From time to time, your baby will enter a difficult stage. When parents successfully overcome the challenges of early infancy, colic, and growth spurt, they face teething. How can you help your irritated baby?
Usually, teething begins when children are 5 to 10 months old (a month later for premature babies). But there are children who get their first teeth before they are one year old – it’s nothing to worry about. Teething is largely genetic. Perhaps ask the grandmothers if they remember when the parents of the baby got their first teeth. It’s quite possible that the child will be the same. If a one-year-old baby still doesn’t show signs of teething, consult with a paediatric dentist.
Born with teeth
Sometimes teeth appear much earlier. Very rarely, a newborn child arrives with a tooth or teeth, or a tooth cuts even a month after the birth. If that’s the case, check the baby’s mouth carefully and see whether the tooth moves, if it is safe for the child or does not hamper feeding.
A lot of parents wonder if teething may begin in the 3rd month. That’s when the baby begins salivating, sucking fingers, and biting toys. Usually, these are not the symptoms of teething. There is so much saliva in the little mouth that the baby isn’t able to swallow all of it and may cough or try to clear their throat. A wet chin, wet clothes… It’s a good idea to apply protective cream around the lips and put a bib on. If the baby explores different objects with their mouth, it means they are developing well – make sure their toys, such as flexible rings and light rattles, are clean and safe to use.
It’s the gums’ fault
When salivating and biting everything within reach is accompanied with the softening of the gums, it means you can expect teething. Usually, the baby becomes irritated, anxious, and wakes up more often. They may also lose their appetite. Sometimes, while biting a toy the baby freezes, cringes and begins to cry – it means it’s just hurt their delicate and sore gums.
Check the mouth, what the gums look like and take care to clean them. If under the mucous membrane you can see a bluish tinge, you’d better ask your paediatrician about it because it may mean a haematoma.
If white patches appear on the baby’s tongue, palate, lips or gums, consult with your paediatrician immediately. Most likely it is thrush and requires treatment of both mom and the baby. It is caused by yeast fungus, which “likes” to attack infants with lowered resistance. Moreover, six-month-old babies stop being protected by the antibodies they acquired during pregnancy, whereas their own immune system is not yet up to speed. If we add softened mucous membrane in the mouth and taking not always clean objects into the mouth, we have an increased infection risk.
In theory, teething doesn’t take long – a dozen or so days of an irritated baby and then a white tooth should appear in the mouth. In reality, it varies. Sometimes it’s clear that a baby is teething, then the symptoms go away, only to return some time later. Meanwhile the parents rack their brains whether the fussiness is a result of teething or if there is another reason. In fact, it easy to make a mistake, especially that teething may be accompanied with a fever, lack of appetite, stuffy nose, upper respiratory tract infection or light diarrhoea. And, of course, loads of unhappiness: from frequent crying to sleepless nights.
How can you survive this?
Below you’ll find a number of proven methods that help you and the baby survive the teething phase:
Massages Sore and itchy gums can be carefully massaged with a clean finger wrapped with a moist gauze pad. For moistening use boiled, cooled down water or a cold chamomile or marigold infusion. You can also use a dedicated silicon finger toothbrush resembling a soft, studded thimble. Clean it thoroughly or scald after use.
Teething rings. Some children feel better when they chew gel teething rings cooled down in a fridge (not a freezer!). Others prefer soft, rubber chewing toys, or just chew a towel or flannelette.
Soothing gel Apply a thin layer of teething gel to the gums before feeding and sleeping. Just be careful not to overdose.
Closeness The anxious baby needs their parents, their patience, hugs, familiar scent.
White noise Like in other situations when the baby is anxious and can’t sleep, Whisbear the Humming Bear may help. The soothing white noise produced by that aid reminds the baby of the sounds they heard in their mother’s womb. A CrySensor-equipped bear may be useful when the baby has problems sleeping and easily wakes up.
Spoon feeding If sore gums make breast feeding difficult for the baby, express the breastmilk (manually or with a breast pump) and feed the baby with a soft, silicon spoon.
Cool pulp An older infant can be fed with blended mush, soft baby cereals, best served cold.
Painkillers If you baby really suffers during teething, they can’t fall asleep or wake up all the time, when they’re tired, fussy, sore, with the temperature, you can use a paracetamol-based painkiller or an anti-inflammatory one (with ibuprofen).
A set of milk teeth
The teething period does not concern only the time when we wait for the very first tooth, usually the lower incisors. But the process ends with 20 milk teeth in the baby’s mouth. Usually upper and lower medial incisors cut first, then lateral incisors, first and second premolars, canines and finally molars. However, this order and the accompanying symptoms may vary. There are children whose incisors go through the gums almost painlessly and only when molars, teeth with a large area of crown, begin cutting does life become a misery. Throughout the entire teething period we can use the same methods to alleviate pain and anxiety. Usually, all milk teeth are in place when children reach 30th month.
The toothbrush song
It’s very important to take care of teeth even if the first tooth looks more like a rice grain than a real tooth. Clean the milk teeth after meals and especially before sleeping, when there is less saliva produced and the teeth are not rinsed so often. First with a clean, moist pad, then with a soft toothbrush for babies. There are special low-fluoride toothpastes for infants and little children available on the market. Such a small baby doesn’t know yet how to spit the paste out, so after brushing clean the teeth with a wet pad.
Teeth are especially damaged when exposed to sipping sweet drinks, drinking from bottle with a nipple or any sweets. We should really avoid these, but if you do allow your baby a little bit of sugar, always brush the teeth afterwards. Healthy milk teeth mean healthy permanent teeth.
And one other thing: protect your children from our bacteria. Don’t lick your child’s cutlery or pacifier, don’t drink from the same cup. Children usually get the cavity-causing bacteria as a “gift” from parents or family.