Signs that your child is teething: They’re more cranky, clingy and weepy than usual, and they’re sleeping less. And that’s understandable, since they’re in pain and don’t know how to make it stop. Try these tips to ease your child’s pain and soothe them through the teething process.
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1. Rub baby’s gums. Wash your hands, and then give your baby a gentle gum massage. The pressure from your fingers counters the pressure of the teeth breaking through. It 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 lightly numb the gums and dull the pain.
3. Wear baby-safe (and baby-approved!) teething necklaces. Teething necklaces look stylish and give your child an easy-to-grab item to gnaw on. Check out our roundup of some of the most stylish teething jewelry.
4. Try teething sticks. Gerber has launched an edible, grain-based teether for kids to gnaw on for relief. Called the Soothe ‘N’ Chew, this teething stick is firm and long-lasting, with an air-bubble texture that massages gums. And it tastes like baby’s favorite food, bananas. For safety, be sure to supervise your child while they’re gnawing on it.
5. 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 or formula popsicles. Use BPA-free popsicle forms, like these from Nuby (above), and fill with either breastmilk or formula. Popsicles can get messy as they start to melt, so slip a bib on your babe and place them on a washable towel or blanket, or over flooring that can easily be cleaned.
6. Serve 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, stay close by to make sure the apple stays intact and no pieces break off, which could present a choking hazard. A frozen bagel works too.
7. Try different types of teethers. As you know, babies have preferences on lots of things, and teethers are no different. For shopping help, check out our list of top teethers, from wood and rubber options to teethers you can freeze for cooling comfort.
8. Wear your baby as much as possible. If your teething tot is clingy, strap them into a structured carrier like the Ergobaby 360 (above). They’ll feel comforted being close to you, and you can still get things done. Win-win.
9. Keep baby’s face dry. 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.
10. Freeze a wet, textured washcloth. Moisten a textured washcloth, wring it dry, and place in the freezer before giving it to your baby. Terrycloth or a ribbed texture will offer added relief by creating friction as baby gnaws on it.
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11. Administer meds. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as infant-formula acetaminophen, can take that edge off, especially when your little one is unable to sleep. But always consult your child’s pediatrician before giving your baby any medicine.
12. Refrigerate a small spoon. A spoon is 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.
13. Serve 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 more.
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14. Give your child a foot massage. Studies in reflexology have identified connections between toes and the head and teeth. Gently massage your child’s foot while focusing on the toes.
15. Offer extra cuddles. If you’re nursing, offer the breast more often than usual to ensure your baby is nourished and to provide additional comfort. Bottle feeding? Snuggle during and after feeding time.