Teething is a key stage in a baby's development and begins anywhere between the age of three and 12 months, continuing until sometime between their second and third birthday.
It's common for teething to cause little one's some discomfort as their first teeth come in, and because they're not able to verbally communicate how they're feeling in the early stages, it can be hard to know how to soothe their painful gums.
Don’t worry, teething isn’t a constant process, and each tooth or pair of teeth should only cause your baby pain for just over a week. Five days ahead of an appearance – ‘eruption day’ – and three days afterwards.
We know that no parent likes to see their little one in pain. Luckily, there are things you can do to ease their discomfort. We've got some handy tips to help you both through the tricky times that teething can bring.
- Offering your baby a teething toy: Teethers can relieve sore, sensitive gums. You can also pop them in the fridge (not the freezer) so they're nice and cool. There's lots of different types available, from teething mitts and silicone teethers to baby-safe natural rubber, wooden and plastic teethers.
- Keep their face dry: Gently wiping baby's face with a soft cloth or bib to keep it dry and drool-free can help prevent a facial rash.
- Giving them something cold to chew on: A cold surface can help soothe discomfort in your little one’s mouth. You can freeze a teether or soft comforter and let your baby chew on the knotted corners. The cold fabric has a soothing, numbing effect. Just remember to put the comforter in a freezer bag to keep it separate from other items in your freezer.
- Massaging their gums: You can use a clean finger to massage around their gums for one to two minutes. This often soothes their pain and distracts them.
- Offer some cool foods: Foods such as a puree or yogurt straight from the fridge can offer some relief to teething babies. You can also offer little ones over six months old raw carrot sticks or cucumber batons, or offer them a good old ice cube wrapped in a soft muslin cloth to chew on.
- Using teething gel: If your baby's over four months old, you can rub sugar-free gel on their gums. These gels are often formulated with a mild anaesthetic to numb pain, and antiseptic to prevent infection. Talk to your GP or a pharmacist before you use teething gel on younger babies.
- Giving your baby a sugar-free pain killer: If teething is painful and causing your baby to have a mild raised temperature (less than 38°C), you can ask your doctor or pharmacist about sugar-free painkillers that're designed for babies and young children. These contain a small dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen. It’s important to note that anyone under 16 shouldn't be given aspirin.
- Giving lots of extra love and cuddles: Teething can be upsetting for both you and your baby, so extra cuddles can really help! You can also sing and talk to them so they know you’re right there with them to help them.
- Try a nice bath: Letting your baby have a splash in a warm, relaxing bath will distract them and also help to relive any tension in their body before bedtime. Just remember to check the temperature of their bath to make sure it's not too warm or cold.
Remember, different soothing techniques will work for each baby, so don’t lose heart if it takes some time to find one that’s right for your little one.