Between four and ten months old, most babies will start teething. For many parents, this can be a difficult time as baby suffers from painful gums, irritability and disturbed sleep. With all that extra drool, they may also suffer from sore rashes on their chin. But what can you do to help ease baby’s discomfort? Here are a few tried and tested methods to ease teething.
Babies often find comfort from putting something cold in their mouths. You could try a cold pacifier, a clean, wet cloth (chilled in a plastic bag in the fridge or wrapped around an ice cube), or a cold spoon.
Experts believe frozen teething toys may damage your child’s mouth, but something from the fridge, as long as it is clean, should be fine. Baby may also find relief eating yoghurt or chilled fruit if they have reached weaning age.
Once your child has been weaned, you could try giving them a bagel or large carrot from the fridge, a hard, unsweetened teething biscuit or some chilled fruit such as apple wedges. The combination of chewing on something hard and cold may offer that much-needed relief. Try to avoid letting baby chew on anything that contains lots of sugar and remember to watch out for choking hazards. Never leave baby unattended.
Baby massage can help with the pain that comes with teething. Massage releases natural painkillers as well as the hormone Oxytocin, which helps baby feel calm and happy. The firm pressure of massage may also help baby feel less pain – the pressure impulse reaches the brain faster than the pain impulse.
If baby is desperate to chew something, teething rings are a good idea, particularly if they can be cooled (not frozen) in the fridge first. Choosing a teething ring that contains water only is a good idea, in case it tears at the seam.
Teething necklaces are not recommended by child health experts because of the dangers of choking and strangulation. For example, the necklace may break and baby could swallow one of the beads.
Some people believe that Baltic amber teething necklaces help to relieve teething pain. This is because amber contains succinic acid, a natural healer. It is thought that when the amber is warmed against the body, the acid is released into the skin. However, there is no scientific evidence behind this.
A good old-fashioned cuddle will work wonders to soothe a distressed baby, or try distracting them with their favourite game.
If you are breastfeeding baby, this can also bring comfort, although you don’t need to change an existing routine. You could try rubbing baby’s gums while they are feeding, particularly if biting is a problem.
Some parents swear by chamomile tea. While it hasn’t been medically proven, you could try dipping a clean, wet cloth, or a clean finger into the tea and rubbing on baby’s gums. Remember to avoid any tea with caffeine and do not try to make your own from the garden, as there is a high risk of botulism.
Preventing Teething Rashes
Avoid a sore chin rash by wiping baby’s drool away more often with a gentle towel and add a little organic oil to provide a barrier.
Experts recommend that parents try non-medicinal options to soothe teething first, but some parents use teething gels, which contain a mild anaesthetic to numb the painful area. There is no evidence that these work, but if you decide to try, make sure it is designed for your baby’s age. These are available from pharmacies, but speak with the pharmacist for advice before using.
For babies in a lot of discomfort, you could try a sugar-free painkilling medicine such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, which can be given to children over three months old. However, children under 16 years old should not have aspirin, and always follow the instructions that come with the medicine, or speak with you doctor or pharmacist.
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