If you just had your first child, you should probably prepare yourself for the teething experience you most likely won’t be able to ever forget. It’s true, every baby is different, so there are no rules when it comes to their behavior and character, but when their teeth start coming out, it seems like they all become non stop crying machines that you just don’t know how to turn off and stop.
Given that teething is almost always followed by mild fever, extensive drooling, and continuous crying, it is considered to be one of the most stressful phases in both babies and parent’s lives. In order to learn how to handle all that and how to soothe a teething baby, we gathered for you all the tips and tricks we could find. Some may sound a bit silly, but they are proofed by the desperate parents who were trapped in a teething episode for way too long.
When Do Babies Start Teething?
Again, this is not a strict math formula. Some babies might be four months old when their first tooth starts coming out, while others can remain toothless for more than a year. The American Academy of Pediatrics says most infants will enter this phase somewhere between six and twelve months of age, and end it by the time they become three.
So you should know there is no reason for you to start panicking if your child is still not showing signs of teething while your little neighbor who is the same age already has a couple of white spots in its mouth. Every child is different, and this is all normal. Genetics may play a massive role in this matter, as well as the fact that the baby was born prematurely or with low weight. Those are factors that can delay or speed teething up.
Usually, babies have four teeth by the time they are 11 months old, twelve by the time they become a year and a half old, and on the day they celebrate their second birthday, the little ones will mostly have sixteen milk teeth. Lower front teeth are the first ones to show up, but they are closely followed by top front ones. The last to develop are the second molars, and the whole process may last until kids are twelve years old.
But you should know that if your little one doesn’t have any teeth by the eighteenth months, you need to go and visit a paediatrician, because sometimes the reason may lie in some kind of medical condition like hypoactive thyroid, malnutrition or vitamin deficiency.
Signs Your Baby is Teething
If you wonder how to help a teething baby, you first need to know how to recognize the symptoms and signs that this is even happening. If you see your little ones drooling and putting their hands in their mouth all the time, it’s most likely their teeth are about to come out, but there are some other things too that can show you teething started.
Your baby can be in a very bad mood and cry almost all the time because the teething can be very painful. They can have an urge to bite and chew things, but don’t be surprised if they are not interested in food. They will most likely have trouble falling and staying asleep, so prepare yourself for sleepless nights. If you already wonder how to put a baby to sleep when this starts happening, we will come to that later on.
You should check if their gums are red and swollen too, that’s another clear sign, and their cheeks may have a slight rash. Infants who are experiencing teething will probably have higher body temperature, so you need to make sure to keep it under control. Given that teething causes stress to their little organisms, kids at this stage might be more susceptible to illness as well.
But the thing is, all these symptoms may come and go for quite a long period of time since the teeth don’t come out altogether at the same time. The signs can also be consistent if one teeth follows another. But, there are cases where babies didn’t show any signs, and they just woke up one day with cute little white spots in their mouth.
Tips on How to Help a Teething Baby at Night
Now when you are sure what’s going on, the question is how to help a teething baby. There are tricks and tips that can help the little ones to go through this phase less painfully, so here are some baby teething remedies and steps that turned out to be quite useful.
Rub their gums
Infant’s gums will be sore and swollen right before teeth start coming out, so in order to help them, you can use your clean finger and gently rub this area. You can repeat this as many times as you want during the day. It would be even better if you put your finger under the cold water first that will alleviate their gum irritation immediately.
Purchase teething toys
You should buy your kids some appropriate and safe rubber or plastic toys they can chew all day long. Those will relieve them from feeling pressure in their gums and ease down the pain they may feel right before the teeth eruption. Make sure the toys are round and made out of high-quality material so they cannot hurt themselves.
Try frozen washcloth
This may sound foolish, but it really helps. Take a clean washcloth, put it under the water, twist it, and place inside the freezer. Then, after some time, take it out and press it on the infant’s gums. The cold cloth will numb this region, and reduce the inflammation or aches.
Serve them hard foods
It’s great if your kids started eating solid food. The fact that they know how to chew will be beneficial because you can give them a carrot, apple, or some other piece of fruit and veggie to gnaw. That way, they will eat something and make the gum pain less irritating at the same time.
Give them medications
If there are no other options, you should give your child prescribed drugs. They really shouldn’t suffer more than they have too since it is a huge stress for their little bodies. But you can choose whether to give them classic or natural medication. Some of the best baby teething remedies are homeopathic teething pills or essential oils.
Let them suck
It is proven that infants find sucking a comforting act, so you should let them breastfeed, drink from the bottle, or use a pacifier more often. The research even showed this could ease down their teething pain, so it is recommended for them to suck frequently during this time.
Comfort them with cuddles
You can soothe teething babies by simply holding them in your arms and cuddling them gently. Many research showed that presenting love and affection to the little ones or depriving them of the same can be transformative for their little lives. There’s nothing that will make them calmer than as a parent’s comfort.
This is just an extension of the previous tip. In order to keep your baby close to you, because that’s what makes them calmer and less nervous, you can put them in a carrier, wrap or sling. Even though you don’t believe something like that can make any change, try it. You will be surprised.
Importance of Sleep for Babies
Teething and sleep are very much connected. They are affecting one another constantly in this stage of a kid’s life, so you need to pay some extra attention to it. Scientifically is proven infants need to sleep a lot in order to allow their bodies and their brains to develop properly and in the right time frame. But the fact is pain and irritation caused by growing teeth can mess up the sleeping schedule of your little ones entirely, and at the same time, transform your life into complete hell.
Now, the question is, how much sleep do kids need, and what can you do to help them get those hours to rest properly. By the time when they start teething, infants should have from nine to twelve hours of sleep, but they need to take a nap three to four times a day as well. There are a bunch of reasons why they need to have this amount of time for rest. When they are in the deep REM stage of sleep, their energy will be restored, their blood supply to the muscles will be increased, and the hormones that are crucial for growth and development will be released.
So the main question is how to get a teething baby to sleep? In order to help them have a normal resting period that will be disrupted by the teething for sure, make sure their sleeping schedule remains the same, repeat the same bedtime routine as always, and provide them with the best crib mattress. Cuddle them, sing to them, give them the teething toys to chew, or simply try to breastfeed.
Questions for the Pediatrician
Do babies sleep more when teething?
Commonly, when they are teething, babies will wake up nervously crying because they are in pain, and it will be quite hard to make them sleep again. But in some cases, they might spend more time in the realm of dreams. It turns out that this stress can make them feel like catching a cold, so you shouldn’t be surprised if they sleep a bit more than usual.
What temperature is normal for teething?
It is well known that the process of teeth growing can lead to some inconveniences like drooling, gum pain, mild fever, etc. When it comes to this last part, you should know that it is okay for your kid to have up to 38.3 degrees Celsius (101 degrees Fahrenheit) body temperature, but everything beyond that means you should take them to doctors. Higher temperature may be a sign of some illness or infection that is not related to teething.
What remedies are safe for infants?
There are certain OTC medications as well as natural remedies that are not safe for kids, so make sure to double-check with your pediatrician what you should give to the little ones. It is proven that those drugs that contain benzocaine, belladonna, and lidocaine, for example, are unsafe and not recommended for kids.
How to know are babies drooling extensively?
It is quite difficult to assess if the drooling is extensive since babies tend to do that all the time. You should know that increased saliva is completely normal at this stage of your child’s life, but if you notice it’s non stop pouring from their mouth and making their cheeks and neck covered by rash or some kind of irritation, it is probably increased, and it’s most likely teeth are ready to come out.
When is the right time for the first dentist visitation?
According to the American Dental Association, you should schedule the first dentist appointment right after your child gets their first tooth, or at least somewhere around their first birthday. The specialist will be able to then see if there are any cases of tooth decay or some other potential problem. It will be the perfect opportunity to show you how to brush your kid’s teeth properly as well.
Teething is a definitely stressful period, both for children, but for their parents as well. There is nothing worse than seeing your little one in pain and not being able to help them and make the cause of the suffering disappear. The endless crying isn’t helpful too. It will make your tired and sensitive nerves even worse, so don’t be surprised if you start crying along with your infant.
However, you should remember that it is only temporary, that it will all go away soon, and that it really isn’t as awful as it looks. Every child has to go through this phase. We made a list of the things that can be helpful, so make sure to try them on a couple of times. Today they may not respond to a frozen washcloth, for example, but another day it may be just what they needed.