Getting through Teething
Your baby is about 6 months old and suddenly she is drooling a lot!
You suspect she may be getting her first tooth, and you're probably right. She may be fussier than normal and have trouble sleeping. She may also be pulling her ears. A low grade fever (up to 100.9°F) is not unusual. Your baby may want to nurse or feed more frequently. These are all signs that her teeth are starting to come in.
Did you know that babies are born with their tooth buds already embedded in their gums? Some babies are even born with a tooth or two. And some babies may get a tooth as early as 3 months, although this is unusual. Most babies will get their first teeth sometime between 6 and 12 months. Teeth appear in a specific order. The lower two front teeth come in first. Then the upper 2 front teeth come in, followed by the side teeth and finally the molars. By the time your baby is 3 years old she should have all 20 of her pearly whites.
Teething is a stressful time for your baby and possibly for you as well. There are some things that you can do to make your baby feel better and cut her teeth with as little pain as possible.
Easing Teething Pain
All of that drooling can cause a rash on your baby's face. To keep this from happening, dry your baby's face with a soft cloth. You may want to keep a cloth tucked under his chin, so you are always ready to wipe.
To help ease the pain you can give your baby something cold to chew on. The pressure is a good distraction, and the cold reduces swelling.
Here are some tips to help ease the discomfort of teething:
- A medical grade silicone teething ring. Avoid the ones with liquid inside. They may break and leak
- If your baby is eating solids, you can feed him soft foods like applesauce or yogurt
- Frozen fruit in a feeder mesh bag, even for babies who are not yet on solids
- Offer a clean frozen wash cloth for your baby to chew on.
Some things to avoid giving your baby when he is teething:
- Avoid aspirin. It should not be given to anyone under 19 years old. It can cause Reyes syndrome which is a serious health issue.
- Avoid teething medications that contain the pain reliever benzocaine. It has been associated with a rare but serious condition.
- If you give your baby hard foods like Baby Zwieback, peeled carrots or frozen cucumbers, make sure you are watching him carefully. These can break off and become choking hazards.
If you feel that your baby needs medication to manage the pain of teething, be sure to talk to your pediatrician. She will recommend something that is safe and appropriate for your baby's age and weight. Note that a fever (higher than 101°F), vomiting and diarrhea are not symptoms of teething. If your baby is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it's time to see your pediatrician.
Start Good Gum Care and Oral Hygiene Early
You should start practicing good gum care long before teeth appear. You can massage your baby's gums when your baby is about a month old. Use a finger-sock-like baby toothbrush or a washcloth and gently massage your baby's gums with cold water. Massage for about 2 minutes. You do not want to use toothpaste until your baby is 3 years old and can swish and spit it out.
When your baby has 8 teeth in her mouth, she should have her first trip to the dentist. Your baby will be about a year old at this time. Starting oral hygiene early is an important. This will keep her first set of teeth healthy and also protect the permanent teeth from bacteria and decay while they are still forming.
Teething is another stage in your baby's development. Some babies have no symptoms and other babies have discomfort. Know that all those teeth will come in and your baby will be back to her smiley, happy self before long. And if she isn't eating solids, having a tooth or two is a sure sign that she is ready to start that adventure.
Now I'd like to hear from you. If you have any tips about getting through the teething phase, please leave a comment below.