Parents are very excited to see their babies reach milestones. Baby’s first tooth is also a milestone, usually occurring around their 7th month.
Unfortunately, baby’s teething experience doesn’t always bring as much joy as the other “baby’s firsts” such as rolling over, sitting or crawling.
Teething can be a stressful experience for both mother and baby. It brings about symptoms that makes baby uncomfortable. The discomforts of teething can lead to a cranky, crying baby.
When a baby is teething, the tooth may take a while before it pushes through the gums. It may take as long as one month before the tooth is visible.
So how do you know if baby is teething? Here are some common teething symptoms:
1. Baby has an urge to chew and bite on things.
Don’t be surprised if baby reaches out for your fingers and starts chomping on it quite aggressively. However, the more common sight would be to see baby’s own fingers in the mouth.
2. Excessive drooling.
3. There may be some gum swelling and redness.
4. Some parents have reported rashes appearing in places such as baby’s cheek, around the jaw, chin, mouth and even baby’s neck. These are also known as teething rash.
5. Low grade temperature.
6. Diarrhea or loose stools.
Professionals may dispute this symptom and say it is not connected to teething. However, many parents do notice this change in their baby’s bowel movement during the teething period.
A study on teething symptoms done by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia also noted that this was the most common symptom cited by the parents in their study.
However, we must not disregard the fact that it may not be the teething process that attributes to the loose stools.
It could well be baby’s increased behavior in putting his un-sterile hands and objects in his mouth. No doubt there are plenty of germs entering baby’s body that way. The increased production in saliva may be another cause of diarrhea.
7. Reduced appetite.
I don’t think you would be eating much too if you had an irritable gum.
8. Interrupted sleep at night.
9. Cold like symptoms like runny nose.
As mentioned earlier, teething is a stressful event, and we know that stress can lower a person’s immune system, even baby’s.
A lowered immune system makes babies prone to infections. Practitioners will also tell you that the immunity levels of children are lowest when they are between 6 months to 2 years old.
Children will differ in the symptoms they have and how they react to them. If you’re lucky, you may have a baby that breezes through the teething period.
If not, what can you do to sooth a cranky, teething baby?
1. As a general rule, chewing on anything cold will ease a baby’s discomfort. So if you are considering teething rings, get ones that can be refrigerated.
Chewing on an icy cloth helps too. Some mothers also recommend chilled cucumbers and apple slices.
2. Use a clean finger to massage the sore gums.
3. Pharmacies have teething gels available. However, its effectiveness is not guaranteed. Some parents say it helps, and some say it doesn’t. If you are at your wits end, you could give it a try.
4. To bring down the fever, give baby some fever and pain medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Also, consult with your doctor if the fever persists or gets too high.
Babies fuss for a varied number of reasons. Their inability to communicate makes it difficult for us to figure out what’s bothering them.
To know if the root of their crankiness is teething, look out for the teething signs. Then try out the suggestions above to sooth the irritation.