Teething: What every mama needs to know
If your baby is anything like mine, teething is a nightmare from the moment it begins until that cute but sharp little peg cuts through. My son began showing signs of teething from about 3 months old. As usual, most people would say this was too early or unlikely. I’m sure it is unlikely, I know lots of babies don’t start their teething journey until almost a year old! But just like everything when it comes to babies…they are all so different.
I have a lovely group of mum friends who all have babies of a similar age and it is clear just from that small group that stages of teething can differ vastly. My son was the first to have his teeth come through and there are some at nearly 9 months old who still have none. Does it matter? Of course not. What matters is how they react to this discomfort and how you can get through it with your sanity intact.
I don’t like to say that my baby has been difficult, but…he has.
From difficulties latching, to barely sleeping, to crying every single day, numerous times a day, to not taking bottles for months, to not wanting to be held by anyone other than his parents…to suffering badly with his little teeth; this boy has not made it easy for me! Do I love him any less? Absolutely not. Have I wished for an easier ride at times? 100 per cent. But when I look back at all of these difficult times, I remind myself that it is all so temporary. It does pass and it does get better, and then I wonder what on earth I was going on about. When you are in it, though, it is mentally draining and I’m not going to pretend it isn’t.
Which is why, any form of help, no matter how small, was welcomed by me and I want to share it with you now!
How can you tell if your baby is teething?
Obviously, this comes hand in hand with being a baby, but when they’re teething…the drool is everywhere, constantly. You will be changing bibs and clothes countless times a day.
2. Trying to bite/chew/suck EVERYTHING.
It starts off cute when they start sucking on your finger or their chubby little fists, but it soon moves onto every item they can get their paws on…whether that’s your phone, the TV remote or the edge of a table.
3. Rubbing their face or ears.
Babies can do this for a number of reasons, but when you’ve ruled out infections or allergies and combine it with all the other symptoms…it’s usually down to teething.
4. Rejecting food.
Some babies will go off their food, whether that’s breastmilk, formula or solids. The discomfort from teething can really put them off.
Apparently, not all babies are that grumpy with teething. Mine was. He would cry on and off all day long when he was teething, and inbetween crying would be whinging and moaning. This was by far, the biggest challenge for us as he would burst into tears at any moment, in any place and we struggled to be social during these times.
6. Trouble sleeping.
As if it’s not hard enough getting a baby to sleep…teething comes along and makes it even harder. Cheers! Teething can cause your baby to struggle to get to sleep, or simply wake up much more often during the night or naps.
7. A visible sign of tooth!
Now, I didn’t see any sign of a tooth for a few months with my son’s first. When I did, it probably took another week before it then cut through. With the next ones, the wait was quicker and I saw the white buds quite early on.
Myths about teething.
Lots of us hear about other signs that your baby could be teething, but some of these are not related.
- Runny nose
There is no proof that these symptoms are connected to teething, even if they occur at the same time. Even pulling and rubbing at their ears can be a sign of an ear infection instead, so it’s worth getting them checked just to make sure.
On another note, everyone has heard of how awful teething can be, or have they? I felt that with the way my child was screaming, it was something much more sinister. I went to doctors believing it to be ear infections or reflux, I called the Health visitor round to show her how much pain he seemed to be in. Her words were that it wasn’t ‘normal’, so this only fueled my concerns. Yet, after a couple of months of wondering what on earth was wrong with my baby…he magically changed, just after his two bottom teeth emerged. I still didn’t quite believe it could be down to teething, until the next two made their appearance and all the same symptoms came back. The inconsolable random crying, the aggressive ear tugging, the generally grumpiness…followed by a very happy, smiley baby the day after they cut through. So if you’re like me and had no idea how bad it could actually be, you are not alone. It can seem like hell. So…
What helps a teething baby?
Teethers (See my Top 5 teething toys here!)
Teething rings and toys can help distract from the pain and discomfort as well as encouraging the teeth to cut through the gums. It can be soothing for them to knaw on. For us, it was invaluable to have these different toys for him…especially on days out!
I tried all sorts of gels and powders and didn’t seem to see any major improvement for my baby, however, I know lots of parents who have sworn by anbesol and ashtons so it’s worth a go!
If your baby is old enough (6 months+ is advised in the UK), then giving them some harder food to chew on, such as cucumber, carrot or apple. I was also told frozen banana is good for this although I’m yet to try it!
If your baby is clearly in a lot of pain and distress, then the simple painkillers are always worth a shot. I personally try not to give this too often, although it does work when he is inconsolable. Just remember to read the dosage instructions.
Drying the drool
Wearing dribble bibs and having a muslin to hand at all times helped with catching that drool as much as we could to avoid any rashes or extra discomfort on his skin.
Sometimes, all you can do (not a bad thing) is give that little munchkin a good old fashioned mama cuddle. It’s usually the best medicine if they’re just irritable and uncomfortable.
How long is the teething stage for babies?
As I mentioned above, teething can start as early as three months, or later than a year old and apparently it goes on for a year sometimes! Looks like I’ll be stocking up on more teething toys for months to come!
And remember, it’s OK to feel like screaming yourself. It’s normal to feel exhausted and defeated. Ask for help when you need it. Take time for yourself when you can and remind yourself ‘this too shall pass’.