Teething is a new parent’s worst nightmare. Your baby is crying, in pain and probably tired. But even though it’s tempting to call up your grandma and ask about old wives’ tales, or grab a store-bought solution, those aren’t always the best moves. Teething happens to every baby, but the important thing to remember is that it won’t last forever. You will sleep again someday! This is the scoop that parents need to know about teething.
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Teething Should Not Cause Fevers
A fever is the result of illness, not pain. A baby’s body temperature may feel elevated if they’ve been crying a lot or wrapped up for bed, but those types of increases should go away quickly. If your baby has a low-grade fever that lasts a few hours or days, it’s not because of teething. Instead, it means her body is trying to fight off illness. While that may sound bad, it’s a good thing! It means your child’s immune system is working diligently to keep them as healthy as possible.
There’s a Wide Range of ‘Normal’
While most babies will get their first teeth between four and seven months, the normal range for teething is much broader. Some kids will get their first tooth at three months, and some won’t have any until over a year old! All of those things are perfectly fine, and should not cause you to worry. The earlier your baby’s teeth come in, the sooner you can get past the teething stage. If they come in later, you get to avoid the drama for longer!
Some Drool Is Normal, but Not Too Much
Excessive drooling could be a sign of another problem, like an illness or poor oral awareness. Drooling will increase somewhat when a baby is teething, but it should never be excessive. If you notice your baby is constantly drooling, or if they continue drooling a lot after their second birthday, ask your pediatrician about it. It could be a sign of something more serious.
Chew Toys are Necessary
Babies like to chew on everything, from their hands to their feet to your shirt. They may brush off the idea of those cute chew toys you got for them and go for a cold, wet washcloth instead. If their chewing item of choice isn’t going to hurt them, don’t fight them on it too much. If you have that rare baby who likes to use the toys you buy them, you should know some teething aids are better than others.
Many store-bought chew toys are just too big. Babies need to chew on their entire gum surface, not only the front. If your baby isn’t interested in a teething toy, it’s probably not hitting the right spots. This is why a cold washcloth often works so well. They can get every spot on their gums, but it’s still too big for them to swallow!
Treat the Child, Not the Symptoms
Lastly, if your child has a giant, bruised spot on their gums and you can tell a tooth is coming through, it doesn’t mean they need medicine. On the other hand, if you don’t see anything, but your child is in obvious pain and is old enough for Tylenol, there’s no harm in giving them some. Make sure to avoid aspirin, since it’s not safe for babies, children or even teens. Just like anything else, striking a balance is important. Don’t refuse treatment when it’s necessary, but don’t dole it out to head pain off preemptively!
Feeding Strikes Are Normal
When a baby is right on the verge of having their teeth pop through, it can be pretty painful for them. Their appetite may decrease, and they may eat less. This can be incredibly stressful for parents! In reality, the pain will probably pass before the baby can lose any weight. In the meantime, try to add some extra liquids, like formula or smoothies, if they’re old enough.
Homeopathic Gels and Tablets Aren’t Necessary
The main issue with homeopathic remedies is that they are not regulated at all, by anyone. As a result, they can be mislabeled and poorly produced. In one such incident, a popular teething tablet that was improperly manufactured wound up injuring several, and possibly hundreds, of babies. The FDA has issued a statement against the use of teething tablets and gels because they aren’t regulated and have no proven medical use.
The second danger is when some parents assume a medicine labeled as “all-natural” can’t hurt their child. They may end up exceeding the recommended doses. Even a homeopathic medicine is still a medicine, and must be handled with the same care you would give a conventional treatment.
Amber Necklaces Have No Basis in Pain Relief
Amber teething necklaces are potentially dangerous. There is no scientific evidence to support the idea of pain relief, so it’s more likely that they simply provide parents with a placebo effect. That, on its own, is not a problem. However, necklaces are a choking hazard, and babies should never be allowed to wear them to bed or in any unsupervised area. The risk does not outweigh the reward.
Teething is a normal, but painful, period in a child’s life. The best way to get through it is just to let it take its course. Keep an eye on your baby, do your best to get enough sleep — and try to remember, this too shall pass.