The teething fix
There’s nothing cuter than your baby’s gummy grin with one solitary pearly white peeking out. The journey to that point is, ummm, less cute. Make it easier with these new ideas to soothe your baby’s teething process.
1. Get hands on
Most of the time, a little bit of TLC is all that’s needed, so try very lightly rubbing your clean finger along your baby’s gums. When he is fairly relaxed, massaging his gums for two minutes will provide some soothing counter-pressure.
2 Try Vanilla
Pure vanilla extract isn’t just for bake-off moments – rubbing a drop into gums can work in two ways. “The massaging action eases pain, and the scent is calming, reduces anxiety and promotes wellbeing,” says teething expert Alexander Barani. Do check the ingredients, as some contain alcohol.
3 The chilly cloth cure
Freeze a clean wet facecloth, then let your baby chew on it – the cold eases pain. “The texture of the flannel will feel good on his gums, too,” says health advisor Penny Lazell. Put your baby in a bib to soak up any excess water and dribble. You can try different degrees of coldness to see what works best for him. If the frozen washcloth is too cold, just dampen one with cold water.
4 Gloves on
If your baby is very young when his first tooth starts coming through, he may struggle to hold on to a teething ring or toy, and resort to chomping on his fist. Try a Gummee Glove – a teething mitten that attaches to your baby’s hand with Velcro, and has soft plastic teething parts for him to chew on.
5 Don’t give up
When you’re dealing with a teething baby, perseverance is the key. “It requires patience, as well as some creativity,” says Barani. “It takes trial and error to find a solution that works, so keep testing new approaches.”
6 Get some teething bling
If your baby is constantly grabbing hold of your necklace, swap it for special teething jewellery, instead. “The Gumigem accessories range is made from non-toxic silicone, which is free from chemicals, such as BPA, PVC, lead, latex and phthalate,” says creator Jenny McLaughlan.
7 Watch out for amber
Amber teething necklaces have been around for thousands of years and it’s thought they have anti-inflammatory properties that can ease teething (thanks to the succinic acid the stone contains). But beware of necklaces with small beads on a string or elastic, which can snap easily. Always buy from a reputable source.
8 Flower Power
Camomile tea in your baby’s bottle is a safe and natural way to help him. “The soothing ingredients work wonders for babies who are stressed and unhappy, as it’s so calming,” says Barani. Steep tea for a few minutes, cool it to room temperature, then put 30 to 60 ml in his bottle.
9 Brush early
He may not have any teeth showing yet, but give your little one a soft baby toothbrush. He’ll love biting down on the bristles. Then, when his teeth do push through, cleaning them won’t be a battle as he’ll be used to the feeling.
10 Offer a Dummy
Every teething experience is different and, while some babies are comforted by breastfeeding, others find it painful – sucking can cause more blood to rush to swollen areas, making them extra-sensitive. A dummy can be a good idea between feeds, as he can suck or chew it.
11 Dish up Breakfast
If your baby has started solids, freeze a bagel or breakfast waffle and let him chew on it. “They’re soft enough for him to gnaw on, but also have a rough texture that your baby will enjoy rubbing along his gums,” says McLaughlan.
12 Walk it off
Fresh air can give your little one the relief he needs. Go for a walk and point out interesting flowers, animals or trees – it can be a good distraction.
13 The Yoghurt Trick
“When my baby refuses his breakfast because of teething pain, I put a dollop of yoghurt on top of every spoonful of his porridge,” says Charlotte Brazier, 34, from Port Elizabeth, who’s mum to Peter, 10 months. “He likes the cooling sensation.”
14 Serve up a cooler
Blend some fresh fruit purées and freeze them into ice lollies – these will also provide a nutrition hit. “Alternatively, fill a mesh feeder with frozen fruit – berries work well,” says Barani. “Gnawing on the frozen fruit will numb your baby’s gums and stop pain.”
15 Veg out
If your baby’s bored with fruit, try cold vegetable sticks. A large, peeled carrot straight from the fridge
is easy for your little one to hold and is great for back teeth, as well as the front. Cucumber sticks are also soothing.
If your baby has teeth already, keep a close eye on him to prevent choking.
16 Try an alternative
Acupressure works by massaging pressure points in your baby’s toes, feet, hands and face,
and can be used alongside any more traditional methods.
17 Make it metal
Using a metal spoon provides a hard, smooth surface to chew and suck. “If you put it in the fridge first, it’ll be super-soothing on your baby’s gums,” says McLaughlan.
18 Create a dribble barrier
Teething can mean your baby dribbles more, and the dampness can make the skin around his mouth red and sore. “Use a barrier cream or petroleum jelly to make sure the area stays moisturised and protected,” says McLaughlan.
19 Prepare yourself for bedtime
You may find your baby’s symptoms are worse at night but, while teething rings and hard foods are soothing during the day, they may make it more difficult for your tot to fall asleep. Instead, give him soft foods in the evening to ease irritation.
20 Homeopathic help
If you’re keen to try natural pain-relief methods, some mums swear by homeopathy. Look for remedies containing calcarea phosphorica.
21 Put a check on cheek dryness
Teething babies often develop red, dry cheeks, so apply a soothing oil to relieve them.
Know when he isn’t teething…
Some symptoms seem similar to the side effects of teething, but are actually unrelated and need to be treated. See your GP about any of these:
- High temperature – Anything above 38°C could be due to an infection, especially if it continues for more than 24 hours.
- Diarrhoea – If your little one is suffering from the runs and it continues for more than 24 hours, get him checked out.
- No appetite – Babies who don’t eat for more than 12 hours are likely to have an illness.
- Earache – If your baby is tugging on his ear, it could be a sign of an infection. However, it can also be sign that his molars are coming through, as the ear and the cheek share the same nerve.