HOW TO SOOTHE A TEETHING BABY
January 10, 2023
Walking, eating solid foods, talking, and laughing are all fun and exciting milestones. Teething? Well, that can be a different story. Most parents are more than a little afraid of teething because it can strike just as you start to recover a sense of normalcy.
However, when you’re equipped with the right tools, approach, and knowledge, teething doesn’t need to be a massive disruption. Join us as we walk through some of the tops tips for how to soothe a teething baby and general information on the most common teething age, and much more.
What is the Most Common Teething Age?
We say it all the time, but every baby is different and their development schedules vary widely. For most kids, teething will start to occur between 5-7 months of age. Some babies will start much later, however - and that’s not a problem at all.
Teething doesn’t happen overnight, and it can easily last several years, to many parents’ frustration. It’s impossible to know exactly when teething will end, but a significant majority of kids will have most of their teeth grown in by 3 years old.
How to Tell if Your Baby is Teething
There are some clear signs that your baby is starting to teeth. If your unsure exactly what is causing your baby to be extra cranky, check for some of the symptoms below:
- Drooling excessively (e.g., more than normal).
- Crying or fussing continuously, even after feeding, naps, and playtime.
- Putting toys or fingers in their mouth.
- Rubbing their jaws or ears.
- Temperature increases, without the presence of other fever symptoms.
If you notice one or more of these signs, it’s likely that your baby has started teething.
How can you be sure? Double-check!
It’s too hard to try and look in their mouth while your baby is crying. Instead, try taking your pinky or index finger and running them over your baby’s gums to detect any protrusions. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before checking for teeth.
It’s easy to confuse teething symptoms with signs of a cold and flu, and this is a common mistake. If you suspect that your child is teething but you aren’t sure, try monitoring their temperature for a full day. If it continues to climb, or if notice the clear presence of other cold symptoms then you might want to speak with your doctor.
However, if your baby continues to play like normal (especially if teething toys seem to ease symptoms) then you can probably rest easy.
How to Soothe a Teething Baby
There are many opinions and recommendations on exactly how to soothe a teething baby. We’ve curated some of the top recommendations according to childcare experts and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for safe, healthy approaches and treatments to avoid.
In general, the AAP recommends using all-natural methods of easing teething discomfort rather than starting with medications or toys. Here are some of their top ways to help your child when the discomfort strikes:
- Give them extra attention and help distract them from the discomfort with their favorite music, books, and toys. If they’re having trouble napping, consider holding them until they’re asleep or as they nap.
- Manual massages are another great homeopathic way to relieve pain. You can easily use a clean finger to gently press on the affected gums, causing temporary relief. Doing this several times a day can help keep your child comfortable.
When natural methods don’t seem to work anymore, there are some safe and proven approaches that work well when you’re wondering how to soothe a teething baby, including baby teething toys.
- Use an approved pain medication like Tylenol for infants. This might be especially helpful if your child is also experiencing fever symptoms in conjunction with teething pain. Be sure to strictly follow the rules for proper dosage size and frequency.
- Introduce baby teething toys. Specially-designed toys made with chemical-free plastic or rubber can help your child self-massage their gums. Itzy Ritzy makes adorable teething mitts that easily slide over your baby’s hand. This design allows your child to chew on the silicone teether for as long as they like (with a delightful crinkling sound) while the mitt protects them from scratching their face and drooling all over their fingers.
- If you’re tired of constantly bending down to pick baby teething toys up off the floor, try a child-safe teething necklace like the one from Chewbeads. The bright colors will engage your child while the soft, toxin-free silicone beads gently massage their gums. The easy breakaway clasp keeps your baby safe if they pull on the necklace, or if it gets twisted.
- Try chilled or frozen baby teething toys. Make sure that frozen material isn’t going directly against your child’s gums (unless it’s designed to be safe for this type of use). Otherwise, you risk causing freezer burn on sensitive gums. This Sophie La Girafe teether toy from Callison is perfectly designed to allow your child to hold the toy while getting the cooling, gel-filled teether in their mouth. The fun design and textured teething portion will make this a go-to toy once those pearly whites start to pop through.
Watch out for a common condition that occurs when your baby starts excessively drooling, known as “drool rash.” You may start to notice redness and irritation around your baby’s mouth, or even on their cheeks and neck. The bacteria in their drool can irritate skin and, over time, this can become quite uncomfortable.
To fight the effects of drool rash, keep the area around their mouth clean and dry. If the irritation persists, try applying a skin cream or balm to their mouth to keep moisture at bay and promote healthy skin.
Baby Teething Toys and Medications to Avoid
There’s a lot of conflicting information about parenting and infant care. However, most experts are clear in their agreement on some of the teething treatment approaches that you should avoid if possible. If you feel that your child is experiencing an especially severe bout of pain and discomfort, consult your pediatrician or family doctor for more ideas and advice.
Avoid over-the-counter medications that have not been approved or recommended by your family doctor for use with an infant. This includes but isn’t limited to the following ingredients: lidocaine, benzocaine, and belladonna.
I know from experience that when your child is in pain you would do just about anything to provide even a momentary reprieve. However, while these pain relievers are marketed as powerful and safe, they are not formulated for infant consumption. Even small amounts of these chemicals can cause complications that result in SIDS or long-term health problems.
Conclusion on How To Soothe A Teething Baby
Even when it feels difficult and your sleep has been disrupted, remember that teething also means the arrival of fun new abilities, including the start of solid foods. Teething is an important, necessary part of your baby’s development and you’ll enjoy introducing all kinds of new foods to their diet in the coming months.Once teeth start to fully arrive and you’ve figured out how to soothe your teething baby, you’ll probably start to wonder about proper oral care. When should you start brushing? How often should you brush? We help you get a jumpstart on infant and toddler oral care in our full article on when to start brushing your baby’s teeth.