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Lots of saliva (drooling) is the first sign. Other signs of teething may include:
Teething is a vital part of your child’s normal development. Expect this to happen around 6 months (some variations are also normal) as the first set of teeth erupts. The bottom middle teeth first appear followed by the upper middle ones and then the sides and the back.
Although it’s normal and natural, teething can cause a lot of discomfort to your adorable baby. As mentioned earlier, disruptions to eating and sleeping patterns are signs of teething. These might then interfere with your child’s healthy physical and mental development (also take note the tendency for child to put things into his/her mouth). And yes you’ll be affected too because you’ll worry and lose sleep over your child’s discomfort.
What should you do then to comfort your child? Keep in mind that your baby might be under a lot of discomfort because of the eruption of first set of teeth. It’s a new feeling and experience for your baby and he/she doesn’t yet have the ability to tell you what’s wrong.
So the first thing you can do is to observe and be aware of your child’s recent behavioural changes. Yes, this is a huge challenge because there’s always something new with your baby and perhaps you’re still overwhelmed with this huge transition in your life.
Thankfully there are clear signs (mentioned above) of teething. The most obvious sign is drooling (lots of saliva). Watch out for this especially if your child is between 6 to 10 months old (under one year).
However, you might still miss that sign. So another clear sign is the babies start to suck their fingers and fists. Remember that your child feels uncomfortable because of that new sensation in his/her gums. As a result, your baby will start doing things to ease the discomfort or pain.
When you notice those signs, it’s good to check your baby’s gums and see if these are swollen. The swelling or inflammation could be a result of how the gums and teeth adjust for their spaces. It could also be a result of irritation because babies who start teething often experiment with their mouths (e.g. sucking their fingers and fists).
To help soothe your baby’s teething pain, an effective way is to gently massage your baby’s gums with a clean finger or damp cloth. Some mums dip their fingers in cool water before massaging their babies’ gums (especially right before feeding time). The lower temperature provides some relief to the swelling and inflammation.
Take note that if mums do nothing, their babies will take action themselves to ease the pain. It’s better if the mums do the comforting to keep their babies safe and healthy. This sounds extra work but you can easily squeeze this comforting activity right before feeding time.
Important tip: Gently massage your baby’s gums with a clean finger or damp cloth.
It seems babies are pre-programmed to start using their teeth and explore the possibilities that come with the eruption of first pairs of teeth. As a result, they would reach for anything they can gnaw or chew on.
This could be the natural outcome of preparing for using the teeth for chewing and tearing up food. So instead of prohibiting your baby to chew and gnaw (perhaps you have a tendency to stop him/her from sucking his/her fingers), it’s better to give him/her something to chew on. Keep in mind that the babies’ impulse to chew will persist for some time, which is why it’s good to just let it run its course.
Many mums give their child a teething ring (many are made of rubber) for this purpose. Mums bring the teething ring anywhere they go with their babies because yes, babies will want to chew anywhere they go. At home some mums use a cool wet washcloth (perhaps they put it inside a fridge for an hour or two) and give that to their babies to gum on. It seems babies love the texture and cool temperature of the washcloth (and this also helps soothe the babies’ swelling gums).
Important tip: It’s alright to let your baby chew as much as he/she wants as long as you make sure that what he/she is putting into his/her mouth is safe and clean.
Your baby might have trouble sleeping because of the discomfort and mild pain from the erupting teeth. To give him/her relief from that discomfort or pain (and make falling asleep easier for your baby), it’s good to deal with the root cause by gently rubbing your baby’s gums. Many mums use a cold washcloth, moistened gauze pad or their own clean fingers to massage the swollen gums of their babies.
That can work for most of the time. But what if your baby is experiencing too much pain and falling asleep is impossible? Best thing to do is to visit the doctor first to see if there are any serious problems. Don’t give your child pain relievers yet especially if your baby is still under 6 months. Although paracetamol and ibuprofen are considered safe for babies 6 months and up, giving the wrong dosage can lead to serious consequences. The babies’ small bodies and their rapid brain and physical development might be affected by the medication (especially aspirin that can result to a life-threatening condition).
It’s a vital part of your child’s development. The baby teeth allow babies to enjoy a variety of foods and assist in the initial development of the child’s speech abilities. The baby teeth also help guide the permanent teeth into the correct positions (maintaining the space for permanent teeth).
Teething is only temporary and will be over sooner than you think. The problem here is that it can affect your child’s eating and sleeping patterns. The key here is to figure out the real cause of the pain and discomfort by checking for the signs (red swollen gums, drooling, the baby’s urge to constantly gnaw and chew). Then you have to ease the discomfort and pain your baby is experiencing. This is a trying time for your baby and your presence as the parent will greatly help your baby to feel safe and comfortable.