Being a parent is never easy, but it’s what we sign up for. However, us parents often have to jump through hoops we never expected or wanted to jump through. For example, the several months our child deals with teething troubles might be one of the most frustrating times for babies and parents alike. Initially, we think teething time will be easy and short-lived, but it really isn’t. Many children experience teething for over a year, and sleep problems and extra crying are sure to follow.
You love your baby, but you might be suffering greatly while they’re teething. There’s a lot of pain going on during this time and understandably so. You can’t completely avoid or resolve this moment. But, luckily, there are ways to make this process smoother for both Baby as well as you, the parent.
What is the Purpose of Teething?
One of the best ways to help your child while they’re teething is to understand why they do it. When you don’t understand why it happens or how painful it might be, it’ll be harder for you to comfort your little one. And until you understand, it’ll be easier for you to feel frustrated with the situation and harder for you to find sympathy. Generally, your mental health will be in shambles without a little understanding.
Teething is simply the process of the growth of the first teeth or the primary (baby) teeth. It happens to the best of us. Why does it have to be so painful, you might ask? Imagine a hard, sharp tooth emerging through soft gum tissue. Youch! Not to mention, there are a lot of nerves in the gum tissue. So, it’s no wonder there’s so much pain involved, let alone, pain that your baby isn’t used to experiencing. They aren’t quite sure what’s going on and certainly don’t know how to react or what to do to resolve such pain. It’s only natural for your little one to be a bit confused and extra moody during this new pain they’re experiencing in a new spot on their body.
The important thing to remember as a parent is, teething is a time that cannot be avoided. Getting through this from a parent’s perspective isn’t easy, but it’s inevitable. Children need their primary teeth to eat and speak, and in order for that to happen, they must go through the horrible stage of teething. There’s really no other way, but one thing is for sure: seeing our infant get their first tooth should be an exciting time, one that we should be grateful for.
Signs and Symptoms of Teething
Many parents know that teething normally starts around six months of age. However, every child is different. Some begin before four months. Others don’t begin teething until after 12 months of age. The only way to really know if your baby is teething is to look out for the signs and symptoms. This way, you can be in tune with your baby. And when you’re in tune with your baby, it will be easier to provide them the comfort that they need.
One of the first signs that your infant is experiencing teething troubles is extra fussiness. Your baby, who’s normally pretty mellow, might cry and scream more often. They may appear grouchier than usual rather than their usual smiley self. You check to see if their diaper is dirty. Nope. You make sure they don’t have signs of illness. Nada. Their clothes don’t seem to be uncomfortably tight and neither does their diaper. Then what’s with all the fuss? They might be teething, but of course, they can’t directly communicate that.
Other signs of a teething baby might include excess drooling, irritated skin around their mouth, a mild fever, ear-rubbing (a baby’s way of trying to relax from something discomforting or stressful), or gum inflammation.
A teething baby may also frequently put their hand in their mouth as a form of comfort. Others might find foreign objects such as a blanket or toy to chew on. This is the only way a baby can really soothe themselves while teething. After all, they don’t exactly have a lot of knowledge or resources regarding making themselves feel better. That’s where you come in as the parent to provide further assistance.
Getting Through Those Teething Troubles
At this point, you’re probably barely holding onto your sanity. Your infant keeps waking up in tears. You can barely get a good night’s rest and neither can your child. Every time you go out in public, your baby wails due to their teething troubles. On top of that, you can’t stand seeing your kiddo in so much pain, especially when you feel like there’s nothing you can do but let them get through these tough times. Only, that there is something that you can do.
Some things you can do to help your teething child include:
- Giving them a variety of teething toys or teething mittens (Every child has their own preferences.)
- Providing your child a cold object to chew on to numb the pain (e.g., a popsicle, chilled fruit, or frozen teething toy)
- Using over-the-counter teething medicine
- Placing a cold spoon into your baby’s mouth during times of pain
- Lightly massaging your baby’s gums with a soft, wet cloth or a clean finger every day
- Wiping the drool away, which can help prevent irritation
- Providing your baby extra love and attention
- Singing to your kiddo and rocking them while they’re particularly fussy
When Teething Goes Wrong
In some cases, it may seem like your baby will never stop teething. They seem to be getting fussier by the second, and you feel like there’s nothing left for you to do. Or, maybe your baby is experiencing a fever, a pretty gnarly rash around their mouth, or severe sleeping and eating problems because of teething. It seems like things are only getting worse. Yikes!
In any of the latter cases, it’s best to take your baby to a trusted pediatrician. They may be able to further investigate the situation. Often, excess pain or even an infection might be to blame for your child’s serious teething troubles (or even something completely unrelated on top of teething). It’s possible that you may need special instructions to help your baby, or your baby might require medicine prescribed by a medical professional. And if your baby’s gums are looking extra irritated, it might be best to take a trip to a pediatric dentist just to be on the safe side.
When it comes to your baby’s symptoms and perceived level of comfort, use your best judgment. Don’t worry about being too safe; sometimes things can be more serious than they might appear. And certainly don’t be worried about giving your baby “too much attention” while they’re teething; they need you more than ever.
While you surely don’t want your child to ever have to deal with discomfort like this, it’s time to step up to the plate as Superman or Superwoman to give your child what they need. Be patient, try different tactics, and remember that this stressful time will pass both for you and your baby. Sure enough, your baby will have their first set of primary teeth and be ready to enter the stage of caring for their pearly whites! Exciting things are soon to come.