How can I soothe a teething baby?

Q: I think my baby's teething. What can I use to comfort her?

A: Teething or not, most babies will mouth, suck, and bite on just about anything -- it's their way of exploring their surroundings. But when your baby's gums are swollen or sensitive, she'll chew on her own hands or your fingers whenever she gets the chance. Moreover, firm yet gentle rubbing (for as much as a minute at a time) may make her wriggle with pleasure. However, if you'd prefer not to be a human chew-toy, look for the smallest, lightest-weight plastic teething ring you can find (this way, it won't hurt if she accidentally knocks herself in the face with it). Another good bet is a gel-filled ring you can chill in the refrigerator (never the freezer). Cool and flexible, it's the perfect teething texture. In a pinch, you can always use a cool, slightly damp wash cloth for your baby to hold and chew.

Copyright 2002 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2009.