Teething can cause infants pain -- and it's mom to the rescue! A number of home remedies exist to help babies feel better (and moms get some peace and quiet). The following are some suggested teething pain solutions, many of which include simple foods or kitchen items.
Home Remedies from the Freezer
Banana for baby. Stick a banana in the freezer, and then let baby put the soothing, sweet treat to her gums.
Ice a Towel. Wrap some ice in a dishtowel and let baby suck on the towel. The cold ice will keep swelling down and ease baby's pain. But don't let her suck on just the ice -- it can harm your baby's gums.
Home Remedies from the Cupboard
Ice a baby bottle. One trick for making baby happier during teething is to put water in a baby bottle and freeze the bottle upside down (so the water is frozen at the nipple). Give it to the baby when he gets fussy, and let him chew on the cold, comforting nipple for a while.
Offer a teething biscuit. These hard, unsweetened, cracker-like biscuits are great for gnawing on when teeth are making their way through the gums.
Home Remedies from the Drawer
Wet a dishcloth. Put a clean, wet dishcloth or towel in the refrigerator, and let it get cold. Then give it to Junior, and let him gnaw away on the cloth. This will help ease inflamed gums and will just plain feel good in baby's mouth.
Slide your baby a spoon. Take a tip from the American Dental Association -- stick a spoon in the fridge for a few hours, and then let baby have at it. The cold metal against her gums will put a smile on her face.
Home Remedies from the Refrigerator
All applesauce. Cold foods like straight-from-the-fridge applesauce taste good and are gum-friendly.
Buy a bagel. Refrigerate an ordinary bagel, and it will become your very own homemade teething ring. It's great for babies to gum on while they're getting teeth in and can help ease that teething ache.
Find fruit. You might try giving the baby apple wedges, or for younger babies, apple wedges placed in a washcloth that you hold.
Carry a carrot. Get a carrot -- a full-sized carrot, not miniature "baby" carrots -- out of the fridge, wash it thoroughly or peel it, and let your baby gum it to her heart's content.
Home Remedies from the Medicine Cabinet
Try pain relievers. An over-the-counter pain reliever designed specifically for children, such as children's-strength liquid acetaminophen (Children's Liquid Tylenol is one brand), can offer relief for up to four hours. You can't give children pain relievers around the clock, however, so save them for when they are most needed -- such as bedtime or when none of the other suggestions is helping. Be sure to follow the package directions carefully, and don't give the medicine more often than three times in 24 hours. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics, click here. The amount you give your baby is based on weight, so if you're not sure how much to give, check with your pediatrician. Warning: Never give aspirin to a baby, as this could lead to Reye syndrome, a life-threatening condition.
Numb those gums. Commercial oral anesthetic teething gels (for example, Orajel and Anbesol) give temporary relief (30 to 40 minutes worth) and can often get baby through a difficult time.
Home Remedies from Mom
Massage those gums. Gentle pressure can help relieve teething pain. Softly rub the baby's gums with a clean finger.
Distract them. The best solution may be to keep your baby's mind off his or her erupting gums. Try playing together with a favorite toy or rocking or dancing around with the child in your arms. Sometimes, a rousing game of peekaboo is all that's needed to distract baby from the discomfort.
Let 'em chew. Chewing can help teeth work their way through the gums, so keep your baby's jaws moving. Any object is fair game as long as it's clean, nontoxic, chewable, and either too large or too small to block the child's airway should it get swallowed.
Keep a towel handy. Teething often causes plenty of drooling, and the saliva can cause skin irritation that will only make baby feel more uncomfortable. Keep a soft towel handy to wipe off the baby's mouth and chin area. If that isn't enough, protect the skin with petroleum jelly or zinc oxide ointment.
Keep the mouth clean. The American Dental Association says it's never too early to keep your baby's teeth and gums clean. Rub those gums with some gauze or a fresh cloth to clean the area and soothe teething pain. If your baby has already sprouted some teeth, try brushing them with a soft, child's toothbrush.
Teething won't last forever -- but while it does last, the above tricks can help moms comfort and calm their new babies. At least for a little while!
For more information about taking care of babies, visit the following sections:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- For tips on new baby care, read our How to Care for a Newborn section.
- New moms don't always have it easy. If you're wondering why this kid didn't come with an instruction manual, check out How to Adjust to a Newborn.
- Feeling a little tender? Read our Home Remedies for Breast-Feeding Discomfort section.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.
Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.
Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.
Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.
ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:
Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.
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This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.