Teething is an expected developmental process, but the havoc it wreaks on your household is anything but normal. Babies typically begin teething between 4 and 12 months and gain, on average, one tooth per month until all 20 teeth come in, says Dr. Jerry Rubin in his book "Naturally Healthy Kids." Teething symptoms range from almost none at all to irritability, fever, congestion and diarrhea. Natural remedies are among some of the best treatments for teething, and you probably already have some of them in your home.
To help relieve the pain and inflammation that often accompanies teething, cut fruit, such as bananas or cantaloupe, into strips 1-by-4 inches, suggests Rubin. Freeze the fruit until it's solid and offer it to your baby to gnaw on. Freeze a clean, wet washcloth or bagels. If you use plastic teething rings, wash them frequently to remove bacteria. To prevent choking, use large pieces of fruit or bagels only and stay with your baby at all times when you have given him these to chew.
Restlessness and Irritability
One of the toughest things about teething is that babies often have trouble sleeping and can be extremely irritable. Neither one of you gets a break from teething misery. To help calm an agitated baby, run a warm bath and add three or four drops of lavender oil or other aromatics. Rub a few drops of a floral essence rescue remedy tincture directly on the gums or offer valerian tincture at bedtime to help your baby sleep, says Dr. Aviva Jill Romm in her book "Naturally Healthy Babies and Children." Always talk with your pediatrician before giving an herbal remedy and follow package directions carefully. Combine chamomile tea with a bit of diluted fruit juice for a tasty, relaxing drink. Don't underestimate your own power to calm your baby. Rocking baby or walking her in a sling may be enough to calm her. Warm some almond oil in your hands and rub it over baby for a relaxing massage.
Diarrhea and Fever
Mild diarrhea and fever can accompany teething. To treat mild diarrhea, continue to breastfeed on demand. If your baby is on solid food, offer mild, easy-to-digest foods, such as bananas, applesauce, rice, rice cereal, mashed potatoes, crackers or toast. Avoid dairy products or meat. To combat fever, dress your baby in loose, light clothing. Bathe her in warm water to reduce aches and help bring the fever down. Severe diarrhea or fever could indicate an illness in addition to teething. Check with your doctor if your baby has more than four or five loose stools in one day or if the fever rises above 101.5 degrees, counsels Rubin.
Sometimes, the only thing that seems to comfort a baby is simple distraction. Walk to the park if the weather's nice or go for a car ride. Getting out lifts both your spirits. Read your baby his favorite book, sing songs or pull out some novel toys. Give yourself a break too. Let a partner or friend take over for a while so you can recharge your battery. Teething can seem interminable when you're in the midst of it, but it won't last forever.