Natural Ways to Relieve your Teething Baby
At around 4-8 month of age a baby's first teeth, known as their milk teeth, start to come through. Some babies can get through teething with no discomfort at all, for other there can be a lot of pain.
At around 4-8 month of age a baby's first teeth, known as their milk teeth, start to come through. While some babies can get through teething with next to no discomfort at all, for other babies there can be a lot of pain. A baby's milk teeth do not cut through the gum, in fact chemicals are released within the baby's body, which cause the cells in the gum around the tooth to die and separate, allowing the new tooth to emerge.
The first teeth to come through are usually the bottom two front teeth, followed closely by the top two front teeth - though for some babies the central incisors (on either side of the top front teeth) can cut through before the front top teeth - this is known as cross cutting. Usually the next to come through are the bottom incisors. By a child's first birthday they will typically have anywhere between 4-8 teeth, but do not be concerned if you child has more or less, as all babies teeth at different rates.
After their 1st Birthday the first molars start to come through, followed by the canines at around 18 months, with the back molars (also know as '2 year old molars') coming through any time between 18-30 months. By the time a child is 2 1/2 - 3 years old they will have their full set of milk teeth.
There are many, and varied symptoms of teething. Your child may show only one or two symptoms, or the whole range. The milk teeth sometimes move up and down under the gum, so teething symptoms can present themselves for a couple of months before any teeth actually emerge. Once the tooth has emerged through the gum the pain and discomfort should normally stop.
The most common sign of teething is that your baby will want to put everything in their mouth and chew, chew, chew, as pressure relieves the pain caused by teething.
- Your baby may have a raised body temperature - but never a fever! Always consult a doctor if you baby is running a fever.
- Your baby may have red, rashy cheeks that are warm to the touch.
- Your baby's gums may be red, swollen or even appear to be bruised.
- You may find that your baby is dribbling excessively, which may cause a rash on the chin and neck (due to the acidic saliva produced during teething.)
- Your baby may have a poor appetite - and be reluctant to eat solids, or may go on a nursing strike during teething. This is because sucking causes more blood to rush to the swollen gums, making them more sensitive and painful.
- Your baby may be restless and more irritable than normal.
- Your baby may have very loose motions, again due to the over production of acidic saliva. If your baby has persistent diarrhoea always consult a doctor.
- Your baby may have nappy rash (also associated with the increased production of acidic saliva.)
- You may find that your baby's teething symptoms appear to be worse during the night - this is because the blood pressure naturally drops during the night, causing more movement of the tooth through the gum.
- Older babies may pull on their ears, especially when the molars are coming through, as when your baby experiences pain from teething, it can sometimes travel to his ear or cheek due to a shared nerve. Always be sure to see a doctor to rule out ear infections.
Teething toys and things to chew on.
Toys made specifically for teething are a great option, as they are usually shaped in a way that is easy to hold, and are made of a texture that is satisfying and effective in easing the discomfort in a baby's gums. Try to avoid teething toys made of PVC, as while some phthalates are banned in the use of teething toys within Europe, unmonitored levels of lead, BPA and Organotins are used as stabilisers in PVC, which all pose potential heath risks. Try opting for teething toys made of natural materials such as naturally treated wood, natural rubber (Natural Rubber Ducks, Sophie the Giraffe) or fabric (Cuskiboo).
For older babies, relief can be found from chewing on chilled pieces of raw fruit and veg e.g. apple, carrot, cucumber etc. Always make sure you monitor your baby with these, as they can easily break a piece off and choke.
Cold water offered to your baby in a sippy cup or bottle can help sooth your baby's sore gums, and may help with excessive dribbling.
Massage your baby's gums
Teething pain is caused by the pressure of the new tooth pushing up through the gum. By putting gentle pressure on the gum, the pressure and pain caused by the new tooth can be alleviated. You can massage your baby's gums gently with your finger, which will not only relieve the pain, but will also improve circulation of blood in the gums which helps the new tooth to push through. You can try using a small amount of clove oil on you finger as you massage your baby's sore gums as this can have a numbing effect on the gums. Carefully limit the amount of clove oil you use, as to much can upset your baby's stomach.
One common remedy for the pain of toothache and teething is letting your infant chew on a natural licorice stick (the herb, not the confectionery!) You can find natural licorice in health food stores: real licorice feels cool and also numbs the gums when your baby chews on it.
Homoeopathic and herbal remedies are a safe, non-toxic way to help relieve the pain caused by teething in your baby. These small sachets of teething powder are widely available from the chemist, with many of the larger chemists having there own brand teething powders and granules. The contents of these can range largely from brand to brand, and many contain ingredients such as Chamomilla and Belladonna. The teething powders commonly come in small sachets that you are advised to pour into baby's mouth, but try what I do - dip your finger in the powder and massage it into your babies gums, as many have a mildly numbing affect on the gums. My favourite which I have had huge success with are the Ashton and Parsons teething powders which contain tincture of Matricaria
Keep painkilling medicine & teething gels as a last resort
Many parents overlook the fact that generally, teething gels contain a range of chemicals that although in the short term can assist with teething discomfort it is thought that the actual relief comes from massaging the gums and not the gels themselves. Most gels contain a mixture of chemicals such as lignocaine, tannic acid, menthol, thymol and glycerol, and in some cases up to 40% ethanol. Whilst all of these are relatively safe in small doses they can be harmful if used excessively. If you do opt to use teething gels, you should make sure that you use a teething gel specifically designed for teething babies and not a general oral pain relief gel, as these sorts of gels are not suitable for children. If you are breast-feeding, you should avoid using them immediately before a feed as they can numb your baby's tongue making it hard for her to latch on and suck successfully. They might also numb your areola (the dark skin around your nipple) making feeding difficult for both of you.
If your baby is in pain, as a last resort you may want to give them a painkilling medicine which has been specifically designed for babies. These medicines normally contain a small dose of analgesic (painkilling medication), such as paracetamol, to help ease any discomfort. Always consult a pharmacist or doctor before giving medications such as this to you baby. Because a baby's small organs are still growing and developing, it is more difficult for them to process the chemicals in painkillers, so it is always wise to use them very sparingly, when everything else has been tried, and not to rely on them solely to get through a child's teething.