One of the challenging times during any baby’s first year is when his teeth start to come out. The exact age that a baby’s teeth come out varies from one child to another. Typically, a baby gets his first tooth between 5 to 8 months of age. Within the first two years of a baby’s life, you can expect more than 15 of his teeth to come out.
Teething can start three months prior to the actual eruption of the tooth. But again, this varies from baby to baby. Depending on who you talk to, teething can result in a number of symptoms like irritability, crying, gnawing, low-grade fever, excessive drooling, sleep disturbances and many more. Whether these symptoms are truly caused by teething or not is often the subject of debate among moms, grandmothers, caregivers, pediatricians and dentists. One thing is for sure, each teething baby reacts differently to this major milestone.
To keep a baby calm during the teething process, try any of the following suggestions:
- Offer the baby some distractions. When the baby starts to become fussy, find activities that will make him temporarily forget about his discomfort. Try playing with him, singing to him or taking him out for a walk in the garden.
- Give him a teething ring. Teething rings are great inventions. Put a couple in the freezer. When a teething tantrum is in the offing, bring out the teething ring from the freezer, wait a minute or two, then give your baby the cold teething ring to gnaw on. Don’t give a frozen teething ring that can hurt his lips and gums. The cold will numb his aching gums, acting somewhat like a local anesthetic. Just make sure to check that the teething ring you buy is safe for babies. Don’t forget to wash and dry the teething ring well after each use. Don’t give your baby teething crackers or biscuits that can break into pieces. These are choking hazards.
- Rub his gums. You can use a soft, clean washcloth to rub his gums. Place an ice cube in the washcloth to keep it cool. Massage gently.
- Avoid additional stress. Fussy babies fuss more when the surroundings are not calm and peaceful. Babies can feel stress around them so make sure you bring him to a quiet place instead of in the living room with the television or stereo in full blast. Keep your cool as well. Remember, everything shall come to pass including his teething.
- Consider giving medication. Check with the pediatrician if your baby needs painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen or gum numbing medication. These usually contain a local anesthetic. Ask about teething gels as well that claim to help ease the baby’s discomfort. Never give them medication that is not recommended by the pediatrician. Soaking the teething ring in rum, whiskey or any other type of alcohol is a no-no. It may offer temporary pain relief but it can also prove toxic for the baby.
Some parents are lucky enough never to experience the symptoms often associated with teething. There are baby’s who wake up the next day with a brand new spanking baby tooth without the fuss normally associated with this event. Other babies turn into little monsters during the teething period. Try some of the suggestions above. If nothing seems to work, make sure to get the advice of your pediatrician because for all you know, the fussiness is not caused by teething at all. Remember to be extra patient and calm during this time. A teething baby needs your support, love and understanding.