Babies tend to start teething when they’re 4–6 months old and, while this is a totally normal part of their development, it can be painful for your little one, and worrying for you. So, you’ll want to do plenty of research to ensure you’re prepared when the time does come.
Here, we’re going to explain what you need to know to make your baby’s teething experience as comfortable as possible. We’ll outline what symptoms you need to be looking out for, so you can easily work out when your child’s teeth are starting to come through, and we’ll offer advice on how you can help to relieve the pain that can come with this.
What are the most common signs that your baby is teething?
The symptoms of teething can vary from baby to baby, and they can last for anything from a few days to a number of months depending on how many of their teeth decide to come through at once. Because the experience is individual to each child, it can be difficult to say exactly what kinds of signs you need to be looking out for, but here are the most common symptoms that you might notice in your little one:
- Swollen or bulging gums
- Tooth visible below the gum line
- Trouble sleeping
- General irritability
- Dribbling more than usual
- Trying to chew or suck everything they can get their hands on
- Rubbing their face excessively
- Rejecting food
- Grabbing their ears
- One flushed cheek
If you notice that your baby is suffering from one or more of these symptoms and they’re around the right age, it could be that their teeth are starting to come through.
How can you soothe your teething baby?
If your baby has started teething and it's apparent that they're struggling with the pain, you'll want to take steps to relieve this. So, here are some tips that will hopefully help to make the experience as painless as possible.
Gently rub their gums
Putting slight pressure on your baby's gums can help to relieve their discomfort so, in a pinch, you can use a clean finger to rub their gums for them. You might want to stop once their teeth start to break through, but it can certainly help a lot in the early days of teething.
Give your baby a teething ring
Teething rings are specifically designed to help relieve your baby's gum pain, as they can be safely chewed on. Some can also be cooled in the fridge, which might help to ease the discomfort even further. We would always recommend having a teething ring in your baby's changing bag, because you'll be relieved to have one on hand if your little one starts to struggle with the pain while you're out and about.
Always make sure to read the instructions that come with a teething ring you intend to give to your little one, and never put yours in the freezer, as it could damage your baby's gums if it freezes solid.
Relieve their pain with paracetamol and ibuprofen
If your baby's teething pain isn't easing or they have a slightly raised temperature (below 38°C), you can give them a sugar-free pain killer that has been specifically formulated for babies and young children. These will typically contain very small doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Again, always make sure to follow the instructions carefully, and make sure you speak to a pharmacist or doctor if there's anything you're unsure of.
Use a teething gel
Teething gels are formulated to numb the pain when rubbed directly onto your baby's sore gums. The NHS recommends trying other solutions before giving teething gels a go, because the jury's out on whether they actually work. But there are parents who swear by it, so it's worth giving teething gel a go if you feel like you've tried everything else.
Always make sure to follow teething gel instructions to the letter and speak to a pharmacist if you're unsure of anything.
Gently wipe their face to prevent teething rashes
A lot of babies start to dribble more when they're teething and, if left unchecked, this can lead to rashes forming on their chins and cheeks. So, it's a good idea to gently wipe their face on a regular basis to prevent this from happening. You can also cover any spots you're worried about with petroleum jelly while they're sleeping or if you're on your way out the house, as this can help to protect their skin from further irritation.
Teething is going to be a key element of your baby’s development but, if you're not prepared, it can become quite stressful for you, and painful for them. Take these tips on board, and we're sure the experience will be far easier to bear.