At around six months of age, your child may engage in glass-shattering screaming fits and it isn't out of hunger or losing their favourite toy -- it's the dreaded teething period. The process isn't called 'cutting a tooth' for nothing -- the pain of new teeth piercing through the gums will be unlike anything they have experienced so far, so it's important to do what you can to soothe your child.
Here are a few tips to help ease your baby through the teething process.
Invest in quality teething toys
There's a reason why children begin to chew everything in sight during teething -- they're trying to relieve pain from their swollen and inflamed gums. Thankfully, good quality teething toys make a far better alternative to daddy's fingers, mummy's hair or the cat's tail, so be sure to give your baby a range of soft and colourful teething rings and toys to experiment with instead.
Make a start on their dental care
As soon as your baby's first tooth appears, arrange a visit with your dentist. This can be anytime within six months of their first tooth appearing, but no later than your child's first birthday. The earlier you can take your child for their first dental inspection, the quicker they can develop clean, healthy oral habits that may help to reduce their discomfort.
It's a good idea to schedule a morning appointment for your baby's first check-up since this is when they are more likely to be restful and cooperative. A dentist like Kooringal Dental Surgery may discuss things like finger-sucking habits and the use of a pacifier (if applicable), helping to provide you with the best tips on daily oral care based on your child's habits and coping mechanisms.
Ensure they are comfortable in other ways
Babies don't only need to contend with the physical pain of teeth coming through -- there are many other symptoms of teething that can make life a misery during these months. Because of the new changes and the increased amount of saliva produced during teething, it can be common for your child to have a decreased appetite, stomach upset and sleeping trouble (hence the 4 am wake-up calls).
While not every child will display these symptoms, they are entirely normal during teething and can be aided by feeding your baby teething friendly foods or else engaging in different, fun activities when they refuse to eat as a distraction from the pain.
As above-mentioned, the increased amounts of saliva can cause extra discomfort when it comes to your baby drooling. In drooling so often on themselves, babies can often develop a rash on their cheeks, chin, neck or chest from the saliva's frequent contact with the skin. Baby lotions can clear this up, but you should make sure you always have flannels and face cloths handy to keep them dry and comfortable. Also, ensure their skin is properly dried and moisturised after bath time.
- The spoon trick: Put a spoon in the fridge for a few hours and let your child gnaw on it 'till their heart's content. The cold metal will feel great against inflamed little gums.
- Massage therapy: Gentle pressure on their gums can help relieve a little discomfort. Using a clean finger, try rubbing it softly across your baby's gum line.
- For budget teething toys, some foods can make an effective substitute: Try a frozen banana, a peeled carrot, a bagel or a wedge of apple. When chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours, these three can be great for your baby to chew on, providing cool and soothing relief from the terrors of teething.