Mayapple Baby Blog

5 Things To Do For Your Teething Baby

Friday, July 26, 2013
Your little one is suffering, crying, drooling, putting her fingers, hands and every other unimaginable thing within reach into her mouth, and you don’t know what to do to alleviate her suffering.  It seems that every parent experiences this feeling of helplessness, and even though you try and try and try many things, nothing seems to work.

Teething is a natural phase that most babies go through.  Baby’s first teeth begin to emerge and gums throb and cause pain and discomfort.  Most babies begin teething around 3 to 4 months and could continue to 3 years, when most kids have a full set of 20 baby teeth.  Here is a helpful link of all things teething at  Our son at 19 months is still teething like a ravenous dog, with no end in sight.  Our daughter, by contrast, peaked between 6 and 15 months and was pretty much done by 18 months.   

There are several things you can do, but remember: no two babies are the same, so their experiences with teething will be different; you may have to try a combination of things for her to experience some relief.  Have patience and keep trying! 

Give Me Some Relief!

Here are some suggestions derived from our research and our own experience with our daughter and son:

1) Clear Mouth:  First, make sure that there is nothing foreign in your baby’s mouth causing discomfort.  Seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget to do this simple thing while going about our busy day.  Directly ask your baby if he has anything in his mouth.  Ask him to open his mouth, tell him you want to look inside, tell him to go “ahhhh”, and then pry his mouth open.  It’s best to train your baby early to do this.  Babies can’t be watched every second of every day, so you’ll find that they sneak things into their mouths without you noticing (that’s why a thorough baby proofing of your living area is essential).  Watch his behavior and check their mouths often.  Also, make sure there is no bleeding or signs of infection (swollen gums, pus, fever, etc.).  If so, contact your pediatrician.   

2) Not That!:  Make sure your baby does not put unwanted and potentially harmful things in his mouth.  That being said, know that it is impossible to completely prevent all undesirable objects from finding their way to your baby’s gums.  We turned around one day and found our son, on his knees, sucking on a metal door stop (we decided to first admire his resourcefulness, then wash his mouth out).  Please note also that just because you purchased an item that says “non-toxic” doesn’t mean it should be sucked on by your baby.  DO NOT use something as a teether unless it is actually designed to be a teether.  (We’ve read countless stories of parents who let their babies or tots bite and suck “non-toxic” foam furniture guards; while it may be true that the guards do not contain heavy metals, they were not designed to be bitten and sucked by babies. 

3) Oral Ointment:  Apply oral teething relief, but be discriminating.  There are lots of popular remedies on the market and most include benzocaine as the main pain relieving ingredient.  However, the FDA issued a warning called “Benzocaine and Babies: Not a Good Mix” about the potential of a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia.  We like to use, and therefore recommend, products derived from natural ingredients with a proven track record of safe and effective oral use in human babies.  One that worked for our children during their teething phases is Gum-omile Oil by Herbs for Kids (WARNING: this product contains almond oil - tree nuts).  Both our children hated the taste of Gum-omile Oil the first few times they used it.  But after several applications over a week or so, they probably associated the clove taste with relief, and were eager to get more.  There are many other natural teething remedies available that are probably worth investigating and trying out.  Always read the ingredients to make sure you and your baby are not allergic before you use any product, natural or not.  Speak to your pediatrician about your reservation about benzocaine; perhaps he or she can recommend products without it. 

4) Cold:  After the oral ointment is applied, wait a few minutes, and then give your child something cold, such as a frozen sterilized-water-filled teether.  (Do not give your baby ice cubes, as they will either slip out of her hand or slip down her throat.)  Be careful to learn what ingredients the frozen teethers are made of.  Some are made of material whose safety is questionable; they scratch easily and tiny pieces of plastic may end up being consumed by your baby.  It’s best to let your baby suck on these for several minutes while they are frozen, then give him a regular teether to continue working those gums.  Another option is giving your baby organic sorbet.  It's best to do this after she starts solids.  Depending on her age, start with tiny spoon-tips.  The frozen fruit will melt in her mouth, numbing her gums and giving her a pleasant taste. Two or three small spoon servings should do it.

5) Teether:  Make sure you find a safe and effective teether.  Safe implies that the material is non-toxic, free of heavy metals, PVC, BPA, Phthalates, etc., and that the teether is designed to not present a choking hazard.  Effective means that first, your child wants to use it, and second that using it actually provides relief.  Babies will have a preference for a certain thing, use it obsessively, then discard it and never come back to it.  That’s why it’s important to have several teethers available.  Also, just because your child doesn’t immediately take to a teether you offer her, doesn’t mean she won’t like it later.  Our daughter disliked the taste and feel of one best-selling teether when we offered it to her at 5 months; by the time she was 7 months she loved it. 

The above recommendations are not meant to replace medical advice from your pediatrician.  Please always consult with your pediatrician about the health of your child.   

Mayapple Baby® does not recommend using over-the-counter medication for teething relief.  Our tendency is to be very cautious and shy away from the routine use of potent drugs on our children for non-emergency conditions.  In our opinion, these drugs should be reserved for serious or life-threatening situations.  For one, regular use may teach a child to be extremely pain-adverse; he/she may end up seeking pain relief at the slightest experience of discomfort.  Second, regular use could build tolerance and require stronger doses to maintain the same level of pain relief.  Third, we are not convinced of the safety of everyday use of these powerful analgesics, antipyretics and anti-inflammatory drugs.  Aspirin, for example, was a mainstay of pediatricians’ arsenal; now it is not recommended for children under 19 without instructions from a pediatrician because of Reye Syndrome.  Here are the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations on OTC medicines.      

UPDATE 8/3/2013
The FDA has issued another warning on acetaminophen's rare risk of skin diseases.

M commented on 01-Aug-2013 04:35 PM
Cute kid! Cute teethers!
Cindy commented on 05-Aug-2013 01:45 AM
Thanks for this great info! Gonna try that Gumomile stuff.

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