If a tooth slowly pushed its way through your gums every few months, you'd be as cranky as your baby. Teething is a natural, harmless, yet deeply frustrating process for both you and your baby. The solution that provided relief one month might not soothe her when the next tooth comes in. This means you'll need to try a variety of approaches. The good news: Every time you ease your baby's discomfort, you'll feel like her personal superhero.
Move over, family dog—a teething baby will chew on anything. The pressure of biting helps relieve some of the discomfort in your baby's mouth, so pull her away before she chomps down on a chair leg and hand her something safe to chew. Pick a hard, rubber teething ring rather than a liquid-filled type that could be punctured. Refrigerating a teething ring might bring your baby extra relief, but never freeze it; HealthyChildren warns that frozen teething rings can injure a baby's mouth. Your little chewer might also enjoy nibbling on a teething blanket or on a mesh feeder filled with crushed ice or large chunks of frozen fruit. She'll get the relief of pressure on her gums without the choking risk.
Snack Away the Pain
Her first tooth might appear before she's started eating solid food, so at the beginning of teething, your baby can't get much relief from eating. But once she can sit up on her own and bring her hands to her mouth, HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says she can start munching on finger foods. Start with soft, cold foods such as applesauce, or offer teething biscuits and wafers. Pieces of plain toast will be satisfying for her to chew as well. Don't give a baby any large foods to chew on however. A whole frozen banana might help with pain relief, but it's a choking hazard.
Go Back to Basics
Simple home remedies might be your baby's favorite. When you're rocking your restless, teething baby, slip a clean finger in her mouth and rub the gums in a rhythmic motion. Once she's past the age of 12 months, HealthyChildren.org says you can massage her gums with an ice cube wrapped in a wet cloth. A washcloth soaked with water and stored in the fridge makes a satisfying chew toy for a baby with aching gums.
When your baby is miserable, it's tempting to reach for a product that claims it will take her pain away. HealthyChildren.org points out that a teething baby drools so much that medication applied to her gums will wash away. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns against the use of benzocaine, an ingredient in many over-the-counter teething solutions that can cause a potentially fatal blood disorder. If nothing else seems to soothe her, talk to her pediatrician about giving her a mild pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Never give your baby any medication without consulting the doctor first.