Your sweet and smiley baby has turned cranky, clingy and weepy? Blame teething. It’s tough—really, really tough—to watch your child suffer through the discomfort of cutting teeth. Read on for 14 tips to help you soothe your baby through the long teething process.
photo: bryan anthony via Flickr
1. Rub baby’s gums. Wash your hands, and then give your baby a little gum massage. The pressure, which will be counter to the pressure of the teeth breaking through, will feel good and offer your little one some relief from swollen gums.
2. Refrigerate a pacifier. Chilling a pacifier will make it even more soothing to your baby, and may even lightly numb the gums.
3. Make milk popsicles. Some babies and toddlers refuse to eat while teething, most likely out of discomfort. Keep your little one fed and hydrated while soothing those gums by making milk popsicles. Use BPA-free popsicle forms, like these from Nuby (shown above), and fill with either breastmilk or formula. Popsicles can get messy, especially as they start to melt, so slip on a bib and place your child on a washable towel or blanket, or over flooring that can easily be cleaned.
4. Trade out your jewelry for baby-safe (and baby-approved!) teething necklaces. And to think there was once a time where moms had to ditch necklaces entirely during teething. See our roundup of some of the best (and most stylish) teething jewelry.
photo: Steve Johnson via Flickr
5. Let baby gnaw on frozen apple chunks. Cut a large piece of apple, let it chill in the freezer for an hour or more, and offer it to your baby. As with all foods and toys that your child gums on, make sure the apple stays intact and no pieces break off, presenting a potential choking hazard. A frozen bagel also works well.
6. Try different types of teethers. Babies have preferences on lots of things, and teethers are no different. When their mouths are really aching, you want to give your child something they like and will really sink those gums into. Check out our list of top teethers, from wood and rubber options to teethers you can freeze.
7. Wear your baby as much as possible. If your teething tot is clingy, strap them into a structured carrier, like the Ergobaby 360. They’ll feel comfort by being close to you, and you can still get things done. Win-win.
photo: Jon Collier via Flickr
8. Keep baby’s face dry. While it won’t help those aching gums, wiping the waterfall of drool that comes with teething from your baby’s mouth, chin and cheeks helps prevent skin irritation, which can add to their discomfort.
9. Freeze a wet, textured washcloth. Moisten a textured washcloth, wring it dry, and place in the freezer before giving it to your baby. A plain washcloth will work, but terrycloth or one with ribbing will offer added relief by creating friction as baby gnaws on it.
10. Administer meds. An over-the-counter pain reliever, like acetaminophen, can help take that edge off, especially when your little one is unable to sleep. Always consult your child’s pediatrician before giving any medicine.
photo: Janet McKnight via Flickr
11. Refrigerate a small spoon. It’s something your child can hold on their own, chew on, push against their gums and even play with to distract themselves from the pain. Keep a few spoons in the fridge so you always have one at the ready. Those new teeth can really sneak up on you.
12. Serve baby chilled purees. Put pureed foods in the refrigerator prior to feeding your baby so the food is cool on their gums. It will feel nice and may encourage your child to eat.
photo: Germano Bisson via Flickr
14. Give your child a foot massage. Studies in reflexology have identified connections between certain spots in the foot and other parts of the body. The toes correlate with the head and teeth, so gently massaging your child’s foot around the toes may offer some relief.
15. Offer extra cuddles. If you’re nursing, offer the breast more than usual to ensure your baby is nourished and to provide additional comfort. Bottle feeding? Snuggle during and after feeding time.
How do you soothe your teething baby? Share your tips in a comment below.
— Jane Putnam