Our babies sure like to keep us on our toes. As soon as we think we have this whole parenting game figured out, our little ones throw us another curveball. One minute they're the world’s best sleeper and giving you those first belly laughs, and the next they’re back to square one with sleep and nothing seems to make them happy. So what gives? There's a good chance that teething is the culprit.
Who can blame your fussy little stage five clinger for all those tears and sleepless nights? Teething can hurt! Luckily, if you know what signs to look for, you can be ready with the teething remedies you need to help them get back to feeling like themselves again.
Here we'll talk about when you can expect the teething stage, signs of teething, as well as our best remedies to keep your baby cooing and smiling while they work through the developmental stage of teething.
The Teething Stage: When and How Long
You may think the teething stage begins when you first see a tiny pearly white pop through your baby’s gums, but teething can actually start months before that. Lets dive in to how to soothe a teething baby…
So when can you expect the exciting, yet volatile, milestone of teething to show up?
First Tooth: Most babies will get their first tooth around 6 months of age, give or take. But even though that’s what’s typical, it isn’t the same for every baby. Babies born with teeth, or not getting teeth until after their first birthday is still within the range of normal, it’s just less common.
Teething, however, will begin before you see your baby’s first tooth. This is because the discomfort and teething signs begin as the tooth begins to move within the gum line as it prepares to cut through.
First Teething Signs: Most babies will show signs of teething (read on below to know the signs) sometime between 3 and 5 months old.
How Long Teething Lasts: I’d love to tell you that this stage will be short-lived, but since children will continue getting teeth through toddlerhood, we recommend keeping your best remedies at the ready through this entire period of time.
Teething won't look the same for every baby. It will leave many babies feeling very uncomfortable, while others will get new teeth without you even realizing it. So let’s talk about what signs you’ll want to look for to know your baby is teething.
Signs Your Baby is Teething
With babies’ ever-changing moods and erratic sleep, it can sometimes be hard to determine what may be the source of their discomfort. And since teething usually begins before a tooth even pops through, you don’t want to wait for that to happen to try to start looking for teething remedies.
Once you know the signs of teething, it’s usually pretty easy to spot. Knowing what to look for means that you can be prepared to help your little one through their teething discomfort.
These signs and symptoms will let you know that your baby is teething:
- Rash Around the Mouth
- Red and Swollen Gums
- More Biting and Chewing
- Poor Sleep
- Increase in Fussiness
- Want to Be Held More
- Ear Rubbing
- Decreased Interest in Eating
Can fever be a sign of teething?
According to multiple health sources, such as Web MD, anything but a slightly elevated temperature is not related to teething. Any body temperature breaking 100 F likely means your baby is sick.
At this point, it’s probably obvious to you whether or not your baby is teething. Now it’s time to find out how to help your baby through this rough patch that’s all a normal part of being a baby.
Top Remedies for Teething
There is nothing you want more than to help your baby feel good again. These are the best remedies to use for a teething baby:
1.) Use a Teether
Since biting and chewing give comfort to your baby’s sore gums, teethers are an easy way to give your baby the relief they need.
Our favorite teether comes from Tasty Tie. Tasty Tie is the world’s first wearable teething tie, perfect for the little man in your life. It securely attaches to the collar of your baby’s clothing. In the shape of a tie, it’s as functional as it is stylish. We love that it stays fastened so that your baby can have the constant teething comfort he needs.
Beyond that, teethers come in an array of different materials that are effective for soothing your baby’s tender gums. Options include:
- Silicone Teethers
- Water Teethers
- Wooden Teethers
- Teething Scarf worn by Mom
Be sure that whatever teether you choose is made of food-grade materials that are 100% safe for your baby to chew on.
2.) Massage Baby’s Gums
Gentle pressure or massage will help soothe your baby’s swollen gums. You can use your clean finger, wet gauze, or a tool specifically designed for teeth. Rubbing it along their gums will help alleviate pain associated with teething while also helping to calm and relax your baby.
3.) Give Chilled Food
Since your baby needs to eat anyway, why not make mealtime a win-win by chilling your little one’s food to soothe those uncomfortable gums at the same time? The cooling sensation that refrigeration provides will give your baby instant relief. Here are a few options we love:
- A refrigerated bagel is easy for your baby to grasp and works nicely as a homemade teething ring.
- A large carrot (not a baby carrot) straight from the fridge gives something for baby to gnaw on for an extended period of time
- Silicone teether feeders, like this one, are a great place to put your baby’s favorite pureed foods. Just refrigerate the teether and baby food and voila! You get a happy baby with a full tummy and a mouth that feels all better.
Just a reminder that the AAP recommends that parents wait to give their babies solid foods until they are 6 months of age. So this remedy is best left for the 6-month and up crowd.
4.) Refrigeration is Your Friend
Before giving your baby a teether or a piece of food, consider putting it in the refrigerator to chill for a bit. When items are cooled before being placed against your baby’s gums, they provide a numbing effect. This is a perfect way to make your little’s pain go away.
One item that you already own that feels great on your baby’s gums straight out of the fridge is a metal spoon. You can let your baby hold it and chew on it, or you can gently massage it back and forth on your baby’s gums.
It is not suggested to put teething items in the freezer, however, as this could hurt your baby’s sensitive gums.
5.) Utilize Distraction
Just like you, if your baby is able to focus on something else for a while, it can help them forget their discomfort. This is a great tactic to use when your baby is falling asleep since you don’t want to leave them with certain teethers unsupervised.
We suggest talking softly to your baby or singing them their favorite lullabies as they prepare for sleep. Utilizing white noise is another great way to soothe a teething baby at night.
You can also distract your baby while they are awake by giving them exciting toys or items that make that wonderful crinkling sound, such as the Tasty Tie teether. Making funny faces and talking in funny voices is sure to be a hit, too.
6.) Give Them Other Comforts
First and foremost, you’ll want to make your baby’s gums comfortable with targeted pain relief using one of the suggested remedies. But beyond that, giving your baby other comforts is important, too. You can:
- Give them lots of extra cuddles throughout the day.
- Wear your baby in a baby carrier so they can be close to you when they’re not feeling their best.
- Utilize a sleep sack to give them a safe and cozy substitute for a blanket while they fall asleep.
A tired baby is usually already irritable. Throw in teething and it can easily send your baby into a tailspin. Though you don’t want to get in a habit of rocking your baby to sleep, a teething baby who is in pain needs your extra TLC. Don’t worry about holding your baby too much during this time, your love is one of the best remedies for them to feel better. And like any rough patch in babyhood, it’s just a phase.
What about pain relievers?
Pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used if your baby is especially uncomfortable or having trouble sleeping, but we suggest trying the other remedies first. Always consult your pediatrician about use and dosage before administering these over-the-counter medications.
What to Avoid for Teething Relief
All of the teething remedies we listed above are safe for your baby. But you may receive advice from well-meaning friends that should be avoided. Healthy Children cautions parents to stay away from the following that may be marketed as teething relief.
DO NOT use:
- Teething tablets
- Topical Gels
- Homeopathic tablets or gels
The above contain ingredients (such as belladonna, benzocaine, and lidocaine) that can be harmful to your baby.
Amber teething necklaces are something else you should not use to relieve teething pain. This is because “necklaces placed around an infant’s neck can pose a strangulation risk or be a potential choking hazard.” You can read more about the risks here.
There is no need to use risky methods with your teething baby.
Instead, use safe measures from our top remedies for teething. Using options like the Tasty Tie teether, gum massage, chilled food, and lots of love will help your baby stay comfortable and happy.