When your baby is crying, it can make you want to cry, too—either out of sympathy or frustration. It doesn’t help that your baby’s cry can mean just about anything—maybe she’s hungry, cold, bored, or needs a diaper change. Or maybe, just maybe, it is time for her to start teething.
So, how do you know if she’s teething, or if it’s something else?
Although babies can start getting teeth as early as three months old, most babies don’t start teething until between four and seven months. It can take a year or more for your baby to get through her teething phase.
There is some debate among pediatricians as to whether there are “symptoms” that come with teething. Some say that when teething begins, you can tell because of symptoms such as diarrhea, fussy behavior, and even fever.
Other doctors say that there is no way teething can cause these symptoms. Still other doctors say that these symptoms are caused by the stress a baby goes through when teething. (Regardless of what you think may be causing problems, if you are worried, or if your baby has a high fever, contact your pediatrician right away.)
The bottom line is that it can be hard to pinpoint why your baby is crying—but if they are a few months old, painful emerging teeth might be causing the problem.
Here are some natural remedies to try to help your baby through this painful time:
1. Give her something to chew on. Today, there are more than just plain ol’ teething rings. There are flavored teething rings, vibrating teething rings, teething toys, teething blankets—even a line of teething “rings” that are disguised as jewelry that mom can wear. (Your baby is going to try to chew on your necklace anyway—this way you won’t mind.) If you are stuck without a teething ring (or teething jewelry), try rubbing a clean finger over your baby’s gums to give her some relief. Some parents also swear that letting a teething baby suck on a toothbrush will work even when these other items won’t.
2. Give her something cold to chew on. The last time you wrenched your finger in just the wrong way, it probably felt a little better after you put some ice on it. Your baby’s swollen and painful gums are no different, and giving her something cold may help her feel better, too. You can also try teething rings that you put in the fridge until they’re cold, or even a washcloth that has some cold water on it. You could also try cold food such as applesauce (as always with younger children, make sure what they are putting in their mouth is nothing they could choke on). You could also try putting her bottle nipples in the freezer for about ten minutes, or letting a spoon chill for her to chew on.
3. Distract her. Who doesn’t feel better after a warm bath? Especially a warm bath with lots of fun bubbles, our favorite bath toys, and a chance to snuggle up with mom or dad afterwards.
4. If you are breastfeeding, this may provide the comfort your baby needs while she’s teething. If she wants to bite during breastfeeding, try rubbing your finger over her gums before you begin so that she isn’t just breastfeeding to get rid of her pain. There are some babies that eschew breastfeeding when they’re teething—the sucking may actually make their mouth pain worse.
For your baby’s comfort (and your sanity!), you want your baby to be as happy as possible. If you think she might be teething, try one of the above tips, so that you can both stop crying.