Few things wring a parent’s heart like seeing your child in pain. Even if you’re not a first-time parent, you realize that each child is unique, and what worked with one may not work with another. This is especially true when developmental milestones are occurring at a time when your baby can only communicate through tears and fussiness.
Teething is one such milestone, and there are literally hundreds of suggestions for parents on how to deal with it. You don’t want to rely on medications and chemically based soothers, but are there real, natural alternatives that work?
Signs of Teething
Teething starts as early as three months, and many of the signs can also be signs of other common issues like ear infections or stomach discomfort. You can be reasonably sure that your child is teething if the following symptoms occur and last for longer than a few hours or days:
- Biting or chomping
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive fussiness
- Ear pulling or rubbing on cheeks
- Lack of appetite
Many of these symptoms are the result of your baby’s attempts to relive the pain and pressure of bone trying to push through their tender gums. Logic says that the best way to deal with the discomfort associated with teething is to alleviate the symptoms. Fortunately, there are ways to do this that don’t involve painkillers.
Topical Ointments and Gels
These products, which cause numbness, used to be the go-to for parents of teething babies. However, experts are now recommending that even homeopathic soothing agents may cause more harm than good. Many stores, online and brick and mortar, have discontinued them due to adverse and possibly dangerous side-effects. Over the counter tooth pain medications are not recommended for children under the age of two, if you use them at all. If the pain is very severe, you could use ibuprofen especially made for babies over six months old, as it’s an anti-inflammatory medication, but even that is discouraged.
Cold naturally numbs sore gums and reduces swelling. It’s not a good idea to give your baby ice under any circumstances, but there are safe alternatives. One old standby is a cold washcloth. You can wet a baby washcloth and place it in the freezer long enough to get cold without freezing solid. This hits on several solutions. First of all, the cloth conforms to the contours of the baby’s mouth without causing discomfort. Washcloths are also textured, and the cold, rough cloth feels good on your baby’s gums. Lastly, they’re cold. You can also purchase gel-filled teethers that can be placed in the refrigerator and given to babies to chew on. Two caveats: never put one of these in the freezer and be careful of leaking.
The most noticeable sign of teething is chomping and chewing. This serves a double purpose: it helps relive pressure and push the teeth through the gums. You’ll notice that this behavior becomes more pronounced when the new tooth is near the surface. The best teethers are made from natural, undyed wood in the form of rings or beads. Just make sure that the beads are large enough that they don’t present a choking hazard but small enough to fit in baby’s mouth.
Luckily, you can widen your selection and make sure that you purchase something that’s safe and natural. There are several organic baby shops that allow you to buy teething baby rattles online. Some of the best are those that serve more than one purpose, like KippinTales natural beech wood teethes with detachable, soft Kippin friends.