We share some advice for easing your baby's discomfort while teething.
, or 'cutting teeth', can be a difficult period for both you and your baby. It is the time when your little one's first teeth will begin to show, usually beginning at about 6 months and continuing intermittently until baby is about three years old.
Some babies will sail through teething without a problem, but others may suffer discomfort as they get used to their new milk teeth. You may notice that baby seems more irritable or fussy than usual, or is more prone to night-time crying.
However there are a few tricks you can try that may help to soothe your baby's discomfort and make cutting teeth easier on the both of you...
Provide baby with a feed
Let baby chew on something chilly
- Some babies find feeding a real comfort while they are teething, especially if they have woken in the middle of the night, so this is definitely something worth trying.
- However others will not be so keen to feed during a teething spell, as sucking can aggravate their feelings of discomfort.
- Avoid giving your baby anything sugary, as this can cause tooth decay even if his or her teeth have not quite come through yet. Instead, try an unsweetened Rusk or a carrot - your baby may enjoy chewing and sucking on these, as they will be a distraction from any discomfort.
Soothe baby's gums
- If you give your baby something chilly to chew on such as a piece of apple or carrot from the fridge, this can relieve the pressure of their gums and therefore soothe pain.
- Or you could try putting a rubber teething ring or dummy in the fridge until cool to the touch, and give this to your baby to chew on. A cold wet flannel or cloth may also be worth trying.
- Make sure you don't give your baby anything that's freezing cold; slightly chilled is best.
Medicines and treatments
- Teething gels are available which contain a mild local anaesthetic - ask your pharmacist if you need help finding one that's suitable. Rubbing a small amount on your baby's gums can help to relieve discomfort.
- Make sure though that you use a teething gel specifically designed for babies.
- You could also try rubbing your baby's gums gently with a clean finger. The familiarity of your finger may provide baby with comfort and ease any pain.
- If you are going to give your baby any pain-relieving medicine, make sure it is specifically designed for children - such as Calpol or Nurofen for children. If you aren't sure if it is safe to give your baby a certain medicine or treatment, always consult your doctor.
- Vaseline or other petroleum jellies can be very helpful at this time. As teething can cause your baby to dribble more than usual, they are more likely develop rashes or irritation.
- Apply a small amount of Vaseline to affected areas such as around baby's chin and mouth to soothe discomfort - but remember Vaseline should not be applied to baby's gums.
Bear in mind that every baby is different. Your baby might respond to well to one of these methods but not so well to others. Sometimes nothing will seem to soothe your baby, but giving them plenty of cuddles and distracting them with play can help to comfort and relieve his or her pain.
If you find that you are unable to soothe your baby, always consult your doctor. The discomfort may be due to a developing illness, particularly if your baby has a temperature.