There is no doubt that teething can be a challenging time for both you and your baby.
From around six months of age, chances are you’ve established some sort of bedtime routine with your baby. It’s likely that they’ll be going to bed at a similar time each evening and whilst they may still wake occasionally during the night, there are likely to be some welcome chunks of sleep in between. Until teething arrives that is.
Suddenly your baby’s mood completely changes. They become fractious and unsettled, dribbling and drooling, may be off their food and are struggling to settle at night. They may wake more regularly, forcibly crying through pain or discomfort. As a parent, seeing your baby upset and uncomfortable can be hard to see.
Here are seven practical tips to help soothe and calm your teething baby.
Teething toys/rings – If you don’t already have some teething toys, it may be sensible to invest in a small selection, particularly if you opt for those with a cooling feature.
Uniquely shaped so that your baby can grab and hold on to them without assistance, teething toys are a great way to entertain and comfort your baby. In addition to an engaging, brightly coloured design, they usually feature a textured silicone or rubber ring, which can be chewed and bitten to provide some welcome pressure and relief for your baby’s gums.
As well as being a friendly companion to distract and play with, some teething toys can even be popped into the fridge before use, helping provide a cooling and soothing effect. Look out for teething toys that are easy to clean or ones that can be hooked onto your pushchair or stroller, as these are harder to accidentally drop or discard when on the move.
Rubbing the gums
If you find your baby biting down on your fingers, chewing their bibs or constantly putting their hands into their mouth, rubbing their gums may help. Applying gentle pressure or even letting your baby gnaw on a (clean) finger can help ease the ‘pushing’ sensation as their teeth start to break through the surface.
You may also want to consider using a topical teething gel (checking the age suitability on the packet before use). These teething gels contain a light anaesthetic which gently numbs the gums and can be particularly helpful to use before meal times if your baby is refusing food.
Choose teething friendly foods
It’s fair to say teething can play havoc with your baby’s appetite, meaning even the most enthusiastic of eaters may be far more hesitant than normal.
If your baby is already weaned, handing them a variety of baby-led foods to chew on can be a really effective way to assist with the symptoms of teething. Raw fruit and vegetables such as pepper and green beans or breadsticks and toast crusts are a great option, providing plenty of surface area for them to chew on – but ensure you’re on hand to avoid the risk of choking.
Alternatively, cool foods such as yoghurts, strawberries, melon and cucumber, can be soft on sore or sensitive gums.
If your baby is really off their food, you may find reverting back to purees, blended foods or soft pasta can help, providing a substantial meal without them needing to chew or make contact with their gums.
Bibs to prevent damp chest/drool
Teething doesn’t just bring unwelcome discomfort. It can also bring copious amounts of dribble and drool. In extreme cases, you may find your baby is soaking through their vests and baby grows, which can lead to red, irritated or inflamed skin across their chest and neck. To reduce the impact of teething, it’s important to keep your baby clean and dry, so dribble bibs and burp cloths will become your changing bag essential.
Regularly wipe away any visible drool from your baby’s mouth or chin, and change your baby’s bibs as soon as they are noticeably wet. Changing bibs is far easier than changing an entire outfit, and ensures the fabric against their skin stays dry and protected.
Do not underestimate the power of distraction. Keeping your baby busy, stimulated and occupied can help improve their mood and divert their attention away from their teeth. Whether it’s playing on the floor with some bricks, reading books together or bringing out some musical instruments, finding ways to engage your baby can help minimise the impact of their teething pain.
Whilst it’s most likely second nature to comfort your baby when they’re upset, doubling up on the number of cuddles can certainly help. Find quick ways that you can comfort and calm your baby – these could include a warm bath, a snuggle on the sofa with their favourite TV programme or simply cuddling them and holding them close during their nap. Physical contact and the reassurance of your presence will remind them that whilst their gums are a little uncomfortable, everything is going to be ok.
Last but my no means least, if the above methods aren’t pacifying your baby and they are in considerable pain, you may want to consider giving your baby some paracetamol to ease the symptoms. Follow the instructions on the packet to ensure you provide the right dose for your baby’s age, and space out the treatments accordingly.