10 Tips for baby’s terrible teething pains

Mar 3, 2014, 6:26 PM | Updated: 6:26 pm
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When babies teethe, the whole family suffers. Depending on the severity of the pain, you may be treated to everything from screams to wails to whimpers to sobs. The most terrible part is moms wish they could take that pain away from their babies and it just isn't possible. However, there are a few things you can do to dull their pain and perhaps give the whole household a little break.

1. Is it really teething? Don't assume that the baby is teething unless you've ruled out all other possibilities. Does he have a fever? Is he hungry? Does he have a diaper rash? Sometimes fussiness can be a sign of a more severe underlying problem. WebMD characterizes teething as, “Symptoms [that] usually begin about 3 to 5 days before the tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin,” so if the fussiness continues for longer than this, there may be another problem.

2. Keep a supply of frozen items on hand. You might have to try a couple different things before you find what your baby likes to chew on. A few ideas include a wet, frozen washcloth, cold fruit in a teething net, water-filled teething toys, or you could even freeze her binky.

3. Medicate with ibuprofen or Tylenol. However, anytime you give a baby younger than a year medicine, it's a good idea to check with your doctor first to find out what the dosage should be, the frequency and allergic reactions to look for.

4. Try teething tablets. These are tiny pills that dissolve almost instantly in your baby's mouth. You can use them frequently and they are made from homeopathic ingredients.

5. Give your baby a warm bath. The pleasure of splashing in the warm water will help distract her from her pain. Plus, teething can cause babies' noses to run, which may then irritate their nasal passages. The steamy water can help soothe those runny noses.

6. Apply counterpressure to baby's gums. Press with your fingers or a wash cloth on the inflamed gums or give him something hard to rub his gums on. The pressure helps relieve the pain.

7. Put on a bib. Teething is often accompanied by drooling, which will drip down baby's chin and neck and soak into her shirt. This constant dampness can irritate her sensitive skin, so dry her face frequently, use a bib and change her shirt throughout the day as necessary.

8. Protect yourself. When my son teethed, he seemed to think squeezing his gums while breastfeeding felt good. It didn't feel so good to me, and I was anxious to discourage him before the motion became a habit. So if your baby does this, detach immediately and give him something else to suck on. A cold baby bottle nipple or baby bottle filled with cold water will supply the soothing sensation he's looking for.

9. Distract baby. If baby gets bored, it's more likely she'll notice the pain in her mouth. Keep introducing toys or activities to her so she doesn't have a chance to think about it.

10. Be careful of frostbite. Don't let baby gum on cold or frozen things for too long or she may actually injure her gums. Either allow her to chew for just a few minutes at a time on frozen things or keep teething toys in the fridge, rather than the freezer.

When all else fails, remember this phase will pass. Sometimes there will be nothing that works. All you can do then is hold your baby, kiss him, love him, and be patient. Teething, like pregnancy, won't last forever, and you'll soon get your happy, smiley, loveable little one back again.

Katie Nielsen is an adjunct English faculty member at Brigham Young University – Idaho and mother of one. Contact her at nielsen.katiec@gmail.com

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10 Tips for baby’s terrible teething pains