much quicker, which in turn relieves the pain and pressure. There are also teether that can be put in the freezer, which are favored because it helps to numb the child's gums. Another type of teething toy I've come across are vibrating rings. I also used these and my kids really seemed to get some comfort from these.
Rub Down: A good massage with your finger over your child's throbbing gums is always an easy, quick effective way to give a little relief. You can also try a wet, cold wash cloth to wipe down the gums.
Tylenol-Motrin/Ibuprofen: These can be used to treat both pain, fevers, and with Ibuprofen- inflammation. As with any type of medication, always, always check with your family physician about giving medication to your child. Some doctors recommend not giving Ibuprofen to children under 2 due to it's association with Reyes Syndrome. ALWAYS talk to your doctor first.
Teething Tablets: These are wonderful, magical little tablets that dissolve very quickly under your child's tongue. They are all natural, with ingredients that assist with everything from fever to bone development, which is crucial with teething.
Topical Gels: Many parents I know have used these type of numbing agents for years. They are in fact very effective in numbing the area, however you should take caution in applying this on young infants. The gel is known to wash away rather quickly and can easily wash to the throat causing it to go numb which in turn could lead to choking in a younger baby. I have also been told by my doctor that these gels aren't very effective, and that they also tend to cause toughening of the gum tissue which makes it more difficult, and takes longer, for the tooth to break the surface. Talk to your doctor before deciding whether or not to use this type of treatment on your child.
****NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, PLACE ALCOHOL IN YOUR CHILD'S MOUTH. No matter which family member or friend recommends this as a safe remedy, it is not safe and could be harmful to your child.!