Nov 10, 2014
Hi there. I’m Lisa Clegg, author of The Blissful Baby Expert. I am a mum to three children aged 11, 8 and 3 years old and work full time as a nightly Maternity Nurse advising parents on care and development of their baby and implementing a gentle, yet effective routine. Life is busy, I never have enough hours in the day, but I’m happy and wouldn’t change a thing.With my own three children, supporting hundreds of mums in my job, plus 18 years as a Nanny and Nursery Nurse; I have worked with lots of teething babies and toddlers & would like to share my advice with you.
Lack of sleep and teething are two of the most widely discussed topics when you have a baby, and at some stage in the first 2 years, teething pain is likely going to cause some sort of issue with your baby’s sleep. Some babies cut teeth with relatively few signs or symptoms while others seem to suffer with every single one. The molars and canines are particularly painful in my experience, taking weeks of rumbling before they begin to cut.
Pain and crying are just one symptom of teething. There are various other signs that your baby is suffering from sore gums:
*More loose poos than normal
*A red, sore bottom
*Pulling at the ears
*Decreased appetite: refusing to drink her milk or eat solids
*Wanting to chew everything
*One or both cheeks being very red and hot to touch
*Generally whingy or unhappy
*Unexplained bouts of screaming hysterically which nothing you do seems to help relieve it
*Not sleeping well. Whinging or moaning in her sleep or waking up screaming
If your baby is showing at least three of the above signs then you can say with a fair amount of certainty that it is likely to be teething pain that is the problem. If your baby seems in pain but doesn’t show any of the above symptoms as well, then I would recommend that you talk to your doctor, pharmacist or health visitor for more advice.
Most adults will have experienced toothache or pain at some point in their lives, even if only with our wisdom teeth, but at least we understand and can self medicate accordingly!
A baby has no idea and the only way to let their parent know is to cry. For the majority of babies, teeth can take a long time to appear. They rumble in the gums, gradually pushing their way up before “erupting” (aptly named by dentists) and ‘cutting’ through the gums so that you can finally see and feel the sharp tip.
Teething can affect your baby in all sorts of ways:
*Refusing milk and/or solids because her mouth is too sore
*Irritable and bored easily with toys and activities
Her usual relaxed, happy, day to day personality may disappear completely when teething and you may have to deal with a grumpy, clingy baby, who refuses to eat and doesn’t want to let you out of her sight!
You can help soothe the pain of teething in various ways:
- Giving her things to chew on: you can keep teething rings and toys in the fridge or freezer to offer when needed
- Distracting her with play may help for short bursts
- Giving her a cold, damp flannel to chew on will give relief as the cold numbs the pain while the fabric gives a soothing massage as she chews it. Keep one in a plastic freezer bag in your freezer to keep cold and bring out when needed
- If your baby is already on solids, then offering cold foods like yoghurt or cool fruit purée will soothe sore gums
- Finger foods like carrot and various fruits can be chilled and placed inside one of the mesh feeders now available to buy from baby websites/shops.
- Sometimes rubbing her gums with a clean finger can also help: it massages and helps to soothe sore gums
- Giving your baby a cold sterilised spoon to chew on will also help relieve symptoms
- Lots of cuddles and TLC to reassure and comfort her
- A nice warm bath with a parent can help calm an upset baby down or a massage with some baby massage oil
There are various gels, liquids, powders and teething products on the market, as well as teething necklaces. You have to try several to find the right one/s to soothe your baby. What worked for your first baby may not help your second or third so be prepared to match the product to each individual. If your baby still seems upset and in pain, then you can give infant paracetamol or Ibuprofen once they are over 12 weeks old. In my experience Ibuprofen-based medicines are more effective on teething or any other type of pain, than paracetamol-based products.
A baby who is teething will not self soothe or calm herself down until the pain has stopped. During the day, sometimes teething is easier for your baby to cope with as there are lots of distractions in her environment. At night, lying in a quiet dark room, all alone, she has nothing else to think about apart from the rumbling in her gums, so she will wake up crying repeatedly. She may settle initially with a cuddle if it is just mild teething pain, but will likely be unsettled and wake on and off all night. With more severe pain she will be almost hysterical and crying even when comforted.
This is the time to try the teething remedies you prefer.
Many will take a good 20-30 minutes to take effect, particularly medicines like Ibuprofen or paracetamol, during which time you should sit and cuddle her to keep her calm.
Once you know she is no longer in any pain then you can encourage her to go back to sleep, but be prepared for quite a few unsettled nights when new teeth are cutting; particularly the molars and canines, which cause very bad pain and can affect eating habits for quite a few days too.
Unfortunately teething is one of those things that can go on for months, sometimes without a tooth even cutting to begin with and it is normal for a baby to suffer with teething pain or symptoms for 2-3 days and then be fine again for a few weeks. For most babies it does tend to come in spurts of a few days here and there.
All children are very different: some start to get teeth by 6 months; others are still toothless at 12 months (despite showing lots of teething symptoms). My middle son was actively teething every now and again from the age of 10 weeks but his first tooth didn’t appear until he was 14 months – I thought he would be gummy forever!!
I hope you have found this post helpful and I’m honoured that Ashton & Parsons asked me to be a guest blogger.
AL/1749/06.14/0.001. Date of preparation: July 2014.