When your baby is teething, and you’re going through the stages of teething, it can be tough not knowing what to do.
Many questions come to mind, like what if he stops chewing for a week or two? Can food allergies cause my baby doesn’t enjoy his food anymore? Will my baby have bad breath because of her teeth coming in now?
Like so many other things in life, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Here are some tips to help your baby through teething.
Signs Your Baby is Teething
If your baby is teething, you may notice a few signs. Wet cheeks from drool and more chewing on toys in the mouth are common. Some babies might get fussy, want to nurse more than usual, or wake up more at night.
You can also look for swollen gums and a red rash around the mouth. Some babies develop a fever when their teeth start coming in, but that’s not always the case. Here are some signs of teething to look out for:
- Chewing on things
- Gums that feel swollen
- A minor fever of 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit (rare)
How Long Does Baby Teething Last?
There is no set age for teething to begin because every child is different. However, most infants start teething between six and twelve months old. There are rare cases of early teething where babies can cut teeth as young as three months old or as late as fourteen months old.
There is also no set amount of time that teething lasts because it doesn’t stop until a baby’s teeth have all erupted through the gums. Teething may last up to three years in some children, but the average length is six to nine months.
During this time, your baby may go through several weeks or even months between cutting teeth. Once your baby has all twenty primary teeth, they will stop teething altogether, which means you won’t have to worry about it again until they get their permanent teeth at around age six or seven.
Use Teething rings and toys.
Your baby may feel relief by biting on something hard or cold. Try a rubber teething ring, a chilled washcloth, or a spoon cooled in the refrigerator (but not frozen).
When choosing a teething toy, make sure it’s soft and flexible, so your child doesn’t hurt himself if he falls while holding it. And be sure to choose one that’s BPA-free. Never tie a teething ring around your child’s neck or attach one to his crib — he could choke on it or become entangled in it if he rolls over while wearing it.
To soothe an older baby who can chew on solid food, try giving him a firm, unsweetened teething cracker to gnaw on. It also may help with drooling because your baby will swallow more saliva instead of dribbling it out as much as before.
A chilled pacifier or teething toy may provide extra soothing for your baby during the day (if you use pacifiers). Or try putting cooled boiling water from the tea kettle into ice cube trays and freeze them for homemade teething rings!
If your teething baby tends to grab whatever you’re eating and put it in their mouth, offer chilled foods such as applesauce or yogurt. You can also give frozen bananas, which some babies love.
You can also try cold liquids such as water from the refrigerator. Frozen fruit juice bars (made without sugar) are another option.
Don’t be surprised if your baby rejects solids during this time, even ones they usually enjoy. Most babies go through a stage where they lose interest in solids when they are around eight months old. It is called the “baby food strike.” It’s frustrating, but most babies come out of it within a few weeks on their own.
Rub your baby’s gums.
One of the primary side effects of teething is gum pain, and if you’ve ever had any experience with this yourself, you know that rubbing your gums can often provide good relief.
Your baby’s no different in this respect, so getting in there with a clean finger or—if your little one’s more averse to having fingers in their mouth—a wet gauze pad for a gentle massage may be all you need to give them some comfort.
(Bonus: This can also toughen up their gums for when their teeth start cutting through, so it’s worth doing on the regular even before they start teething.)
Several different medications are available over the counter and by prescription to help relieve pain. However, it’s important to remember that before giving any medication to your baby, you should always consult with your pediatrician. Even natural pain relievers like teething tablets or acetaminophen can be dangerous if not used properly.
For example, ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory drug widely available over the counter and in generic form. While it won’t cause harm when used properly for short periods as directed, ibuprofen can have serious side effects for infants who are given too much or for too long. Too much of this medication can cause kidney failure in babies, and some studies have even linked high doses of ibuprofen to childhood asthma or allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
Try a little white noise.
In a quiet room, do you hear the sound of your refrigerator humming? Is the heat turning on? The coffee pot beeping when it’s done brewing? These are examples of white noise. White noise can also be played through recordings, like using a fan or an app on your phone.
Babies are used to hearing white noise while growing inside their mother’s womb because there is constant background noise from the mother’s breathing and heartbeat. White noise can help calm and soothe babies by blocking out new noises in their environment and helping them sleep.
You could try using a humidifier for added moisture and white noise in your baby’s room. If you’re out of town or flying with your baby, downloading an app that plays white noise might be helpful to keep them calm too!
Teething can be very stressful for many parents. Still, it’s essential to realize that teething does not inherently mean your baby will cry inconsolably or suffer from explosive bouts of rage. Sometimes, teething is just a part of growing up.
Children go through spurts at various stages in their lives, including when they are teething. No matter how your baby behaves during these times, it’s always important to look for the signs that something is off before assuming the worst.
Andrea is currently the head of content management at SpringHive Web Design Company, a digital agency that provides creative web design, social media marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimization services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also a blog contributor at Baby Steps Preschool where she writes storytime themes, parenting tips, and seasonal activities to entertain children.