Of all the moments of new parenthood, standing by as your baby cuts a tooth for the first time can feel the most gut-wrenching. After all, when they are that small, our children can’t tell us how they feel. They can only communicate by tears—and boy, can there be a lot of them when teething time comes.
“I encourage parents to not overreact and to welcome teething as a normal process for babies,” said pediatrician Dr. Mona Amin. “Come up with a few go-to remedies for pain, but don’t panic when you see your child in discomfort. Sometimes staying calm and consistent is all a child needs.”
Signs Your Baby Is Teething
The teething process can present differently for every baby. Some may really struggle and others may seem to sail right through, surprising their parents with a new tooth they never saw coming. Dr. Amin explained that teething begins around 6 months and babies often take to gnawing on toys in an effort to soothe their sore gums. You may also find your little one drooling, mouthing everything in sight, giving in to fussiness, suffering sleep disruptions, and even developing a low-grade fever.
If you’re on the hunt for a sprouting tooth, just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t on its way. Dr. Amin said that you may be able to feel a slight bump or ridge when you place your finger on baby’s gums. In addition, you may see some redness and swelling.
How to Comfort a Teething Baby
Cutting a new tooth can be a painful experience. As parents, we want to do everything within our power to soothe our little ones and have the whole family get a good night’s sleep. But when it comes to teething, it turns out there’s a right way to offer comfort. Dr. Amin walked us through the dos and don’ts of caring for your teething baby.
- Tie a clean, wet washcloth to a baby-safe ring and pop it in the freezer for gnawing on.
- Pick up a silicone teething toy that offers various textures to soothe sore gums.
- Gently massage baby’s gum with a clean finger. “This can help when the tooth is starting to erupt,” Dr. Amin said.
- Once baby has started on solids, fill a fruit feeder with frozen purees for pain relief baby can control.
- Offer snuggles as needed!
- Understand that teething is a natural process in babyhood and that it’s OK for your little one to be upset. “Some teething days will be worse than others,” Dr. Amin said. “Consistency helps babies understand that they are safe and that the pain will subside.”
Shop a few teething products we love:
- Don’t purchase an amber teething necklace. These are a choking and strangulation hazard.
- Don’t apply oral gels containing benzocaine as these can be harmful to baby.
- Don’t administer homeopathic teething remedies containing Belladonna as these put baby’s health at risk. The Food and Drug Administration cautioned parents against their use in 2019.