The first few years of your child’s life will be full of developmental milestones, including growing a set of healthy and strong teeth. Your little one’s primary teeth will make an appearance at around six months of age. It isn’t unusual, however, for a tooth to emerge when your baby is three months old. While it isn’t supposed to be painful for children, it is a slow process that will last until their baby teeth are complete around three years old.
Babies have varied reactions to teething. For some, it doesn’t appear to bother them at all. Others can experience extreme discomfort, and they will express it through crying spells, tantrums, or even refusal to eat. If your usually happy baby suddenly becomes inconsolable or irritable for no reason, he or she might have teeth coming in. Here are a few other signs to watch out for that may indicate your child is ready to welcome their first few teeth:
While it can be frustrating to see your child endure the teething process, it is a normal part of their development, and it is important to remember that it won’t last for an extended period. Some teeth take a few weeks to emerge fully, some only take a few days. As parents, there are a few things you can try to sooth your child and help them through this challenging time:
Give them something cool to chew on
Cold items and food can soothe aching gums. You can put their rubber or silicone teething toys in the freezer for a few hours before giving it to your child. You can also freeze their milk into popsicle molds. Be sure to allow the popsicle to defrost for a few minutes before giving it to them to enjoy.
Massage their gums
If your baby isn’t soothed with a cold treat, perhaps putting a little pressure on the gums may help. Wash your hands thoroughly, wrap your finger in sterile gauze, and dip it in some cool water. You can massage their gums with your finger in gentle, circular motions. Fingers are especially useful to get to the hard-to-reach areas in the sides of the mouth. Cleaning their gums with gauze is also a great way to start proper dental care habits, especially during infancy.
Cool down their food
Under normal circumstances, you won’t feed your child food that is hot to the touch. If your child is teething, their gums may be extra sensitive to temperatures, so even lukewarm food may irritate their gums. Cool their milk or food down to room temperature before giving it to them to make mealtimes easier.
Put them to bed early
It may not sound like a solution, but teething can make a child very cranky and irritable. Their regular sleep patterns may be disturbed by the discomfort of their teeth so they may not be getting enough sleep. Start your bedtime routine thirty minutes earlier than usual, and make sure your child has ample time to settle down for naps during the day. Helping them get enough sleep can put them in a better mood so you can lessen the likelihood of teething tantrums.
When to call the doctor
All children will develop differently, so trying different strategies is key. If you feel your child is suffering more than usual, it may be time to consult a children’s dentist to have their teeth and gums examined and to rule out any complications.
Your dentist may prescribe a teething gel or a child-safe pain reliever that can be taken orally like children’s Tylenol. Never use topical or oral medications without first seeing a dental care provider.
It may be heartbreaking to see your child suffer from erupting teeth, but helping them get through it without medicines is a safer option and will make your child more resilient in the long run. Teething pains will only last a few short days or two weeks at most, and before you know it, your child will back to their usual selves.
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