Teething refers to the process in which an infant’s first set of teeth start emerging through the gums. These teeth are often known as ‘baby teeth’ or ‘milk teeth’, usually arriving in pairs.
Generally, teething begins between 6 and 8 months of age, and it can take up to 2 years for all the teeth to come through.
For some babies, teething may cause no problem at all, but it can create a lot of discomfort and pain for many.
Some signs and symptoms of teething are swollen and tender gums, excessive dribbling, slight fever, fussiness, difficulty sleeping, crying, tendency to bite on things, red cheeks, earaches and mild diarrhea, to name a few. Some may even refuse to eat or breastfeed.
Teething babies can be difficult to handle, but you can help ease your child’s discomfort. There are many simple strategies as well as home remedies that can make the teething process easier for your little one.
Here are the top 10 ways to treat teething discomfort in babies.
1. Chilled Carrots
If your baby has started eating solid foods, a long piece of chilled carrot can be offered. The cold temperature will help soothe gum pain and the sweet carrot juice will make the baby full.
Chewing on hard carrots also will put pressure on the sore gums, which will provide relief.
- Peel and wash a large carrot. Chill it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes then give it to your baby. Make sure to keep a close eye on your baby, as any pieces of the carrot that break off might pose a choking hazard.
- In addition to carrots, you can offer your teething infant a piece of chilled cucumber, celery or apple.
Note: Do not give your baby anything that is frozen, as with extreme cold can be harmful.
2. Massage the Gums
Sometimes, a simple massage of the sore gums helps a lot in easing a teething baby’s discomfort. Gentle pressure helps reduce pain and calm the fussy baby.
- Use your clean finger or a moistened soft washcloth to rub your baby’s gums for a few seconds. The baby may resist in the beginning, but soon he or she will start feeling better.
- Also, massage the baby’s face and jaw area in a circular motion.
The herb chamomile can help ease teething discomfort in babies older than 1 year of age. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help relax the painful nerves. It even helps calm an upset stomach.
- Steep ½ teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers in 1 cup of hot water. Strain and give your child 1 teaspoon of this tea every hour or two.
- Mix 4 or 5 drops of chamomile essential oil in 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Warm the mixture in your hands, then use it to massage your baby’s jaw and around the ears. Repeat a few times daily.
4. Vegetable Juice Pops
Vegetables such as carrot and beetroot are good for babies. These vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce gum pain and irritation. Plus, carrots and beetroots help strengthen your baby’s immune system.
- Extract the juice of a few carrots and beetroots to get 1 cup of each juice.
- Mix the juices together and pour into ice pop molds that come with handles.
- Put them in the refrigerator to freeze.
- Remove the vegetable juice pops from the mold and give to your baby. The sweetness of vegetable juice and the cold temperature of the ice pops will help calm your baby.
To calm your fussy baby, try foot reflexology. It can be effective in soothing the baby as firstly, babies respond well to touch and secondly, certain pressure points on the feet help alleviate tooth pain and promote better sleep.
For teething babies, massaging the top of the foot, specifically the toes can provide some temporary relief.
- Rub some warm oil on your baby’s foot.
- Apply gentle pressure on the toes (at the bottom) with the help of your thumb.
- Finally, give a nice massage to the whole foot.
- Do this for no longer than 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice a day.
6. Arrowroot Cookies
Arrowroot cookies can also help alleviate teething symptoms. Being rich in starch, arrowroot helps treat a fussy tummy, a common problem in teething babies. Arrowroot is allergen-free and safe for small babies.
Plus, babies can chew on a hard arrowroot cookie for a long time without breaking it into little pieces.
To calm a fussy baby, offer him or her an arrowroot cookie.
Applesauce is one of the first foods that many babies eat and can be helpful for teething infants who are experiencing mild diarrhea, a common symptom. The pectin in apples helps in the formation of stools to prevent loose stools.
- After washing an apple, remove the core and peel off the skin. Then, cut it into small pieces.
- Put the apple pieces in a saucepan with enough water to cover the apples and bring it to a boil.
- Tur down the heat and let it simmer until the apple pieces are soft and tender.
- Puree the cooked apple pieces in a blender.
- Chill the applesauce in the refrigerator before feeding it to your baby.
Cold applesauce is more comforting to a teething baby than warm. You can also try frozen bananas.
8. Clove Oil
For children age 1 year or older, you can use diluted clove oil to treat sore gums. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of clove oil help reduce inflammation and pain.
You don’t need to buy a bottle of clove oil. You can make your own using whole cloves, which many people often have on hand.
- Put 1 tablespoon each of extra-virgin coconut and olive oils in a pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon each of dry chamomile flowers and whole cloves.
- Heat it on low for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain out the cloves and chamomile, and allow it to cool.
- Massage the solution onto your baby’s gums as needed.
Always test the solution on your own gums first to make sure it to not too strong for your baby.
Breastfeeding offers sheer comfort to fussy babies. The process of sucking comforts them and even distracts them from the pain. In addition, breast milk provides a unique balance of nutrients that help babies recover faster.
Breastfeed your baby more often when he or she is experiencing teething discomfort. If your baby feels tempted to bite during nursing, try different positions.
You can even use your clean finger to briefly massage your baby’s gums before beginning and ending the nursing session.
10. Over-the-Counter Teethers
A teether can be comforting for your baby to gnaw on. When a baby bites down on the teether, it helps relieve the pressure under the gums.
Avoid any products that contain toxic ingredients like BPA (Bisphenol A), PVC (Polyvinyl chlorid) or phthalates that can be harmful.
Opt for a teether made of silicon or wood, which are safe for babies. Also, choose one that is inviting and easy for your baby to hold.
To enhance its soothing powers, chill the teether in the refrigerator (not freezer) for 15 to 20 minutes before giving it to your baby.
- To help distract your baby from teething pain, take him or her for a short stroll.
- At times, running a warm water bath also helps relax a baby.
- Excessive drooling is part of the teething process and it can cause skin irritation. Keep a clean cloth handy to dry your baby’s chin. You can also apply a water-based cream or lotion on your baby’s face to prevent skin irritation.
- When your baby’s first teeth appear, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the teeth. You can also use a clean, wet towel to clean the teeth to prevent any buildup of bacteria.
- If nothing helps, visit a dentist.