It’s 3 AM and your baby’s fussing again. Restless and cranky, he’s drooling and rubbing his ears—yet he doesn’t seem at all interested in feeding. He just turned 6 months old, and lately he’s been a little easier to care for… until now. So what’s the problem—and what should you do?
If you’re guessing it could be a teething issue, you’re probably right. Your baby is showing some of the classic signs: irritability, excess saliva production (drooling), decreased appetite and disturbed sleep patterns. He’s in the right age range as well—while teeth can erupt (emerge from the gums) earlier than three months or later than a year, 6 to 9 months is a common age range for the teething process to get underway.
Teething is different for every baby, and most go through it without major discomfort. But just try telling that to anxious parents in the middle of the night! They may be tempted to use medications or folk remedies in the attempt to get the baby to settle down—but these “cures” usually aren’t necessary, and some can be harmful to the child’s health. What’s the best way to soothe a teething baby?
First, remember that teething is a natural process everyone goes through, as well as a milestone in baby’s development—and it doesn’t last forever. However, it can seem like an age to a fussy baby or a sleepless caregiver. Here are some gentle, effective methods that can soothe baby’s discomfort and let everyone relax.
Try giving the infant a clean rubber teething ring or a wet washcloth to chew on. Put it in the refrigerator for a while to chill, as cold can offer welcome relief to sore gums—but don’t put it in the freezer! Freezing objects can actually burn sensitive tissues if left in place too long. A regular soft pacifier can also be used. If using a washcloth, leave part of it dry so baby can grip it comfortably.
A gum massage may help too: Wash your hands, and then gently massage the inflamed gums with the tip of your finger. Soft pressure from outside can ease the pressure of the tooth pushing up from within, and can help relieve baby’s discomfort.
For children who are a bit older than your baby, you can try offering cold foods, like popsicles. But be aware that if they contain sugar, you should limit their use to mealtimes to avoid the problems associated with tooth decay. Children who regularly consume sugary foods (even fruit juice) are at risk for developing tooth decay, and even a condition called Early Childhood Caries (cavities), or ECC.
If teething pain is persistent and doesn’t respond to other treatments, you can try giving your baby an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. As with all medications, it’s vital that you check with a doctor or pharmacist about the correct dosage before use. The medicine should be swallowed, not rubbed on the gums, which could cause irritation.
Speaking of rubbing on the gums: You should never use any product containing an anesthetic or numbing agent (like Benzocaine) on a young child unless you have been specifically told to do so by a healthcare professional. And that old folk remedy of giving the child whisky to ease teething pain—just forget about it. Alcohol should not be given to young children under any circumstances.
Teething may be a trying experience for babies and their caregivers—but like many aspects of childhood, its time is fleeting. And, as in plenty of other situations, a little comfort given at the right time can go a long way. To learn more call one of our :DP AtYourService Customer Care Representatives at 1-800-238-5163.