Recognising teething problems with your baby and learn how to remedy them
By Emma Reed
A teething baby is probably one of the most well-discussed topics in parenting yet when it comes to dealing with the symptoms there are still a lot of grey areas and quite a few misconceptions. The main problem is that all babies are different and due to this they can show varying symptoms and levels of pain. Some babies do just sail through the teething process whereas others can be upset for weeks or months. What we need to be focused on as parents, is what is going on with our baby at that moment in time. You may hear from medical professionals that teething pain does not exist, you may be told old wives’ tales by a family member and you may receive slightly dubious advice via a Facebook group, all of which may leave you baffled and confused but you need to take a step back and just work out what works for your child and what will ease their pain or discomfort.
Having already been through an awful teething experience with my first child I am preparing myself for my latest arrival to begin teething and am turning my mind back to those long forgotten (blocked out!) memories of sleepless nights, endless crying, explosive nappies and so much more. So, this is some of what I learnt as a first-time Mum dealing with a terrible teether.
This is usually a given and the most obvious sign that teething is going on. Typical signs are crying, grumbling, ear tugging, waking often and wanting to be soothed. As teething can start at any time (with some babies being born with teeth) your poor little cherub may be in pain from the very early days without you even realising that this is the issue. The teeth move in the jaw prior to eruption and can often be seen peeking up to the gums as a white lump and then reducing back down to nothing again. We can’t ask what our poor little mites are going through but we can look for these signals and react in time in order to provide some pain relief. As long as your baby is old enough, infant paracetamol and infant Nurofen will both help to reduce the pain, bring down a fever and calm your baby (always follow the dosage rates on the box). Other remedies include teething granules, teething gels and amber jewellery. By reacting as soon as the signs are showing you will be reducing their pain quickly and preventing it from escalating.
This is a very common sign during teething. The salivary glands do increase in activity from 3 months of age, but teething will make it more excessive. The main issue with dribbling is that it gets onto the skin and if left, it can lead to a nasty rash. It can be so difficult to keep on top of wet areas and constant wiping can actually make the situation worse. You can tackle this by changing their clothes more often when it becomes wet but this can end up being a constant battle. The best thing you could purchase is a dribble bib which will keep your baby’s clothes dry and will mean you won’t need to keep up with checking and changing them. You can also dab the dribble away with a clean, soft muslin (do not use wipes) and apply a barrier cream to protect the skin. Make sure you also check in the folds of skin babies have under their chin. It is easy for the dribble to linger here and get missed – a perfect breeding place for germs! Teething granules state that they can reduce dribbing as can amber jewellery.
Rosy cheeks are a classic look in a teething baby. This occurs due to the pain and swollen gums. It doesn’t usually affect your baby too much and tends to die down once the offending tooth makes its appearance. Teething granules and pain relief will help to reduce the redness. One misconception of rosy cheeks is that the baby is unwell and has a fever. The only way to determine if a baby is feverish is by taking their temperature, do not rely on the look and feel of their cheeks. If there is a fever always seek medical advice.
You will probably notice that everything goes into your baby’s mouth once teething begins. Their fist, their clothing, your fingers, toys… anything they can get their hands on to try and ease their discomfort. The reason this is good for them is because it soothes the pain but at the same time, it helps to soften the gums to help the teeth to erupt. However, you certainly don’t want your baby grabbing any old item, especially if you have older children who have small toys lying around so your best items to buy are specially designed teething toys such as Sophie la girafe, teething jewellery for you to wear or teething biscuits such as Bickiepegs.
Loose Bowels and Nappy Rash
Another side effect of the excess saliva is loose stools. As the saliva works its way into the stomach it causes an acidic build-up which in turn moves into the bowels leading to an increase in movements and softening of the stools. The result usually being explosive nappies! I would definitely recommend taking a change of clothes, plenty of nappies plus lots of nappy bags to pop dirty clothing into every time you go out – you don’t wanna get caught out! Teething granules will help to settle their little tummies as they contain chamomile which is soothing on their systems.
The inevitable happens from all those loose bowel movements and little red, sore, rashy bottoms are seen during the teething process. The urine will also become more acidic from the saliva being swallowed which will add to nappy rash issues. The best remedy for this is nappy free time to allow the area to dry out and heal. I would also recommend using just warm water and cotton wool at changing times and ditching the wipes during this time. A barrier cream, Vaseline or olive oil will provide a waterproof barrier between the wet nappy and the skin.
Some of the more unusual symptoms I saw in my son was increased ear wax, coughing, hiccups, sickness, eczema and irritability. Of course, the one thing that we all have to endure is the lack of sleep and this can only be dealt with in the best way which suits your family. You may choose to co-sleep, try amber jewellery, drive around in the middle of the night or rock them until you burn all that baby weight off! Whatever your methods you should always do what is best for your own baby. Take others’ advice but don’t feel you have to follow it, ignore any negative comments and don’t let anybody else judge you. Only you know what the situation is and in our case, teething was the worst stage we went through. It was stressful, exhausting and worrying. All I wanted to do was help my baby and to be able to take all his discomfort and upset away. We all have our different ways of parenting and coping and that is fine. Teething can last until a child is three years old, so you need to learn how to listen to their needs and meet them whilst trying to maintain your normal life routines. It is a long, slow process but I can ensure you that there is a light at the end of that tunnel.
If you would like to find out more about the teething process, Emma is the author of the book ‘Your Teething Baby, from one parent to another’ and it is available to purchase over on Amazon as a paperback for £10.99 or kindle for £6.50.