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Health and Fitness News

Baby Teething? Gnaw on This

What to know about teething babies.

The first smile, the first coo, the first steps. A baby’s first everything is reason to celebrate. But sometimes, baby’s first few teeth come with pain and discomfort, crying and fussiness. What can parents expect as the first teeth break through? Are there things parents can do to soothe their baby’s sore gums?

While all babies are different and handle teething differently, here are a few tips to help new parents to weather the teething time.

What to Expect

A baby is toothless the first few months of life. Typically between the ages of four and seven months, the first few teeth begin to break through, but some babies don’t get their teeth till much later. The front two bottom teeth usually pop through first, followed by the top two front teeth.

Parents can assume their baby is teething when they notice the following changes:

• Baby’s gums may look swollen and feel tender.
• Baby may drool more than normal and want to chew or gnaw on whatever he can put in his mouth.
• Baby will probably be more fussy than normal and cry for no apparent reason.
• Baby may run a slight fever less than 100.4 F.
• With all these symptoms going on, don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t sleep or eat as well.

What Not to Expect

Your baby may feel some discomfort and be more cranky than normal, but teething doesn’t make a baby sick. Unlike what some believe, a high fever, congestion, cough, rash, diarrhea, and vomiting are not normal symptoms of teething. These indicate illness of some sort. Make an appointment with your pediatrician if your baby exhibits these symptoms.

What to Do

Sometimes it’s a guessing game for parents to figure out what will help soothe their baby’s sore gums. What works for one baby, may not help another. Try these out until you find a solution that works.

Many babies find relief by gnawing on something cold like a wet washcloth, a cool pacifier, or a solid, cool teething ring. Avoid giving your baby anything frozen.

Let your baby chew on toys or other baby-safe, clean objects. For an older baby, sometimes a teething cracker and cool water are enough to bring temporary relief.

You can also try massaging your baby’s gums or let a toothless baby gnaw on your finger. If you offer a finger, just make sure your finger is clean.

If you can tell teething is causing great discomfort to your baby, give infants’ acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

What Not to Do

While it’s vital to know how to help your teething tot find relief, knowing what not to do is just as important.

Some parents let their babies wear teething necklaces made with beads for babies to gnaw on. Use these necklaces with extreme caution, as they’ve been known to strangle or when broken, choke babies. If you do give your baby a teething necklace, put it on your baby’s wrist or ankle instead of around the neck, and only let baby have it when you’re supervising.

You may be tempted to rub over-the-counter medicated teething gel on your baby’s gums to numb the soreness. Unfortubately, these gels quickly wash away and will likely have little effect. If you still choose to use a teething gel, avoid those with benzocaine or lidocaine, two ingredients that can be harmful or even fatal to young babies.

Be wary of homeopathic teething tablets that may contain ingredients not regulated by the FDA.

Caring for New Teeth

When your baby’s first teeth break through, use a child’s soft-bristled toothbrush with a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to gently clean baby’s teeth two times each day. If anything seems abnormal, contact your pediatrician.

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