Teething is stressful! The crying, sleepless nights, biting, grinding teeth…I really hate the sound of teeth grinding together. It can be a hard time for both parent and baby. This is a complete guide to the symptoms, stages and different ways to soothe your teething baby including hacks I have used and reflux tips.
I have heard some babies teeth just come through without them knowing a thing about it. They just magically appear overnight while the baby sleeps soundly. That is definitely not my experience of teething. My first child would be really irritable and have long spells of crying. His teeth came in slowly one at a time, so I had a lot of time to test out a variety of teethers and teething hacks. My second child has had a few teeth come in at the same time, so it seems a lot quicker. However she really likes to bite and chew, so I am reusing a lot of the hacks for a second time.
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What are the symptoms of teething?
The teething symptoms are different for every baby, this is a guide to some of the common ones I have experienced with a reflux baby and a non-reflux baby:
- Swollen gums that look like they are bulging out
- See a tooth beneath the gum
- Lots of dribbling
- Irritable – seem like they are crying for no reason
- Bite, chew, grind their gums/teeth together
- Have red cheeks
- Rub their face or pull their ear
- Find it hard to sleep
- Wake up more frequently
- Refuse to eat
Medical professionals like the NHS say there is no evidence to show that diarrhea and nappy rash are a symptom of teething. I have found that both of my children have had loose stools and nappy rash while they have a tooth coming through. This could be because they are always chewing something or because they are very dribbly.
Check out this practical guide for dealing with sleep, weaning, leaving the house and helping your baby to improve their symptoms.
Does teething make reflux worse?
There is a lot of different views on this topic online and I couldn’t find a teething guide for reflux. I want to share my experience of having a teething baby with severe reflux, so you can see any similarities with your baby.
I have found that when my daughter is teething her reflux is always much worse. The excess saliva seems to upset her tummy and all her reflux symptoms come back or worsen. Normally her reflux symptoms are under control, but when she is cutting a new tooth she vomits more frequently, has explosive nappies, gags and chokes and refuses her feeds.
I have noticed that any change from her normal routine can trigger her reflux. When she is unwell, has vaccinations, is teething or trying some new foods. I have found the best thing to do is to keep to her normal routine as much as possible. If she is in a lot of pain I will offer her infant paracetamol. I avoid ibuprofen as this can upset her stomach and make her reflux worse. If she doesn’t want to eat I use the hacks below to make sure she has some nutrition. I remind myself that this is a phase that will pass and just try to offer her as much comfort as I can.
What are the stages of teething?
Most babies start teething around 6 months, but it is also normal to start earlier or not to start until they are 12 months. This is a general guide to when they appear, but all babies are different and they can come at different times or in a different order.
Bottom front teeth: 5-7 months
Top front teeth: 6-8 months
Top lateral incisors either side of front teeth: 9-11months
Bottom lateral incisors either side of front teeth: 10-12 months
First set of back teeth: 12-16 months
Canine teeth near the back: 16-20 months
Second set of back teeth: 20-30 months
How can I get my teething baby to sleep, eat and stop crying?
It can be really overwhelming when your baby is teething. They can find it hard to settle to sleep or have more frequent wakening. Sometimes they refuse to take their feeds, try new foods or even eat their favourite meal. They can cry and cry and cry. This collection of hacks and resources have been used on my two children and they responded to different things, so try as many as you need until you find one that works for your baby.
21 Teething Hacks and Products
- Offer cold or frozen food – food from the fridge or freezer soothes their sore gums and encourages them to eat. Try cold yoghurt
- Freeze breastmilk – this gives them the nutrition from your milk while soothing their sore gums. Try making breast milk lollies using the Nuby fruitsicle frozen pop tray.
- Use an infant feeder – try putting cold fruit in this for them to suck on. My daughter loves apple in hers and will suck on it while I am cooking. I don’t use the mesh feeders as I find them hard to clean. We use the Naturebond silicone feeder as I can put it in the sterilizer and it has different size teats, so it has grown with her and lasted longer.
- Make homemade teething biscuits – I have to make my own dairy-free and soy-free teething biscuits, but this gives them something hard to bite down on which can offer them some relief.
- Offer soft foods or purees – if your baby doesn’t like to bite try them with mushy foods like mashed potato or vegetables or purees. I used the Philips Avent Combined Baby Food Steamer and Blender to make my own purees. This was really useful as I could change the texture to suit my baby. It was also great as I only had one thing to wash as it steams and blends in the same machine. You can also make your own pouches to use when you go out using the Infantino squeeze station. Babies also like to use these pouches to feed themselves.
- Give baby infant paracetamol or ibuprofen at bedtime to give them some relief from the pain. This can give them and you a few hours sleep.
- Offer a breastfeed if you can as this can offer them some comfort. An alternative to this is to offer them a dummy/pacifier as the sucking can soothe them.
- Keep them to their usual bedtime or nap time routine as much as possible as this will show them that it is time to sleep.
- Try using a teething gel to soothe their gums. Bonjela worked well with my son, but my daughter has responded better to using anbesol.
- Distract them when you can. Give them their favorite toy, play a game, sing to them, play music – whatever takes their mind off their teeth.
- Wear a bib to stop their clothes from being wet with the dribble. I also use the bib to dab the dribble off the chin to stop it getting sore.
- If they suffer from nappy rash use a barrier cream at every nappy change. I use Bepanthen barrier cream as a way of preventing a rash.
- If they do get a nappy rash I use Metanium Nappy Rash Ointment. This stuff is amazing, I put it on at night and by the next morning, the rash is so much better or usually completely gone.
- Both my children have loved Sophie the giraffe. So much that I had to buy a strap for her so we could take her everywhere and not lose her.
- The banana teether is another great option because it is also cleaning their teeth.
- Wet the corners of a Muslin or clean washcloth and place it in the freezer. Take it out of the freezer and let it thaw slightly before you let baby chew on the cold corners.
- Rub their gums with a clean finger, but be careful they don’t bite!
- Let them chew on a baby spoon. My daughter loves the silicone Munchkin soft-tip spoons, which come in a set so there is always a clean one now she is into throwing things.
- Teething powders like Ashton & Parsons worked well with my son. My daughter can’t use them because they contain milk.
- I have read a lot of good reviews on amber bracelets, but have not tried one yet.
- Silicone teething necklace gives them something soft to chew on. I’ve not used one of these but we do have a silicone dummy strap that my daughter loves chewing on.
For a lot of babies (and parents) teething is a tough time. I hope some of these tips help you and your baby to eat, sleep and soothe the teething pain. I always think back to when I had my wisdom tooth out and how painful that was. This gives me more patience with my baby.