17 Home Remedies for Teething


©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Keep those jaws moving! Give your baby plenty of things to chew on to lessen teething pain.

Just when you thought your bouncing bundle had started sleeping through the night, she decides to wake up the neighborhood with a 3 A.M. concert. You wander, bleary-eyed, into her room, wondering what in the world is the matter. You pick her up and hold her for a bit. As soon as you sit in your trusty rocker, your little miss sticks your finger in her mouth and starts gnawing. She's been doing this for a few months, but tonight you feel something firm and hard protruding out of her bottom gums. Her first tooth!

Your baby's first tooth is certainly a time for rejoicing. It's a real milestone in her life. And it also explains why your kid has been a drool factory, why she's been sticking anything and everything into her mouth lately, and why she's been so cranky. By the time that first tooth cuts through the gums, your baby has endured swollen, painful, inflamed gums for days or even months. They don't call it "cutting" teeth for nothing. Getting those first teeth is an ordeal for any kid.

In this article, we'll offer 17 ways to ease the pain of teething, from home remedies using things found in your kitchen to tips about how to make your baby more comfortable. But first: What is teething, exactly?

 

Babies actually have tooth buds in place, resting right under the gums, before they're born. The primary teeth, which form before the baby is born, usually begin surfacing around six or seven months of age with a single lower central incisor. But, like many things in nature, there is a wide range of "normal" when it comes to the timing of tooth eruption. Don't be surprised, then, if a baby starts sprouting choppers at 2 months or doesn't begin teething until he or she is 12 months old.

In general, teeth begin to appear on the following schedule: the central incisors, the teeth right in the middle of the jaw on the top and bottom, come in at 6 to 12 months; lateral incisors at 9 to 13 months; canine (cuspids) at 16 to 22 months; the first molars at 13 to 19 months; and the second molars at 25 to 33 months. Most children have all of their primary teeth by age three.

The process of teething, or "cutting" all of these baby teeth, can be painful for both the baby and the caregivers. When a tooth pushes through the sensitive gum mucosa, it hurts, and the baby is likely to become cranky and fussy.

The process of getting primary teeth continues until close to the third birthday. Your sweet pea will probably get her bottom front teeth first, followed by her top front teeth. Don't fret if she has huge gaps between teeth or if the teeth grow in a little crooked. Things will straighten out over time.

By the time your little one is finished getting that first set of teeth, she'll have 20 munching, crunching teeth. These will stay in place until she's ready for permanent teeth, sometime around her sixth birthday.

Teething symptoms often include crankiness, drooling, chewing, crying, gum redness, decreased appetite, and difficulty sleeping. In addition, some babies spit up and have mild diarrhea due to gastrointestinal reactions to changes in the character and amount of their own saliva. Other babies develop a red and slightly swollen rash on the cheeks, chin, neck, and chest from the saliva's contact with the skin. Sometimes, teething causes babies to develop a mild fever, congestion, and ear pulling that often mimics middle ear infection. All of these symptoms are normal. (But of course, if you are worried, you can always call your pediatrician's office just to put your mind at ease.)

Teething is, of course, just a part of life. But there are some things you can grab in the kitchen that will ease your baby's discomfort and make her a happy camper -- at least for a while. In the next section, we'll discuss home remedies for calming teething pain.

For more information about taking care of babies, visit the following sections:

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.

Home Remedy Treatments for Teething

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Frozen bananas can help soothe teething gum pain.

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:

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.

Publications International, Ltd.

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.