Photo courtesy of http://thejoyofcaitlin.com/
My friend who is a new mother texted me today asking what to do about teething. I had to give it some thought before I remembered. Maybe I didn’t want to remember. Teething is damn tough and no one ever warns new mothers about it. Here are some tips. As always, the first and most important thing is talk to your kid and let him or her know that you know it is no fun and that it is going to be ok. After that, see below..
1 Distraction is the key. Try something to distract.
2 Anything that works is likely to only work for a limited period of time. Don’t freak out just try something different.
3 Homeopathic remedies can be particularly useful in young children and are very safe. There are great homeopathic remedies for teething. Hylands makes a “teething tablet” which is a combination of homeopathic remedies known to be helpful for teething. I have found this remedy to be effective for growing pain in oder children as well. I found them very helpful. Also homeopathic camomile is calming and pulsatilla if the child is acting very clingy. Calc phos has been useful for us for teething as well as for growing pains in older children.
4 Sometimes teething causes abdominal discomfort. Try rubbing castor oil or some salve on the belly and place a warm compress like a hot water bottle for soothing.
5 Get out. Put that screaming kid in a carrier or stroller or car and get a change of scenery.
6 Get moving. Some teething babies respond very well to motion. Baby carrier, stroller, car, grocery cart, all are good options.
7 Try to avoid using pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for teething. Save it for emergencies. If you are so exhausted that you feel like you are going to hurt someone or something, I would classify that as an emergency. Give that kid something to let you both sleep at night. There are health risks with all medications though, so make sure to think it through.
8 Some people find it useful to make some camomile tea, wet a washcloth with it, and put it in the freezer and give it to the baby. My kids didn’t go for it but I have heard many reports that it worked for them. I am a strong advocate for exclusive breastfeeding before 6 months, and this means nothing but breastmilk, so I would not do this in a 4 month old for example. You can drink the tea and feed your breastfeeding infant. Breastmilk is a fantastic delivery system in this way.
9 I used to give a carrot or stalk of celery from the fridge for a baby to teeth on. This is not safe if you are planning on trying to do other things though. You have to really watch.
10 Some people use amber teething necklaces like the one in the photo with their children. I have no personal experience with these as my youngest hasn’t teethed in a few years, and knowledge of this technique is relatively new to me. She does love her amber bead necklace though and it does have a grounding effect on her when she wears it. It has a grounding effect on me too just because it looks so beautiful and wholesome on her.
11 Hang out with other people, they can help you keep your child occupied and distracted. Find other moms that you like to spend time with. Community is important.
12 Often teething is accompanied with congestion. I found that any time I gave a baby or toddler something that required hard sucking when they were congested, they often had ear pain soon after. In other words, I would avoid pacifiers, sippy cups with valves, and bottles with small holes. Also if you can breastfeed in a a more upright position, that can help prevent ear pressure from developing while nursing.
13 I am not much for running to the doctor for every little rash and fever, really I’m not. I think it is important for new parents to know however that if a cough develops, and you are not sure if it is just post nasal congestion related, get it listened to by a trusted professional. A cough in a baby can be very dangerous.
14 Put out your thumb. One day, when my first baby was teething, he was screaming his head off and I was loosing my mind. My friend Sarah who had four children of her own, offered to take him for a few minutes from me. I rarely let anyone hold my baby in those days but I was desperate. She took him, put him in a sling, and stuck her thumb in his mouth right where she felt his gums were bulging, while rocking. He just teethed on her thumb happily for an hour until he fell asleep while she and I chatted. Thank you Sarah, you saved my life.
15 Exhaustion is your worst enemy. It can make a baby’s cry feel like a chainsaw to your brain rendering you ineffective and even dangerous as a parent. Seriously, the laundry can wait, and despite your ambitious intentions you can’t write a decent thesis (or blog post) when you are having a nervous breakdown. Well, maybe a blog post… Take naps when your baby is sleeping. No, I am not joking. Speaking of which, I think I hear my pillow calling me right about …now…zzzzzz