How to Handle the Dreaded Teething Process
There are many milestones to look forward to in your child’s life, from their first smile to their first steps and all the wonders in between. However, teething is one process that most parents actively dread.
There’s no way of avoiding the teething stage, so the best thing to do is prepare and be ready when the time comes. It’s worth noting that some babies experience little to no symptoms of teething, so you may be one of the exceptionally lucky few, but here’s what to do if you’re not.
When Does Teething Start?
No two children are the same but generally speaking teething starts around the 4-8 month mark. 6 months is the average, but some children don’t start until they’re over 12 months old. If your tot’s teeth are slow to develop there’s no need to panic, as every child is different.
The symptoms of teething include:
- Sore, red gums. Sometimes you may notice an eruption cyst over an emerging tooth, which should disappear once the tooth comes through fully.
- Ear rubbing
- One flushed cheek
- Mild temperature
- Distress and irritability
- Lots of chewing or gum rubbing
- Inflamed gums
- Loss of appetite
Teeth tend to erupt in pairs and the bottom front incisors usually appear first, whilst the larger molars come later. The following timeline provides a general rule of thumb as to what you can expect and when.
You may notice your infant displaying some of the above symptoms before teeth begin to erupt. As discussed, the first teeth to appear are usually the two bottom front teeth.
The first stages of teething generally coincide with the time that your child becomes increasingly active and starts to move around more. This means that they’ll want to put everything in their mouth, so be extra careful about any loose objects laying around and always keep a close eye on your little one.
This is usually when the upper front incisors appear, although of course this varies according to when the teething process begins. It’s likely that their upper and lower lateral incisors (which sit on either side of the middle two teeth) will appear during this time, too. In this case, the top teeth usually appear first.
Your child’s top and bottom molars tend to appear at around 12-16 months. By now, your child should be able to pull themselves up and will probably take their first steps. This is a joyful moment, but it means that you’ll need to be more watchful than ever as they will still want to put everything in their mouth!
The pointy canine teeth can appear from anywhere between 16-23 months. These are the last teeth to appear before the large back molars, which tend to be the most painful.
Your child’s second molars will most likely appear when they are between 20-30 months old. These are the largest teeth which means there’s a good chance they’ll be the most painful, too. Parents will be overjoyed to learn that this development often coincides with the infamous “terrible twos” phase.
How Can I Help My Child?
Teething can be unpleasant but fortunately there are a number of things you can do to soothe your suffering little one.
A little extra affection goes a long way when your child is in pain. Be on hand with lots of cuddles for when they’re distressed or irritable due to sore and aching gums.
Remember to be patient with them; you’d be grumpy too if you were teething, and they don’t have the words to articulate their feelings.
There are lots of safe, specially designed teething toys out there for your child to chew on during this stage of development. For extra relief, put a teething ring in the fridge before giving it to your child as the cool surface will help to soothe sore gums. However, you should never put a teething toy in the freezer as this will make it too hard and could potentially damage your child’s gums or teeth.
Cold Wash Cloth
Wet a clean washcloth, wring it out and then leave it to cool in the fridge. Once it’s cool, fold it into a small square and give it to your baby to chew on. This traditional method is really helpful for cooling and soothing red, irritated gums so long as you don’t leave your child unattended, since the cloth can be a choking hazard.
Giving your child chilled pieces of raw fruit and veg to suck on and enjoy is another good way of soothing a sore mouth. However, it’s only safe to give your child fruit if they’re six months or older. Make sure all seeds have been removed beforehand. Slices of apple work well, or you could spoon feed them chilled mashed banana.
It’s always best to avoid rusks since they’re a choking hazard and don’t give your child food that’s high in sugar, either, since this can damage their new teeth.
Place a teaspoon in the fridge until it cools down and then rub the cool spoon gently against your baby’s gums, but do not give it to them to suck on or chew as this can damage their teeth.
Massage Their Gums with a Clean Finger
Wash your hands thoroughly and then place a dry, clean finger into your child’s mouth and gently massage their gums for a few minutes.
Talk to Your GP About Medicine
If your child continues to experience pain and discomfort, it’s worth making an appointment with your GP or paediatrician to discuss appropriate forms of medicinal pain relief, such as children’s paracetamol.
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