Parenting column: Answers for families
For the Love of Parenting: How you and the little one can survive teething.
Editor’s note: For the Love of Parenting is a local parenting advice column coordinated by Krystal Arnot, director of the Little Learners Center in Eureka. When parents have questions, she’ll share strategies here.
QHelp! My child is teething and seems so uncomfortable. What can I do to help soothe the gums?
ABaby is fussy? Teeth. Baby didn’t sleep well? Teeth. Baby is drooling? Teeth. Baby looked at you funny? Teeth. In the first few years it’s ALWAYS the teeth. Then they all fall out and you get to do it all over again! Teeth! Teething is such an uncomfortable experience and it’s so hard to watch our children hurt. The good news is that it is all a phase, the teeth WILL pop through and the pain will pass.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help your child feel a bit better. You can offer teething toys, especially the type that you can put in the refrigerator to soothe the gums. A cool damp washcloth or a clean finger can work in a pinch! If your child is eating solids, you can offer teething biscuits or cold foods such as chilled yogurt, sticks of fruit, or applesauce. I used a silicone or mesh baby food feeder that contained frozen fruit for my child to suck on. If your child is not eating solids yet, try to be available for comfort nursing as much as possible. My son wanted to be held constantly while teething so I would put him in a carrier to be able to get things done. Snuggles can help so much! Also, Baby Motrin has been a lifesaver for us on a few particularly rough nights.
There are varying opinions on topical remedies (and the FDA warns against most) so be sure to consult your child’s doctor before using. Some parents have had success with topicals that include things like clove oil or chamomile. Don’t use numbing products that contain benzocaine as it has recently been linked to some pretty serious health problems.
Teething is such a hard part of parenting babies and toddlers. Make sure you check in with yourself to be sure that your needs are being met as well. We parent best when we take care of ourselves, too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from partners, friends, or family so you can take a little break to refill your cup. Take a walk around the block, have a cup of tea, take a nap! You can do it! — Tali