Mom-Tested Teething Advice

Ease Teething Pain

Babies' reactions to teething and tolerance for pain can run the gamut. Dr. Jana was lucky: Her kids' teeth never really bothered them. But plenty of parents called her in distress because their kids were in agony. Below are some tips for tackling the pain. (Note: Certain items may pose a choking hazard for very young babies, so use your best judgment.)

  • Give massage a whirl. Gently rubbing your child's gums with a clean finger or a wet gauze pad can be soothing. It feels good and helps break down the gum tissues. "If you start from day one massaging their gums, it makes teething that much easier for the child," says Dr. Hanna.
  • Try something cold. Cold decreases pain and inflammation, so a chilled teething ring (especially one with bumps or ridges) is often tops on parents' lists. Check it daily to make sure baby hasn't broken through it. Teething rings only stay cool for about 20 minutes, so keep a few backups in the fridge. Your baby can also find comfort from her pacifier, and many babies just like to chew, whether it's on a board book, a toy, or a crinkle blanket. Colleen Moriarty, of Haddam, Connecticut, froze a twisted washcloth for her children. "They loved it!" she says.
  • Gnaw on this. Dr. Hanna recommends freezing a skinned banana for up to one hour, cutting it in quarters, and holding it while your child chews on it. Dubray put ice water in her twins' sippy cups, and they sucked on the cup's edge.
  • Try infant Tylenol. Emily Haskell, of New York City, says Tylenol was a godsend with her now-4-1/2-year-old son, Charlie. "This is very safe when used properly," says Dr. Hanna. But it's important to pay close attention to the labels because infant Tylenol is very concentrated -- more so than the child variety -- and too much can be bad for a baby's liver. Base dosage on baby's weight, and do not administer it more often than every four to six hours. If you need to use Tylenol that frequently for more than two days, consult your pediatrician, advises Dr. Jana.
  • Distract baby. For many, the pain of teething is worse at night when babies have no distractions. Dubray finds that rocking helps soothe her girls.

Babies do need extra TLC when they're teething. When Kate Clow's daughter Nora screams out in pain, "I pick her up and give her hugs and kisses," says the Summit, New Jersey, mother of her 18-month-old. In this as in many cases, Mom proves to be the best medicine.

Tricia O'Brien is the features editor of American Baby magazine.

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Originally published in the August 2006 issue of American Baby magazine.

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