Teething. That word alone can literally make any mum cry.
It is not an easy time to go through with your baby. But it is inevitable and all we can do is to make it as pleasant as possible. It is also a big relationship test filled with sleepless nights, household chaos and baby tantrums. But also a huge relief when it is all through and over. That’s a lot of emotions to endure as a mom, right? Exactly that and one long roller coaster. Teething is a hot topic among parents of infants up to 2 to 3 years (sometimes older).
The teething period is usually a very painful stage of the life of a baby. Thankfully, the key symptoms will help you to spot the start of teething. You will have enough time to prepare for it and help your baby with one of the simple natural remedies.
With your baby coming, it is a good idea to start thinking what you need, and what you already have so you are fully prepared when your little one needs you most.
Beware: When your baby first starts making a fuss or looks slightly pink around the cheeks, everyone will assume that teething is the problem. You will receive friendly advice on various methods to tackle the issue. Unsurprisingly, this barrage of information is not always a great help. Not every whinge or cry is the hint of teething. Likewise, not every remedy is automatically suitable.
THE PROCESS OF TEETHING
The teething itself starts with the tooth emerging through the gums. The process ends with the tooth “cutting through” the gums. This referred to as “eruption”. The whole process takes a couple of months and sometimes up to a year for the teeth to appear. The tooth doesn’t miraculously show up one day as I thought it would. Some of you might now be thinking “that’s a given if you read up on it”, but not every mom does! I was one of them and with my first child, I had no idea whatsoever what to expect!
How long does teething last?
The teething eruption generally happens in the following order. It is just a general timeline sourced from American Dental Association that is in no way set in stone as every child is different.
WHEN DO BABIES START TEETHING
The usual age for a baby to get her or his first tooth is six months. The age of 4 months is early and on the other end of the scale, there are children who got first tooth at 15 months! If your baby is on the later side do not take it as an indication that there is a problem with the overall development of the child.
Around 3 months of age, parents tend to mistake a baby’s drooling and chewing on a fist as the first sign of teething. These are just typical actions for babies at this age. Not necessarily signs that the first tooth is coming in.
Is it normal that my baby doesn’t have teeth yet?
Please consult with your child’s doctor in case your baby’s first tooth hasn’t come in by the 12 months mark. Certain tests are to be performed to rule out medical problems. X-rays will be done to make sure teeth are in place underneath the baby’s gums. Generally, first dental check-up should happen by first birthday – Regardless of when your baby’s teething process starts.
My daughter was one of the late teethers. She started the teething process around 6 months of age. Finally, her first tooth cut through just three weeks shy of her first birthday. I was so ecstatic because she had her 1st tooth showing in her 1st birthday photos!
When she was 18 months she has had already 8 teeth so far with her first set of molars cutting through. The whole teething process is not easy- especially the molars are tough. My nights were spent waking up every two hours to nurse her like a newborn. Also, she was always to throw random tantrums.
Before I had her, I honestly thought that this whole teething business was just a very convenient way for parents to excuse their children’s behavior. Oh boy, how wrong I was…
Around 6 months, my daughter would suddenly start wailing for seemingly no reason. It took a lot of effort, but I was always able to calm her.
When she was around 9 months old, she began to have colossal outbursts of screaming and crying. She was so short-tempered and unhappy. It was then I realized that teething is not just an excuse. It was just so REAL!
She turned into a teething monster! She was a drooling machine. She was constantly trying to get an anything around to chew on – especially my fingers! I discovered that cold things were a huge relief for her. I tried numerous teething treats and what worked best was: frozen fruit popsicles and silicone teethers.
BE PREPARED: TEETHING SYMPTOMS
The process of a child’s teeth growing through is a perfectly normal part of your baby’s development.
The usual signs and symptoms of teething (although in the beginning, it may be misleading) associated with teething include:
- Drooling – This is one of the first signs and usually starts around 3-6 months. You will see lots of drool coming out of the baby’s mouth.
- Biting – Baby puts fingers and fists in the mouth. She tries to bite and chew on anything in sight.
- Gum rubbing – Baby is rubbing her gums with hand or various items. It eases her discomfort.
- Lack of sleep – baby is waking up crying or just moving around in the sleep in as a result of discomfort. The normal sleep routine is disrupted thanks to teething including the difficulty of getting to sleep. Baby is inevitably cranky because of the pain and lack of sleep.
- Facial Rash – The excess drool irritates the sensitive skin around the mouth.
- Food Aversions – Depending on whether the baby has started solids or not, you might notice they don’t have much of an appetite or don’t want to eat things they previously liked. Also, most nursing babies would prefer to nurse which is comforting or prefer to eat food items that help soothe their gums.
Other baby teething symptoms might include food aversion, fever, diarrhea (often with accompanying diaper rash) or ear pain.
REMEDIES THAT WILL HELP YOU SOOTHE YOUR TEETHING BABY
Here’s my top list of teething solutions that have always saved our day. I recommend having several of these things ready on hand because you never know when teething pain (and subsequent bad mood or tantrum) will strike. I’ve tested them all on both my babies. The results were pretty much similar with each child.
There are exceptions to the rule, however. If your mama instinct is telling you that something isn’t right – go see your doctor!
Here are a number of tried-and-tested solutions and remedies. See which ones work for you and your baby:
GIVE YOUR BABY SOMETHING COLD TO CHEW ON
Give baby cold or frozen slices of banana, mango, cucumber, watermelon, and so on to munch on. When our babies were getting their very first teeth, we gave them mesh baby feeders with cold or frozen fruit in them. There are so many different kinds on the market these days – next time I might get one with a cap.
But what do you put into the teething mesh feeder? Banana is especially beneficial, as it also helps to reduce diarrhea, which is a typical side effect when the baby is teething.
There are tons of other options, however. You can try a few of them until you find what works out best for your baby. Great foods for putting in a teething feeder include:
- pureed melon
- raw apple or pear
- frozen blueberries or strawberries
- frozen peaches or nectarines
- pieces raw carrot (fresh or frozen)
- crushed ice or frozen breast milk
Frozen popsicle. The choice is wide: breast milk, water or herbal tea placed in a little popsicle and left in the freezer until solid.
You can also make fruit popsicles. Freeze your baby’s favourite fruit puree alone or mix it with yogurt.
The ancient trick – using a cold item and pressure to relieve baby’s hurting gums is still a brilliant cure. You can use many safe objects that can be frozen. When the baby chews on them and the cold helps to numb the affected area. The pressure is relaxing for irritated gums.
For example, try the washcloth trick. Dip a piece of clean fabric in water or chamomile tea and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Chamomile tea has the added bonus of helping to soothe and relax baby.
Have baby wear an amber teething necklace. The real amber is considered a natural painkiller. It is a great alternative to over-the-counter medicines. How it works? When worn on the skin, baby’s body heat triggers the Baltic amber to release an oil containing succinic acid. Many parents swear by its anti-inflammatory qualities. Yes, the scientific evidence is lacking for now … but there are just too many encouraging stories to ignore the helpfulness of Baltic amber.
Genuine Baltic Amber is known to contain succinic acid. Succinic acid is essentially a natural analgesic (painkiller). This means that the genuine Baltic beads act as a natural alternative to relieve teething pain in babies thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Tip: Be sure to remove the necklace from the neck before your baby goes to sleep. You can double wrap it around a wrist or ankle instead. Also, do your research before you buy – to be sure that you get a real one. There are many fakes on the market. Buy from a reputable shop and always read the reviews.
WOODEN AND SILICONE TEETHERS
Something to chew on is usually all your baby really needs to get through the pain of teething. I don’t know what it is about the wooden objects, but my second baby is drawn to them. He loved his wooden building blocks. Later we actually found some great wooden teethers and chew rings.
One of the all-time favourites was proven this wooden kangaroo teether. It is made of unfinished wood. When shopping for one, please make sure that it meets the health standards. You certainly don’t want any harmful chemicals around your baby.
There are lots of options for silicone teething toys that are also safe and non-toxic. These teethers are a great way to stop the finger chewing and excessive drooling. It seems the silicone is the perfect material – it is soft but durable at the same time. We started trying different teething options, hoping to avoid a finger sucking habit and to provide much needed teething relief.
We tried the famous Sophie the Giraffe, but for one reason or another, my babies’ interest in it fizzled out rather quickly. Lucky there are so many teething toys out there, it wasn’t hard to find a few good replacements that are still being drooled on – even after 6 months of use. These are our favorites:
TEETHING NECKLACE FOR MOM
This is another great option. These necklaces are made of silicone and are great for baby to use while sitting in mom’s lap or in a baby carrier. They also act as something to fiddle with for baby while she nurses, which is quite the relief when you have a fiddle-happy baby!
HERBAL REMEDIES FOR TEETHING
Herbal remedies are here since hundreds of years ago. They help to ease baby’s teething pain and heaps of other illnesses. Here are some of them:
- Chamomile – The most popular remedy for teething ailments. It relaxes the gums and soothes irritability.
- Rosehip – Full of antioxidants and vitamin C. Rosehip tea is also the immune-system booster. In addition, rosehip contains anti-inflammatory properties.
- Catnip – Calm moody babies and help them rest.
- Clove – Clove is a natural anaesthetic. It works great to relieve pain (similar effects as benzocaine).
Any of these herbs can be made into a tea, which can be used to dampen wash clothes before freezing. You can also give the tea to baby as a beverage, or rub it directly on the gums. To make a tea, boil water and steep 1 tsp of herbs in 10 oz, of water for 6–7 minutes.
You can also make an herbal infusion that can be rubbed directly onto the gums. In a small saucepan, place your herbs and cover with olive oil. Simmer on low for 4–6 hours. Strain and store in the refrigerator. Dab some oil onto baby’s gums as needed.
TEETHING GEL ALTERNATIVES
I’m also wary of using teething gels because they contain things like Vaseline, alcohol, and Benzocaine. In general, not exactly the things I like to put in my baby’s mouth.
There are alternative products on the market – that contain no Benzocaine – the standard ingredient used to numb gums in conventional teething gels. Instead, they contain all-natural ingredients that are supposed to work without actually numbing anything.
The FDA has issued several warnings about benzocaine, the active ingredient in baby teething gels already. Benzocaine can trigger (under certain conditions) a rare and sometimes fatal blood condition called methemoglobinemia. The result of this is dangerously low oxygen levels in the blood. The resulting symptoms are blue-colored skin, ashen, shortness of breath gray or and rapid heart rate!
BONUS: BABIES LOVE A CLEAN FINGER TO CHEW ON. This is probably the oldest method to ease the discomfort of your baby. Give your thumb to your baby if you have no other mean to soothe her. The pressure of the gums on your finger helps relieve the pain of the tooth through the gum. It is also a great way to bond with your baby.