Posted by TinyTotties on October 13 2009
When my babies were teething, I often fantasized about a world where teeth erupt without causing so much pain and suffering, to baby and to parents! But the reality is, the teething process causes babies a lot of discomfort. Let’s take a quick look at the process of teething, symptoms of teething, and how you can help your baby with the pain.
The Teething Process
The process of teething greatly varies from baby to baby because it usually follows hereditary patterns. Some babies teeth early, some later. Some babies hardly suffer, while some go through weeks of pain and discomfort.
On average, teething begins around the age of six months with the eruption of the incisors, and ends around age two with the eruption of the second molars. Most children have a full set of primary teeth by the time they are around two to three years old.
Which means that just as you’re getting your baby to sleep for longer stretches at night, teething begins, and with it, many sleepless nights. Who said parenting was easy?
The symptoms of teething greatly vary from child to child. Almost all babies experience some level of pain or discomfort, but some suffer with other symptoms such as fever or diarrhea. Because some teething symptoms may also be symptoms of an illness, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor if your child experiences general illness symptoms while she is teething.
This was one of my own babies’ main teething symptom. It was incredibly frustrating for us as parents, because we were just getting them to sleep better at night around the age of six months, when teething began and all hell broke loose. To this day, I firmly believe that parents should not expect to sleep well until their child is around 2 years old.
Babies tend to be more fussy than usual during the teething process, probably because their gums are constantly sore. Can you imagine going through that kind of pain? I certainly can’t blame them – I would be irritable too!
Extra Saliva Cause Drooling, Coughing and Diarrhea
Teething stimulates the production of extra saliva, which causes your baby to drool and cough. Drooling can also cause a chin rash, because contact with saliva irritates the skin. If your baby drools a lot, try wiping her mouth and chin several times throughout the day to prevent a rash. The extra saliva also loosens baby’s stools, but if your baby has diarrhea while he’s teething, it’s best to check with your pediatrician to make sure nothing more serious is going on.
Biting and Gnawing
Biting helps relieve the pressure from under the gums caused by the teeth erupting. Teething babies love to bite and gnaw. You can buy teething rings - toys that are filled with water and cooled in the fridge. These provide extra relief by slightly numbing your baby’s gums.
Pulling on Ears
Teething babies sometimes pull their ears or rub their cheeks in an attempt to relieve teething pain. However, it’s important to remember that ear pulling could also be a sign of an ear infection.
Low Grade Fever
Some parents report that teething causes low-grade fever in their babies. Not all doctors agree that teething in itself causes fever, so if your baby has fever, do check with your doctor.
Relieving Teething Pain
As mentioned above, teething rings are very helpful in relieving teething pain. We used to keep several of them in the fridge. Remember to wash teething rings in warm soapy water each night, then put them right back in the fridge. Cold foods such as chilled applesauce and yogurt may also provide temporary relief.
Some babies love to chew on their parents’ fingers while teething. By all means, offer your fingers to your child – just make sure you wash your hands often.
Some doctors recommend giving your baby Tylenol at night during the toughest periods of teething pain. Others recommend the use of Baby Orajel, although some pediatricians say it is washed off the gums almost immediately and so is not very effective.
Remember to always check with your doctor before administering medicine to your child and if she shows general signs of illness. Never assume it’s “just teething.” Above all, be patient: teething is tough on babies and on parents, but like many other baby milestones, you can rest assured: this too shall pass.