What to do when your baby is teething

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Teething can be a rough period for both kids and parents. Although the rumors that teething can indirectly result in diarrhea or fever are unsubstantiated, your very young child is likely to be extremely uncomfortable. There may be tears, tantrums and late nights for a while. Here’s how to cope.

How do you know your baby is teething?

Although every baby is a little bit different, most start getting teeth around the age of six months. During this time, you may notice them chewing on solid objects or drooling. They may be moody or cranky.

Carry clean packs of tissues or cloth.

Drooling is a normal part of the teething process. It is not dangerous or harmful in and of itself, but if left alone it can cause a skin irritation. Carry clean washcloths, handkerchiefs or tissues at all times to gently dab their skin dry.

Give them something more constructive to gnaw on.

If you see your baby chewing away on their plastic toys or the nearest available piece of furniture, give them something else to keep them occupied (as long as they are already eating solid foods). A carrot stick or cucumber will keep them busy.

Gently rub their gums.

Just a little bit of pressure can help your baby feel more comfortable. Clean your hands thoroughly, then try running a finger along their gums. You can also use a gauze pad moistened with a little water.

Cool it down.

Numbing the sore area can help minimize discomfort and distract your baby. Avoid using ice or a frozen teething ring for too long, as too much cold can cause serious damage and pain. A cold teething ring, spoon or moist washcloth can help soothe the soreness though.

Give medication a try.

It should not be your first resort, but if your child is experiencing quite a bit of discomfort or is difficult to manage, you may want to use an over-the-counter medication. Ibuprofen (Children’s Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) will usually do the trick. Steer clear of any teething medications that contain benzocaine. A type of pain reliever, benzocaine has been associated with methemoglobinemia, which is an uncommon condition in which the amount of oxygen in the blood stream is reduced. Especially with children this age, it pays to stay on the safe side.

Only call a doctor if there are other symptoms.

As a new parent, it’s easy to view every tear your baby sheds as cause for alarm. For the most part, teething pain will work itself out and does not require professional medical intervention. If your baby develops a fever or is exhibiting other kinds of medical symptoms unrelated to teething, give your pediatrician a call.

Take care of those little teeth.

Remember to run a damp, clean washcloth over your baby’s gums daily to keep bacteria at bay. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to take care of those new chompers. Do not use fluoride toothpaste until your child is able to spit (around the age of three). You should also think of scheduling their first dental checkup by their first birthday, or after the first tooth pops up.

References.

1. Mayo Clinic: Healthy Lifestyle – Infant and toddler health -Teething: Tips for soothing sore gums. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/teething/art-20046378. Accessed on March 31, 2015.

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann via Compfight cc

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Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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