You’ll probably have read about it and are even prepared for the warning signs. A child with red, slightly swollen cheeks, an elevated temperature and a constant grizzle on. It’s difficult enough parenting with a new baby but when they are obviously in pain, it’s bound to be distressing not just for them, but for you, too.
Teething, like any stage of development is a necessary step in your child’s healthy development, even though it may be uncomfortable.
Understanding the process is a sensible first step. Teething is the generic term for the appearance of baby’s first teeth – often referred to as baby teeth but in medical terms, known as deciduous teeth. They typically arrive in pairs, emerging through the gums, starting with the lower central incisors (usually at about 6 months), and continuing often for some years, until there are 20. It may be useful or you to know that the term ‘cutting teeth’ in actually incorrect. It may be reassuring for you to know that they don’t cut through the flesh, instead hormones are released within the body that cause some cells in the gums to perish, enabling the teeth to emerge.
So what can you do to help? The trick is to be prepared.
Hippychick, a provider of parenting essentials for over 20 years, guides you through the do’s and don’ts of this extended and often challenging process.
1. SOLID TEETHING RINGS
These really do help! You may wish to put them in the fridge to make them cooler. Choose a solid teething ring (not gel) ideally made from a flexible food grade silicone.
Hippychick offer some lovely and effective options which don’t just get to the root of the problem, but offer other experiences for your developing child, too.
The Nattou range of colourful, sensory teethers are designed primarily to help relieve the pain of the first teeth poking through but area also constructed for a variety of different textures, colours and shapes, to keep baby distracted.
The Bumkins baby range offers a simple but effective set of Silicone Teething Rings. Made from 100% food-safe silicone, each of the rings features a variety of textures that babies can explore as they soothe sore gums. The rings are easy for babies to grasp as they develop more coordination and can be worn as a bracelet by you, so they are always to hand when you need them.
Dena is a brand new concept which offers a multi-tasting toy suitable not only for teething, but for a huge range of other developmental play opportunities, too. Apart from chewing it, babies can throw it, flex it, suck it, throw it, pull it squeeze it. The possibilities are endless.
Dena Free Play Toys – Prices start from £9.00
Put teething rings in the freezer as they become too cold and could hurt your baby’s mouth.
Tie them around your baby’s neck as they could present a strangulation hazard.
Dip them in sugary solutions before offering them to your baby. Sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay, so you don’t want to be covering your toddler’s emerging tooth buds in sugar.
2. RAW FRUIT AND VEG
Keep a supply of cut up fruit and vegetables such as cucumber, apple, and carrot in the fridge, ready to come to the rescue. Not only will these help soothe sore gums, but they will also introduce your baby to new tastes and textures.
Ever leave your child unattended while they are sucking on fruit and veg as they could pose a potential choking hazard.
3. MASSAGE GUMS
Use a squeaky-clean finger or a baby toothbrush to massage their gums. The latter is a good option as it will get your child accustomed very early to the process of dental hygiene.
Bother with shop-bought expensive teething gels. There is no evidence that these are effective and many of the homeopathic ones could even be dangerous (always check to see if they are licenced for us in the UK). In severe cases, your doctor may be able to provide a gel containing a local anaesthetic.
4. OFFER DISTRACTION
✅ Provide your baby with lashings of comfort and distraction. This is really the best way to take their mind off this often-uncomfortable process.
✅ If all else fails, and your baby is in real distress, you can offer them a dose of infant sugar-free paracetamol. Always adhere to the recommended dosage instructions or ask your pharmacist for specific details.
6. TRUST YOUR PARENTAL INSTINCT
✅ Teething may have some mild symptoms but shouldn’t cause diarrhoea, vomiting, rashes or a high fever. Always call your doctor if in doubt.