9 Doctor-approved Tips to Survive Teething

Baby boy chewing on a yellow teetherBy Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos for Healthy Kids from Teeth to Feet

Teething is a milestone for babies, but some parents won’t find much to celebrate in the sore gums, endless drooling and general unhappiness that often precedes new teeth. Having the right information and some soothing strategies helps make everyone more comfortable. Here, nine teething tips to help make this challenge more bearable:

Teething Tip No. 1
Start with the facts. “At 4 months old, most babies are starting to jam things into their mouths. It’s not that they’re teething; they’re just exploring,” says Paul Ritger, a pediatrician based in Portland, Maine. True teething begins at 6-8 months, and unfortunately, teeth don’t simply erupt. Instead, they twist and shift as they make their way up from under the gums.

Teething Tip No. 2
Apply gentle pressure.
Massaging gums with wet washcloths or gauze — and even clean fingers — can help relieve discomfort, according to Shari C. Kohn, a dentist, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and an expert columnist for Healthy Kids From Teeth to Feet. Wiping their gums fends off bacteria too, which can prevent inflammation later on.

Teething Tip No. 3
Protect their skin.
Babies’ extra drool can cause face rashes and mild diarrhea, which can cause diaper rashes. Protect their chins and bottoms with ointment before and during these spells.

Teething Tip No. 4
Keep them hydrated.
Drooling and reduced appetites can keep babies from getting enough liquids. Offer lots of their favorite cold liquids.

Teething Tip No. 5
Chill sore gums.
A new, wet, frozen dishtowel is great for little teethers to gnaw on. For older ones, frozen bananas, celery, carrots, popsicles, and even mini bagels and waffles might do the trick. (If you use teething rings, check labels to see which ones you can chill and which you can freeze, advises Kohn.)

Teething Tip No. 6
Keep them rested. Tired babies are cranky, so honor their regular nap schedule. If teething pain keeps them awake, pain relievers such as Tylenol, Motrin and Advil can help; just be sure to carefully follow the package dosing instructions. After giving your baby the medication, wipe off any teeth they do have, as those syrups contain sugar.

Teething Tip No. 7
Target pain relief. If you opt for topical pain relievers (such as children’s Anbesol or Orajel), Kohn suggests using a Q-tip to dry the sore area first. Apply the gel with the other end, and then hold a piece of gauze over the area to help the medication soak in only where it should.

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Teething Tip No. 8
Be aware of blisters.
If you see a small blood blister over the area where the tooth will erupt, don’t panic. It’s perfectly normal, says Ritger. So are teeth that emerge crooked, discolored or widely spaced. Those stains will wear off as babies start eating food.

Teething Tip No. 9
Don’t chalk it all up to teething.
Not all symptoms are related to teething. If your baby has a runny nose, drainage from the eyes, or a fever of more than 101.3 F, it’s probably a virus, according to Ritger. If those symptoms become progressively uncomfortable, call your doctor.

Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos has written for numerous publications and websites, including Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple and iVillage.com.

 

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9 Doctor-approved Tips to Survive Teething

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19 comments

  1. Summertime94 says:

    ive been using the teething tablets they seem to help some

  2. Aimee says:

    I’ll have to bookmark this article!

  3. Grace says:

    good info to know

  4. taylor says:

    I havent tried it yet but have heard hat chewing on a green onion (whole) works great! Cut off the bottom white part and let them chew on the dark green part

  5. Ashley says:

    I’m starting to wonder if my little guy is starting to teeth and that’s why he isn’t sleeping well. These are good tips. I’m especially glad to know about the blood blisters and chance of discolored teeth.

  6. Miranda says:

    My little boy is teething and he is five months. The only thing that seems to work is popsicles and mommy’s fingers. I was using Baby Oragel but heard that it can cause less oxygen to circulate in his blood and has caused death in children under 2 so I’m not taking any risks.

  7. crystlmcs13 says:

    My daughter started teething when she was 2 1/2 months old and she has her first tooth I had a hard time I couldn’t give her anything she was to small! I cried with her I wish I could of take her pain away!

  8. Kaula Towers says:

    my daughter is 5 months old an i can already see the first tooth.. she doesnt like the teeth rings at all the only thing that seems to work are the teething blankets

  9. holly says:

    Good to know, my daughter is going through that now.

  10. Skhylar says:

    @KWRAY – omg! "they’ll be screaming so their mouths will be open for you"!? seriously!? thank you for for not listening to that woman- i’m sure your baby would’ve thanked you personally if they could!

  11. TazzyVa2001 says:

    My LO is 37 weeks old… and still no teeth. Lots and lots of drool, but no teeth.

  12. It Actually WORKS! My grandma did it to my mom and me and they both said i never cried for weeks at a time because it was over quick fast and in a hurry

  13. mines 4 months and teething 😮 i can feel it in his mouth

  14. Tiffany says:

    My 33 1/2 week Premie cut her first tooth about a month ago at 7 months :):) Great Article!!

  15. Brittney says:

    Great article, my lil one has been teething since 3 1/2 months.

  16. KWRAY says:

    I once had an elderly woman tell me to chill a spoon and then press down on the gums firmly and repeatedly until the teeth broke the gums. "They’ll be screaming so their mouths will be open for ya. Yes, it hurts, but it only hurts for a couple days instead of weeks." It’s amazing how far we’ve come from "the good ol’ days." Needless to say I thought she was nuts and ignored any advice she ever gave me after that.

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