So your baby has hit one of the bigger and more painful milestones on the development road: teething. It’s not uncommon for babies to scream for what seems like hours due to the hurt of semi sharp solid objects pushing up through tissue filled with nerve endings. In fact, teething is probably one of the more difficult things your child will endure during his or her first years of life.
IS MY BABY TEETHING OR JUST CRANKY?
Here are some of the signs that your baby is in fact cutting teeth and ways to handle each:
- Drooling. This is a big one. My little boy soaked through any number of outfits when he first started teething. He still goes through any number of them on a rough day. It’s time to keep a ton of extra outfits on hand. A soaked shirt can make for an even crankier baby.
- Chin or face rash. This is usually a result of the excessive drooling. Do your best to keep up with baby’s drool marathon by having either a burp cloth or other type of soft, dry linen on hand to clean him or her up.
- Coughing. Of course, now that baby’s drooling more there’s a chance that he or she will be coughing or gagging on the excess fluid. Don’t freak out if you hear a cough here and there so long as baby doesn’t have a stuffy nose, fever or other signs of a cold.
- Biting. For you breastfeeding mamas out there, look out. Your little one will now be starting to do what my husband and I so fondly call “gumming”. Any part of you he or she can get into their mouth they will “gnaw” on, including those super-sensitive nipples. With that also comes chewing on fingers. This isn’t exclusive to breastfeeding mamas either. The bonier the finger, the better. The texture is similar to an ice cube wrapped in a washcloth and babies love it. Pressure on the gums slows blood flow to the nerve endings in the gums and thus creating a numbing effect of sorts. Chilled teethers work with some babies but not all of them. For our little one, we used fingers and a mesh feeding toy stuffed with an ice cube. Another thing that works with some babies is a cold, wet washcloth. They gnaw on the corner and it creates the same effect as the finger.
- Pain.This one is more difficult to assess, though many mothers are so in tune with their little ones that they can distinguish a pain cry from a hungry cry. One good visual sign is violent thrashing. They’ll kick and scream like they’re being tortured. The best solution for this is baby teething gel applied no more often than every 15 minutes or liquid baby tylenol in the correct dosage (talk to your pedi) every 4-5 hours.
- Irritability.Heads up because your little one is very likely to be super crabby. Wouldn’t you be, too? The best you can do is treat the other symptoms and take breaks when you need to. If you’re getting too upset, don’t feel bad about putting baby in his or her bed and walking away for a couple minutes to get control of that sudden urge to scream or cry. Don’t be afraid to let the tears flow if you feel too out of control to regain control. Get it out and you’ll be more able to focus on soothing little one.
- Refusal to Feed.Now this one might scare a lot of you first time moms out there who aren’t familiar with teething babies. Yes, they might refuse food. It’s not because they’re sick or because anything is wrong–well, beyond the obvious. While they crave something to soothe them, including breastfeeding or a bottle, the suction can put pressure on already inflammed and sore gums, thus it will be more difficult to feed them. If you feel your baby isn’t eating enough, it’s very important to keep them hydrated in some way. You can offer pedialyte, but that still requires them to suck from a bottle. One solution that might create less pressure on their gums in pediapops. These will keep them hydrated if they refuse food.
- Diarrhea.Though this isn’t unanimous among physicians, some parents swear that their babies have more loose stools when teething. I myself have noticed this with my son. He’s seven months old and teething big time. Though it could be due to him eating rice cereal in his bottles, the teething is also a possible cause.
- Low-grade fever. This is another symptom that doctors don’t have a definitive answer on, but as with infection in other part of the body, inflammed gums can cause this as well. A low-grade fever is defined as a temperature lower than 101 degrees farenheit taken rectally. This is usually nothing to get into a tizzy over as the same medicine you administer to your baby for pain can be used to keep his temperature under control. Cool wash cloths on his or her body and face can also help soothe them. However, if the temperature reaches a certain point (over 101 for babies up to three months and over 103-104 for babies over three months) consult your pediatrician.
- Interrupts their nighttime sleeping pattern. Be prepared because you might find yourself experiencing deja-vu as the pain and fever of teething has your baby waking up throughout the night seeking comfort. DO NOT RETURN TO NIGHTTIME FEEDINGS. I know it may be an easy way to soothe your baby’s pain, but it will also be a hard habit to break later on. Instead, try singing to baby and patting his or her butt or back.
- Gum Hematoma. This one can be a tough one, ladies. Basically, the process causes bleeding under the gums which appears in the form of a bluish lump. Don’t run baby to the emergency room as this often heals itself, though a cold compress will help it to heal faster.
- Ear pulling or cheek rubbing. While the explanation for the latter is more obvious, ear pulling can also be a sign. If you’ve ever had jaw pains for whatever reason that run up the side of your face to your ear, you understand what I’m talking about. What I’m sure you didn’t know is that gums, ears and cheeks share nerve pathways. Again, a cold compress might be able to help some of these pains. However, if you suspect there’s more to these symptoms than teething (usually a fever), talk to your pediatrician.
Some other methods to soothe your baby include rubbing his or her gums and chilling their food (bottles or purees, even yogurt). Another less orthodox method is brushing his or her gums with a wetted very soft baby toothbrush with no more than three rows of bristles and, if you wish, nonfluoridated baby toothpaste. This can keep baby’s gums and teeth healthy while giving him or her some relief from those painful teeth.
Good luck, ladies, and remember to be patient. Teething can be a long, painful process for both you and your baby, but in the end those pearly whites will come through and little one will be able to have even more fun with food!
5 Signs of Teething. What To Expect. 24-August-2102. http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/week-24/teething.aspx
Teething Symptoms. What To Expect. 24-August-2012. http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/teething/teething-symptoms.aspx