Most parents anxiously await for their newborns to reach certain milestones: the first smile, first giggle, first time rolling over, the first time sleeping through the night. However, there are also a few milestones that many parents do not look forward to, and chief among them is teething. Parents can typically expect baby’s first tooth to arrive around six or seven months, but really, an infant can start the teething process as early as three months. Indiciations that a child is teething may include excessive drooling, coughing caused by that excessive saliva, a rash around the chin and mouth, biting, tenderness and even bleeding of the gums, irritability, diarrhea, a low-grade fever, refusal to eat, and ear pulling. Some babies will experience only minor symptoms, and the first tooth may suddenly appear, seemingly out of the blue. Unfortunately, for other babies, the teething process can be quite uncomfortable, causing the aforementioned irritability and even inability to sleep.
There are a number of teething remedies for parents to help their babies deal with the discomfort caused by teething. The most popular suggestion is to offer the baby something to chew on, providing pressure on the gums. If the item is chilled, it can provide even greater relief for the infant. Such items may include teething rings or toys that have been placed in the freezer, frozen bagels or even a cold carrot. Many parents also recommend cold drinks or foods such as a bottle of ice-cold water, cold applesauce or yogurt. If more immediate relief is needed, a parent can rub her finger on baby’s gums to provide pressure and relief from the pain.
Although very popular with mothers trying to avoid orally administered medication, teething remedies applied to the gums will enter the bloodstream through absorption and digestion. Recently there has been a recall by the FDA on teething tablets because they contain inconsistent amounts of a substance known to cause toxicity problems in large doses.
And finally, if baby is having excessive pain at night and difficulty sleeping, thereby causing mom and dad to become deprived of sleep as well, it may be necessary to administer acetaminophen such as Infant Tylenol or a topical numbing agent such as Baby Orajel.
When administering an over-the-counter medicine or herbal teething remedy, it is always best to check with your baby’s pediatrician to verify there are no drug interaction risks and correct dosage.
Perhaps most importantly, as a parent, once you have determined that the notorious first tooth is the cause of your baby’s discomfort and fussiness, stay calm, try some of the suggested methods of relief, and remember, that this, like all stages of your child’s development, will pass. And who knows, one day you may even miss this.