All babies go through the teething process. It involves the eruption of teeth through the gums, which, as one can imagine, can be quite a painful process for a baby. While the process can start at the age of 2 months, for most babies that first tooth doesn’t start poking through much before the age of 6 months.
Whenever it starts, one thing is for sure: The process is unpleasant for you and your baby. Many parents find themselves awake all night with a crying baby, not entirely sure how they can soothe the pain and irritation that their baby is experiencing. For many parents, the months of their children’s teething can cause sleep deprivation, which can impact everything from work to relationships to health and general wellbeing.
How to Know if Your Baby Is Starting to Teethe
Before you consider teething strategies to help soothe your baby’s sore gums, you should first determine if they are indeed going through the teething process. Contacting your pediatrician is always the safest option if you are in doubt (as some symptoms may indicate a more serious problem). Fortunately, there are a couple of symptoms you can look for to verify if teething is the cause of your child’s restlessness. Signs that you may notice during this time include:
- Drooling is one of the first signs that your baby is starting to go through the teething process.
- In some cases, a rash may develop on your baby’s face. This is usually caused by excessive drooling.
- Your baby may have difficulties sleeping and may lay awake in his crib for extended periods of time at night or at times when they would usually sleep.
- Irritability and fussiness are very common in a teething baby.
- Refusing food is also common sign, usually caused by swelling and sensitivity of your baby’s gums.
- You may notice that your child is rubbing their ears or face.
- Some babies may try to chew and bite on anything they can get their hands on.
- Lastly, you may also start to see teeth growing in.
While these are the general signs of teething, it is also important to know when to call your doctor before proceeding with any steps to relieve the discomfort. There are three specific scenarios when calling your doctor is advised. In these scenarios, the symptoms described above may be present but may be accompanied by:
- a high fever
- signs other than those listed above
- baby shows signs of extreme discomfort
How to Help a Teething Baby Sleep
When you have confirmed that your baby is teething, there are a few things you can do to provide relief for your baby’s pain, irritation, and other symptoms. Try each one—as some may work better than others.
Among the best ways to provide relief for irritated and sore gums in your teething baby are:
- Thoroughly clean your hands and then use a finger to apply gentle pressure to your baby’s sore gums. The rubbing action is thought to provide some relief from the discomfort. You can also use a gauze pad that has been moistened.
- As we mentioned, drooling is one of the very first symptoms of teething. Drooling can cause skin irritation, so experts advise keeping a cloth around to wipe away the drool. This helps reduce the risk of your baby developing a rash from the constant drooling. You can also apply lotions or creams that are face and baby friendly. These help reduce dryness, providing even further relief and/or prevention of skin irritation.
- Another great way to relieve some of the irritation and pain is to apply something cool to your baby’s gums. It is critical to understand that you should not give your baby something frozen. Instead, you can put a teething ring in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes. It should not be too cold—just cool enough to relieve some of your baby’s discomfort.
- If your baby is at the right age for it, feeding them hard foods, such as a carrot or a cucumber, is also a good strategy. Allow your baby to chew on the food to relieve some of the pressure. You can also chill the food for a few minutes prior to giving it to your baby. And always be sure to keep an eye on them while eating hard foods.
- There are certain over-the-counter teething and pain relief medications that you can try, but be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before administering any of them to your child.
Teething can be a really uncomfortable process for both babies and parents. While teething is definitely unpleasant, it is a critical part of infant development. Fortunately for parents, there are a number of strategies that can help your baby experience some relief from the painful symptoms while also giving you the ability to experience a peaceful night’s sleep.