Think your baby has another pearly white on the way?
1 Knowing his early warning signs really helps
Your baby won’t teethe in quite the same as any other baby on the planet. But play detective and you’ll be able to pinpoint what’s normal for him. While a tooth is on the way, he might make extra saliva, which means he may dribble or cough. And swallowing all that drool might mean you have a few choice nappies or an out-of-the-blue nappy rash to deal with. A warm or flushed cheek might be a clue, or he might not be as keen on drinking, eating or sleeping as usual. Perhaps he’ll pull at his ear, chew his fingers or bat his face. Some babies get clingy and some get cranky, others cruise through the whole thing with a big gummy smile.
2 Teething doesn’t cause a fever
There’s no evidence to link teething to fevers, so don’t attribute a raised temperature to his fangs and the same goes for diarrhoea. Ear infections can present a very similar stack of symptoms to teething. As a general rule, if you’d be worried by his symptoms if he wasn’t teething, see your GP.
3 Cold works
Keep a sealed tub of teethers in the fridge. If your baby is already weaned, pop a couple of pots of apple purée in there too for a gum-easing snack, and chilled cucumber sticks and bananas are also effective if he’s old enough to have these. Make your wn toddler-sized ice lollies from yoghurt or fruit pureés.
4 You need more than one type of teether
The type of pressure that eases the pain of a sharp little incisor might be very different from what works for a chunky molar. And what soothes a grumbling peg a month before it pops up won’t be the same as what helps the pang as it cuts through the gum. So buy a few teethers and let your baby experiment to find which one works for him right now. As well as teethers made from hard wood through to soft rubber, aim for flat, round, smooth and knobbly surfaces. Find a teether that features terry-towel fabric too and make sure there are different shapes so there’s something that will reach even if that troublesome tooth is right at the back of his little mouth.
5 Nothing works better than the crook of your little finger
First wash your hands thoroughly, then let him gnash away on it with his gums to relieve his discomfort. Think of it as sharing the pain.
6 It’s not only the tooth that’s about to come through that’s hurting
When your baby was born, the crowns of all 20 of his milk teeth were almost completely formed. So although you might not see his front teeth until they pop up in a few months, or those big-boy molars for another couple of years, they’re all busy growing. And the long process that forces them up or down from your baby’s jaw and out into his mouth would test the patience of a saint. So when you’re rubbing a clean finger on his gums to ease the pain, let him guide you as to where it hurts. And don’t dismiss that he’s teething when there’s not so much as a hint of a swollen gum, let alone a glimmer of white under the surface.
7 Use pain relief when you need to
If pressure isn’t enough to appease your teething baby, then your next step should be to reach for a sugar-free teething gel with a mild local anaesthetic to numb the pain. Make sure it’s one made specifically for infants, check the minimum age as brands vary, and stick to the recommended dose and frequency. Try homeopathic teething granules too: your baby will either love them or hate them, and it’s worth finding out which. If he’s still in pain, then a medicine made specifically for young children containing paracetamol or ibuprofen is a last resort, but don’t use this as a long term treatment—the rule is don’t give it for more than three days without seeing your doctor.
8 Comfort the way you know best
Cuddles with you on the sofa often win the top prize for soothing a teething baby. Motion takes the runnerup spot, so combining the two for a walk with your baby in a front sling can settle him like nothing else.
9 Control the things that you can
Teething can lead to other issues that add to his discomfort, but not if you get there first. All that dribbling can cause a rash on his chin, so smear on a barrier cream before it gets red. The same goes for protecting his bottom. Sucking as he drinks can trigger pain, so hunger can escalate the hardship too. So if you find him bobbing on and off your breast or the bottle, see if he finds it easier to drink facing the other way: just swap the arm you’re holding him with if you’re bottle feeding, or let him feed from both breasts on his most comfortable side by popping his body under your arm like a rugby ball to feed from the second boob. Or he might find it less painful to sip from a cup. If he’s weaned, be led by him if munching on something dry like toast brings relief or he can manage soft foods better.
10 Have teether friends
Emotional comfort alongside the physical works wonders, so invest in a tasty new best pal for your little one. MB