How to help a teething baby

My little one has been suffering with her teeth for many weeks

A teething baby can be a heartbreaking thing to witness.

The grumbling, the pain and the endless gnawing on their little chubby fists.

As parents you’re desperate to help and it totally stresses you out at the same time.

It’s frustrating that nothing you do seems to help and how this can go on for months and months, with no end in sight.

But there is a way to handle teething without the stress.

Here’s my guide to coping:

Signs of teething

Frantic chewing

Your baby will probably chew endlessly on their hands and make a lot of grumbling noises while they’re doing it. They will also pick up anything within arm’s reach and have a good gnaw on that too.

The confusing thing is that babies do tend to chew on toys and put things on their mouth anyway. The key is that it will be combined with the whinging sound, and it will be pretty clear from their behaviour that they’re in discomfort.

Dribbling

Some babies dribble a lot and some don’t at all. You might want to stock up on bibs and bring reserves with you when you go out. Some babies can soak a pile of bibs in just one day.

Red gums

Raised, red patches on the gums can point to where teeth are coming through. However, some babies don’t get redness where teeth are about to arrive.

My youngest has been suffering with her teeth for weeks. But her gums have only turned red around her bottom molars. With the rest, all I can see is the outline of the tooth bulging through the gums.

Fussing

Your once smiling and happy little baby will go from being a little angel to being utterly miserable. Plus they may want to be carried constantly.

This sudden bout of constant crying and clingy behaviour can be a bit of a shock to the system for parents who thought they had emerged from the nightmare newborn phase.

Disturbed sleep

As if everything else wasn’t hard enough, the pain may impact on their naps and bedtime.

It can be very frustrating dealing with a squirming, unhappy baby in the middle of the night. You feel so helpless. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t last forever and there are things you can try, see below.

Loss of appetite

Your once hungry baby is suddenly refusing solids and prefers to only have milk. This can be tough if you’re breastfeeding and had just got into a nice, comfortable routine based around their mealtimes.

It can also lead to your baby chomping down on your nipples, which obviously is not going to go down well with you. To discourage this behaviour, unlatch them immediately and tell them “no” in a gentle but firm tone. Don’t shout as this may either encourage the behaviour more or upset your child further. I’ve written some tips for healing from nipple bites in an earlier post.

If your baby needs extra milk feeds, just let them have it. This phase will pass and they’ll be back on their solid food in no time. Keep offering the solid meals as you normally would, but don’t stress if they prefer milk for a while.

What you can do to help your baby

Teething powder

There are various brands producing powder or granules. The product comes in sachets which you pour into your baby’s mouth.

I’ve found this product a bit fiddly and it didn’t seem to make much difference to my baby, but other mums I know swear by it. It’s worth a try, as finding the right treatment can be a matter of trial and error.

Teething gel

Teething gel is a quick and very easy method to provide temporary relief. Gels such as Calgel only work for short periods of time but they can give your baby a very welcome break from discomfort.

You can get stronger teething gels, such as Anbesol, from behind the counter at pharmacies. This can only be used three times a day, but is great for bedtime when trying to settle a distraught baby to sleep.

Teething toys

There are so many to choose from that you’re spoiled for choice. Sophia the Giraffe is a popular option and teething rings you can pop in the fridge to cool down may also help your baby.

You may find teething toys with more bumpy surfaces work better for your baby as they give the gums a massage. Try giving them a baby toothbrush as well, as that can calm them too.

This is a matter of choice for you, keep trying different things until you find what your baby prefers.

Painkillers

I prefer Calpol when it comes to painkillers but there’s loads of other brands too of course. Always follow the dosage instructions. I like to time any doses I give in the day so that the final dose is given right before bedtime, when they’re having their last bottle.

This gives your baby the best shot at a good night’s sleep.

It’s not forever

Do remember that this phase is very hard, but it doesn’t last forever. Be kind to yourself and cut corners with the housework where you can.

Check out my YouTube video about coping with teething:

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Read more: The trials of teething

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Ultimate guide to helping a teething baby

 

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