Every child teethes differently. Some may get through it quickly and relatively pain free and others may tear the house down! This can be hard for your baby and also for you.
Here are some commonly asked questions and answers to help you combat the teething stage as stress free as possible:
1. What is teething?
A baby’s teeth start developing when they are in the womb. The term “teething” is when these teeth push up and through the gums. It can be painful and irritating for your child as the teeth erupt.
2. When do babies teethe?
Most babies teethe within their first year. The first tooth normally comes in at around six months. With some children, their teeth can push through in a matter of days and others may show signs of teething but you might not see a tooth for months. Don’t worry if your child hasn’t got their first tooth by six months. Late teething is normal too. Each child is different and they develop at different speeds.
3. What are the teething symptoms?
Some symptoms may last for a few days but if lots of teeth are coming through together, then these symptoms could last for months. It is common for most babies to experience some degree of discomfort and the level of discomfort differs with each child.
If you notice your child has any of the following, they are most likely to be teething:
• Painful, swollen gums
• Drooling and dribbling a lot
• Redness where it looks like the tooth is coming through
• Discomfort while eating and refusing food
• Chewing on objects
• Rubbing their face
• Red cheeks
• Having trouble sleeping
4. How long does teething last?
Most babies have all of their milk teeth by around 3 years. Teething normally goes on for about a year but can sometimes last longer with some children. Rest assured, the early stages are normally the worst and after they have a few teeth through, the irritability settles down.
Most children get their molars (the big teeth at the back) through at around a year old. This can be particularly unpleasant for them and for some children (and their parents), is the worst part of the teething phase.
5. How can I help my teething baby?
No parent wants to see their baby suffer. It can be a difficult phase for both of you but you must remember that we have all been through it and it is just a natural process in a child’s life. Here are a few tips you can try to ease the teething pain:
• PLAY. One of the best things to distract pain is playing. It helps your child take their mind off things.
• GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO CHEW. During the teething stage, babies will literally put anything in their mouth to chew on. This can be dangerous so it is a good idea to give your baby something of your choice for them to chew on. You can get great teething rings which you can cool in the fridge (soothing for baby’s gums). Many people believe you should put them in the freezer, but this can damage your child’s roots when chewing. You can make the teether cool but not frozen. You can also give your child snacks to nibble and chew on. Try giving food like rusks, dried biscuits, sliced apple and raw carrot. Don’t leave your baby unattended though when they are eating.
• KEEP THEM CLEAN. Excessive dribbling and drooling can irrigate your child’s face. It is important to gently wipe away the saliva with a clean cloth as much as you can before the irritation results in a painful rash.
• BRUSH. You can start brushing your baby’s new tooth with a good fluoride paste.
• RUB THEIR GUMS. Rub a clean finger gently, but firmly over your babies sore gums to temporarily ease the pain.
• APPLY GEL. You can get some fantastic teething gels from the pharmacy which you apply to the gums. Most of them contain anaesthetic and antiseptic to reduce the pain.
• PAINKILLERS. If your baby is really suffering, it is a good idea to take them to the paediatrician and ask for some advice. They might prescribe a small dose of painkiller specifically used for babies. Don’t self medicate until you have consulted with the doctor first.
• HUGS. You can’t always take away the pain but you can offer comfort and support. Let your child know you are there for them and you understand what they are going through. Lots of love and warm hugs at this time is what your baby needs.