Around the time your baby reaches the sixth-month mark, give or take a few weeks, he or she will start teething. That means tiny little baby teeth will start pushing their way up through the gums, first on the bottom, then on the top, with an additional tooth emerging every month or so until all 20 baby teeth have emerged, usually around the age of 3.
It’s a long process, this teething business, and, unfortunately, not always pleasant. Babies’ gums can get sore and tender, upping the cranky quotient. Anything within your baby’s reach becomes a potential chew toy. There may be lots and lots of drool.
But you can get through it. If your baby will tolerate it, try rubbing her gums with your own, clean, finger. Like rubbing a sore muscle, this can bring some relief. You can wrap your finger in first-aid (sterile) gauze if you want to too.
Consider buying some special teething toys as well; those products designed to be chilled in the fridge can work wonders. In a pinch, take a washcloth, moisten it, ball it up and refrigerate until cool (but not icy) and let the baby gnaw on that. For more options, take a look at The Bump’s Top 10 teething toys— we especially like the Chewbeads, a line of chunky necklaces made of 100% silicone with no detachable parts. Genius!
A teething tot might also enjoy chewing on a big giant carrot a la Bugs Bunny—washed and peeled of course. But keep a close eye in case a large choking hazard-size hunk becomes dislodged. Zwieback crackers are good for a gnaw as well.Another great idea that one mom shared on The Bump: freezing a bit of your breast milk, then breaking off small pieces for your fussy teether to suck on. You might also try putting chilled grapes or another fruit inside a mesh food feeder like the Munchkin.
When all else fails, ask your pediatrician if it’s OK to give your baby an over-the-counter pain reliever such as infant Tylenol (acetaminophen) or infant Motrin (ibuprofen). You should always consult your doctor before medicating a child under the age of 2.
Steer clear of local anesthetics though; there are too many risks involved, according to the FDA. Borrowing a little of your friend’s liquid lidocaine (a medication often prescribed to give chemo patients relief from mouth ulcers) is a no-no, and you should also avoid topical medications containing benzocaine.