Baby Teething: Surefire Soothers

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, Expert Advice: Babies, Gear Guides: Babies

baby teething

Teething symptoms generally start between 3 and 12 months. Credit: Getty Images

Just when new parents start getting the hang of having an infant, baby teething starts, sometimes throwing life with baby into a tailspin. Teething symptoms generally start between 3 and 12 months, and, while it will be about two years before all of a child's baby teeth come in, the discomfort of baby teething usually goes away when the tooth breaks the skin. Of course, with 20 baby teeth to grow in, pain from different baby teeth coming in can last several months. Baby teething is inevitable, and will likely mean a fussy child. Here are some tried-and-true methods of easing the pain:


Apply cold to the gums: An icy cold temperature is soothing on gums sore from baby teething. A moist frozen washcloth or even a popsicle (you can make them out of plain water if preferred) will work, but can be messy; the best bet is a freezable teether, such as the Munchkin Fun Ice Soothing Ring Teether ($3.99 from diapers.com). This teether is specially made for freezing, and stays soft, even when ice-cold. If you'd prefer a cold teether filled with purified water rather than non-toxic gel, the Natursutten Chill-it Teether ($11.99 from diapers.com) is water-filled to be chilled in the refrigerator.


Ask about topical teething gels: While mothers of older generations may insist that nothing is better for baby teething than a little whiskey on the gums, even a tiny amount of alcohol is not recommended for babies by experts. For temporary pain relief from baby teething, an over-the-counter topical oral anesthetic gives more of a numbing effect than alcohol, anyway. Consult your child's pediatrician first, and only use gels designed specifically for infants.


Massage the gums: No teething gel, or just want to take a break from using it when teething symptoms pop up? Wash your hands thoroughly and massage baby's gums gently with your finger. Do this while holding and rocking the baby to calm her further -- the "cuddle hormone" released when the baby has skin-to-skin contact with a parent is believed to physically minimize pain, at least to some extent.


Pain relief drops: Your child's pediatrician may recommend administering baby acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Motrin), especially if he has the baby teething symptom of a fever. These types of pain relievers can ease baby teething pain for a couple of hours. Never give a baby or child aspirin, however, and always check that any pain reliever, which comes in a dropper for infants, is specific to your child's age.


Baby teething symptoms usually don't require a visit to the pediatrician; as your baby gets closer to or begins teething, discuss recommended treatments during regular checkups. Call the doctor if teething symptoms are severe or last for several days, if baby teeth don't appear by 12 months or if you have other concerns.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.