Teething… some babies breeze through it barely noticing the arrival of their new teeth…some babies…well they feel every part of every tooth! In my experience if your baby feels it then you pretty much do too 🙂 On average teething begins at six months of age. This can vary greatly as some babies are even born with teeth whereas some take over a year to cut their first one. The good news is that most babies will have a full set of milk teeth by the age of two and a half so whilst it may feel like it will go on forever I can promise it won’t! Teething early or even being born with teeth is not a problem really other than for two reasons. Firstly it can make feeding a little tricky and secondly you are extremely limited in what you can do to relieve your babies discomfort as pain relief such as paracetamol (Calpol, or paralink) or ibuprofen (Nurofen) is not suitable until three months of age for teething pain. I would advise any mums wishing to breastfeed a newborn with teeth to consult a lactation consultant or midwife as if a baby is latched correctly and actively feeding it is not possible for them to bite you so whilst initially you may be deterred I would reach out for the valuable support available which will allow you to comfortably feed your baby. Teething late also does not generally pose a problem – gums can be pretty hard and efficient at chewing – neither of mine got a tooth before 13 months and a gummy bite can leave a finger pretty sore! I would however recommend cutting up meat and hard foods into small pieces to make it easier for them to break them down properly which will aid digestion. The HSE define the order of teething as follows:
- bottom front teeth (incisors) – these are the first to come through, at around 5-7 months
- top front teeth (incisors) – these come through at around 6-8 months
- top lateral incisors (either side of the top front teeth) – these come through at around 9-11 months
- bottom lateral incisors (either side of the bottom front teeth) – these come through at around 10-12 months
- canines (towards the back of the mouth) – these come through at around 16-20 months
- molars (back teeth) – these come through at around 12-16 months
- second molars – these come through at around 20-30 months
This is a rough guide but it gives a good idea of what order you can expect teeth to arrive. If your child is late at getting teeth you may find they come in clusters and several will all arrive at once (fun times..).
Signs your baby is teething
- Lots of chewing – on everything!! You may notice your baby constantly has their fist in their mouth and their toys..and your clothes.. and pretty much anything they can get their hands on!
- Red and swollen gums – when a tooth is about to cut you can see and feel it sitting just beneath the surface. Unfortunately a lot of the pain associated with teething comes before teeth get to this point!
- Flushed cheeks or face – This can be all over their cheeks or just in a little circle on one or other cheek.
- Your baby may be unsettled, cranky or irritable.
- Your baby may not be sleeping well.
- Loose stools
- Bleeding gums
How to alleviate teething pain
- A healthy snack
Once your baby is established on solids you can give your baby healthy things to chew on to relieve their pain such as raw fruit or vegetables . Pieces of the soft part of the cucumber cut into sticks or cold (previously steamed) carrots are really good for young babies who have just started the weaning process. Keep these in the fridge until serving so they will provide extra relief. Bread sticks are also really handy or a crust of bread. Always remember to supervise your baby when eating solids to ensure they are safe and give age appropriate food to reduce the risk of choking.
- A cool drink
A cool drink of water can relieve teething pain a little and help with excessive dribbling.
- A cold wet face cloth
Ok so this isn’t a sophisticated option but it is cheap and effective! Gently rub and pat your baby’s gums with a damp wet cold face cloth.
- Teething Rings
These are a great item to have because when a baby bites down on the teething ring the pressure relieves some of their pain and discomfort. By using appropriate teething rings you are providing a hygienic and safe way for your baby to chew away their pain! Some of these products can be chilled in a fridge and the cold provides further relief – just make sure not to stick them in the freezer as they can become too hard and cold and could damage your little ones gums. There are loads on the market and different babies like different styles – I’m sure you’re all familiar with Sophie the Giraffe – if not she is worth checking out! One of my favourites is the Nuby Icybite Teether Keys – they can be chilled and have lots of different textures to feel and areas to explore! They are also easy to grip! They are available by clicking here!
The newest product – and probably best – that I have come across is the Mouthie Mitt. It’s a fantastic teething glove which provides both entertainment and pain relief to your little baba. Have a read of my full review of the Mouthie Mitt (formerly known as Munch Mitt!) here!
- Teething gel
Bonjela – This is suitable from four months and contains the active ingredient choline salicylate which is an anti-inflammatory pain killer. Use it by applying a pea sized amount to the gums with a clean finger no more than every three hours up to a maximum of 6 times in 24hours. Have a read of the packaging before you use it incase of a change to the recommendations at the time this article was written. The active ingredients in the ‘bonjela’ and the ‘bongela teething gel’ are the same – you can use either.
Teetha gel or granules – Teetha gel and granules are homeopathic products. The gel contains Chamomilla 12c, Belladonna 12c and Aconite 12c. The granules contain just Chamomilla 6c. The product claims to relieve teething pain and the associated symptoms of red cheeks and dribbling. You apply the gel using a pea sized amount every four hours up to a maximum of six times a day. You can use the granules up to every two hours up to a maximum of six times a day. You can even use a combination of the gel or granules so long as you don’t give more than one dose every four hours up to a maximum of six total doses in a day. There is no clinical evidence to support homeopathy but from personal experience the gel helped one of my daughters and the granules helped the other! Homeopathy is an interesting subject and not one I would ever disrespect. I personally find arnica excellent and that also is homepathic. I certainly feel that if your child is suffering from teething discomfort these products are worth a try. There’s also a good teether from tommee tippee – you can apply teething gel to – it looks like a soother but once in your baby’s mouth but actually is a really textured teether and will help the teething gel to cling better to your baby’s gums.
- Teething toothpaste
Dentinox Teething Toothpaste is a great product for use from birth to two years. It contains clove oil and can be brushed on gently using the included fingertip toothbrush. Its great when your baby has begun cutting teeth and you want to clean them but also provide relief to their discomfort.
- Oral Medication
Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can be given to your baby if they are very uncomfortable from teething pain, just remember to always read the packaging to ensure you are giving the correct dosage for the age of your baby. Never give more than the recommended doses but if necessary paracetamol (Calpol or Paralink) can be used in conjuction with ibuprofen (Nurofen). If the pain is still present please see the baby’s GP. If you would like any information on how to give your baby these medicines then just send me a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare or contact your local pharmacist.
The power of a hug and cuddle cannot be underestimated!! Reassurance and comforting can really help to put a distressed baby at ease. Also going for a walk when they are too irritable to play can help distract them from their pain. Amber teething bracelets and necklaces: The HSE have issued the following guidance on amber teething products and strongly recommend that they should not be used:
- “Amber teething jewellery products are unsafe for babies, and pose several serious risks:
- Amber teething necklaces, bracelets and anklets pose a potential choking/inhalation hazard to any child under three years of age.
- The jewellery normally contains many small amber beads which can come loose from the string and be swallowed or inhaled, which could cause choking.
- Even if the parts do not break off, amber necklaces, bracelets and anklets are small enough to be swallowed whole by a small child or baby.
- The amber beads used in this type of jewellery can very easily shatter into smaller parts which can lead to chocking.
- You should never put any kind of cord, string or chain jewellery around a baby’s neck.” ( http://hse.ie/eng/health/child/childsafety/teething_necklace.html)
Its worth noting that there is no scientific evidence to suggest a link between other illnesses and teething such as elavated temperatures, congestion and earaches. From working in community pharmacy I would say there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of certain symptoms cropping up every time a baby has a new tooth. I would recommend seeing your doctor if you suspect any condition other than teething.
What is associated with teething is increased saliva and dribbling. A lot of this excess saliva seems to be swallowed and has an effect on a baby’s stools. Your baby may suffer from nappy rash as a result of this. Using a thick barrier cream like sudocrem can be really useful to prevent the skin becoming irritated. I would also ensure you are wiping under a babies chin with a waterwipe regularly to remove dribble and use a good bib to prevent the dribble from irritating their chest and neck. You can apply a barrier cream to the skin creases in their neck also and I find this product the best for preventing dribble rash – La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume – it comes in a 40ml or 100ml size.
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page (www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare) or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262. I’m always happy to help!