Unable to sooth their baby’s teething, many an exhausted parent will turn to their doctor for help.
Tender, swollen gums can make life miserable for not only a baby but his/her parents too. While there are many suggestions, what works for one baby won’t necessarily work for another. The only way to truly find out which remedy best suits their baby, is for patients to patiently try them all.
- Gum massage: gentle pressure with a clean finger can relieve some of the discomfort.
- Cold spoon: chilled in the fridge (not freezer or it might stick) apply rounded part of the spoon to baby’s gums. Ideally use a plastic or wooden spoon.
- Cold facecloth: place a wet facecloth in a plastic bag and chill it in the freezer for an hour or so. To provide even more relief dip the cloth in refrigerated breast milk or chamomile tea before giving it to the baby.
- Chilled foods: if already on solids try offering the baby cold applesauce or yogurt.
- Cold fruit/veg: chilled fruit like apple slices or a banana can provide relief for a baby with sore gums. Placing the fruit in a feeding teether limits the risk of choking. Similarly, something like a large cold carrot is easy to hold while the baby chews on the other end.
- Breastfeeding: while sucking may aggravate teething for some babies, others may want to nurse more often for the sheer comfort of it. If a baby seems tempted to bite during nursing, try rubbing a clean finger over his/her gums before beginning and ending the session.
- Freeze a baby bottle: place a baby’s bottle with breastmilk, formula, water, or juice, upside down in the freezer ensuring the contents is frozen in the nipple. When they start to fuss, give it to the baby and allow him/her to chew on the cold, comforting nipple.
- Sippy cup: around six months try offering a slow flow sippy cup of cool water to suck on for comfort.
- Teethers: there are many different teethers for babies to chew on when teething becomes painful. These include, but are not limited to:
- Silicon teethers: ideally dishwasher safe and BPA-, phthalate-, PVC-, latex-free and can be placed in the fridge or freezer.
- Rubber: should be 100% natural rubber (BPA- and phthalate-free) and food paint, or 100% natural rubber latex (free of BPA, PVC, phthalates, and artificial colours).
- Plush teething toys: be sure to choose a safe organic brand.
- Wooden: commonly made of hardwoods they’re available unfinished or finished with certified organic flaxseed oil.
- Vibrating teethers: provide even more comfort.
- Teething jewellery for moms: made from the same material as many teething toys, but much prettier, it is easily accessible when worn by moms. Be sure FDA-approved silicone that is free of phthalates, BPA, PVC, latex, and lead, is non-toxic and dishwasher-safe is used.
TIP: placing a solid or liquid-filled teether in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before offering it to a baby can enhance its soothing powers. However, make sure it has a plastic handle so that it isn’t too cold for the baby to hold.
- Teething gel: oral anaesthetic teething gels can give 30-40 minutes of relief. Some healthcare providers recommend avoiding those containing salicylates or benzocaine.
- OTC pain relievers: while infants older than three months can be given acetaminophen, and those six months or older may be given infant ibuprofen, it is advisable to consult a paediatrician first. Also, as one should never give babies pain relievers around the clock it is best to save them for when they are most needed like bedtime, or when no other remedies are working.
- Homeopathic teething remedies: teething drops, tablets, gels, and ice pops are available. However, the medical field is divided: some practitioners feel the risks of homeopathic treatments outweigh any potential benefits, while others believe they can safely and effectively manage teething pain without subjecting the child to risk from pharmaceuticals.
- Distraction: something as simple as a change of scenery or activity is all it takes to help distract babies from teething pain, even if only temporary.
- Placing anything in a baby’s mouth can lead to choking.
- Frozen objects placed directly into a baby’s mouth may result in burns.