From about 3-4 months old, your baby starts drooling and chewing on her hands. Teething? Everyone from Great-Aunt Tilly to the mailman is convinced that teeth are emerging, and whether they come soon or much, much later, those chompers are on their way out.
Teething is commonly over-diagnosed and over-treated by parents. Although all babies are different, typically, baby’s first teeth erupt around 6 to 10 months of age. Your baby’s first teeth are likely to be two in the bottom front row.
Tell-Tale Signs of Teething
Your baby’s response to teething may vary from extreme discomfort and upset to not even noticing it’s happening. In addition to being the right age, signs of teething include:
- Inflammation of the gums
- Stressful reactions in the body – such as redness of the face
- Drooling more than usual
- Change in bowel movements – Often from swallowing extra saliva
- New preoccupation with gnawing on things
- Sleep disruption from discomfort
While teething does not “cause” fevers, the stress and associated lack of sleep of teething may weaken the immune system leading to more colds, coughs, earaches, and fevers. If these associated symptoms persist, consult with your pediatric practitioner.
Natural Teething Remedies for Discomfort
The goal is to keep your baby as comfortable as possible while she experiences this natural rite of passage. There are many safe, easy and natural remedies that will alleviate the discomfort of teething, including both physical pain and emotional distress.
Help you baby overcome gum irritation or pain by providing:
- Frozen washcloths she can safely chew or suck on.
- Frozen bananas to suck or chew.
- Safe chewy toys or teething rings that are free of BPA and other toxins.
- Your own clean finger rubbed gently on baby’s gums.
Safe and effective pain relieving remedies include:
- Homeopathic Remedies – Topical teething gel or internal teething tablets ease the pain for lots of teething babes – (The recent Hyland’s Teething Tablets recall is nothing to worry about. Read more here.) Homeopathic Arnica taken internally facilitates healing.
- Flower Essences – Bach Rescue Remedy soothes the nervous system when baby is stressed or panicking from pain.
- Clove Essential Oil rubbed directly on the gums numbs the area naturally.
- Chinese herbs – Ask your TCM practitioner about kid-friendly formulas such as TenderTeeth by Blue Poppy address the underlying condition causing discomfort and soothe the nervous system naturally.
- Baby ibuprofen only if absolutely necessary – ie, your baby can’t sleep or eat because of the pain. NEVER give your baby aspirin, which can cause Reye’s Syndrome, and avoid Tylenol because of potential liver toxicity.
Once your baby’s teeth begin to erupt, you can start cleaning those pearly whites and gums with a wet washcloth once or twice a day. After 1 year of age, use a baby toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste designed to be safe for babies to swallow.
The most important piece to dental health for your child is nutrition – but much more than avoiding sugar and processed foods… Read more in this post on superfoods for strong healthy teeth and this one – about the Chinese medicine perspective on dental health.