By Emma Reed – a blogger, freelance writer and self-published author from Hampshire. A Mother to 2, Emma’s blog has flourished and she covers a wide variety of topics from parenting to babies, prematurity to breastfeeding, home and garden, the highs and lows of being a Mum and honest accounts of her real-life experiences.
Teething, just that word can make a parent shudder! When my first baby started to show signs at 6 weeks of age I remember so many people telling me that he couldn’t be teething, he was far too young, that I was mistaken… Yet the truth is, they are never too young to start- did you know that a baby can actually be born with teeth?! Yes, most start from 6 months but mine had 2 teeth at 5 months. They are not all the same and neither are their symptoms.
In our case, his earliest signs were the typical dribbling and chewing but as each new tooth rumbled we began to identify a lot of other symptoms, which not everybody necessarily knows about. I have picked just a selection to try and help you to identify when it is teething and to guide you on how to cope with them and give tips on how to soothe your teething baby.
This is an obvious symptom and most babies will show pain at some point during the teething process. It is usually displayed through crying, tugging at the ears and chewing profusely and it may start long before you see a tooth due to the ‘rumbling’ going on below the gum line. The teeth move in the jaw prior to eruption and can often be seen peeking up to the gums as a white lump and then reducing back down to nothing again. We can’t see what our poor little mites are going through but we can look for these signals and react in time in order to provide some pain relief. Infant paracetamol and infant Nurofen will both help to reduce pain, bring down a fever and calm your baby. As long as you are following the dosage rates please don’t worry about giving a medicine during the teething development. I have heard parents say it was a last resort before – why should it be? If you had an ache or pain you would take some tablets so do think of easing theirs before it increases. Other remedies for pain include amber jewellery which parents report can reduce swelling and calm, teething gels which not only numb the painful gums but also provide antiseptic properties, teething granules which are homeopathic and usually contain calming chamomile, teething toys which help to soften the gums and good old distraction techniques to take their minds off it all.
This is a classic symptom in a teething baby and is caused by the inflammation of the gums. Their cheeks will clear once the tooth appears but you can provide teething granules to help calm this symptom down. Always keep a close eye on your baby’s temperature, though, and if you are concerned please follow the instructions in the next category.
Feeling that the skin is hot is not an indication of a fever. Teething may bring flushed cheeks and a warmer baby due to pain but in order to check for a fever, you need to use a thermometer. The NHS guidelines are that a fever is over 37.5° and you should seek medical advice if this increases above 39°. In the first instance, you should always remove clothing, a layer at a time to see if this cools them. Do not completely strip them down or attempt to reduce their fever with a cold flannel as this may cause their body to go into shock. Infant paracetamol and Ibuprofen will also help in reducing the fever but again, follow the label instructions and if there is no change, seek medical advice. Teething shouldn’t cause a serious issue like this.
Dribbling and Dribble Rash
Babies do naturally dribble a lot and more so from 3 months of age due to their salivary glands increasing in activity. Then once teething hits this will become far more excessive and noticeable. With all this extra fluid drooling from their mouths, they are at a higher risk of developing an uncomfortable dribble rash. You need to tackle this by ensuring you are keeping clothing dry or changing their clothes more often when it becomes too wet. It can be so tempting to keep wiping the dribble away but this can often aggravate a rash further. Your best move would be to purchase a dribble bib to keep your baby’s clothes dry and to just simply dab the dribble away with a clean, soft muslin (do not use wipes), then apply a barrier cream to help to protect the skin. Make sure you also check in the folds of skin babies have under their chin. It is easy for the dribble to linger here and get missed – a perfect breeding place for germs!
This can be clearly seen as your baby will start to pull and rub their ears much more. As the mouth, nose, throat and ears are all linked it is only natural that teething pains will manifest themselves in other areas. The pain from the jaw often shoots up the face to their ears which can cause your baby to scream out and be difficult to put down to sleep. The main remedy for this will be to keep on top of pain relief throughout the day and before bed (again follow the instructions). You can alternate infant paracetamol and infant ibuprofen when the pain increases but keep track of how much you give in those 24 hours. You may also find that they will sleep much more happily on your chest or slightly raised up as laying flat increases the pain. I found that a reflux cushion helped my baby to sleep better at night. If they are in a lot of pain and seem extremely distressed please seek medical advice in case there is an ear infection.
The excess saliva can go on and have further effects on their little bodies. One of the most common being loose stools. As the saliva works its way into the stomach it causes an acidic build-up which in turn, affects their bowels. This can often lead to nappy leaks and an increase in bowel movements. I would definitely recommend taking a change of clothes, plenty of nappies and wipes plus a wetbag to pop dirty clothing into every time you go out – you don’t wanna get caught out!
The best remedy for loose stools is teething granules as the chamomile can aid in settling their upset tummy.
The inevitable happens from all those loose bowel movements and little red, sore, rashy bottoms are often seen during the teething process. Their urine will also become more acidic from the swallowed saliva and this will also add to nappy rash issues. The best remedy for this is to allow for plenty of nappy free time (if you are brave enough!) as it will give the area time to dry out and heal. During this time, I would also recommend using warm water and cotton wool instead of wipes as these can irritate it further. A barrier cream, vaseline or olive oil will provide a waterproof layer between the wet nappy and the skin. I used to dab my son’s bottom dry with a soft cloth before applying anything to ensure the rash was completely dry. The doctor can prescribe creams if the rash becomes severe.
Lack of Sleep
Of course, the one we all have to endure is the lack of sleep and this can only be dealt with in the best way which suits your family. You may choose to co-sleep, try amber jewellery, drive around until they doze off or rock them until you burn all that baby weight off! Whatever your methods, you should always do what is best for your own baby and for your family unit. Take others’ advice but don’t feel you have to follow it, ignore any negative comments and don’t let anybody else judge you. Sleep deprivation is a killer and it’s best that you all get a bit rather than suffering through.
Some of the more unusual symptoms I saw in my baby was an increase in ear wax (probably from pulling at them), coughing due to the extra saliva, hiccups again due to the saliva being swallowed, sickness, eczema caused by stress and irritability. I cover 22 symptoms in my book ‘Your Teething Baby, from one parent to another’ so if you need any further help and advice please do pop over to Amazon to take a look (£10.99 paperback and £4.50 kindle).
Remember, it doesn’t matter if your friends baby isn’t suffering or if your mother in law did something differently in her day or if you need to try everything under the sun to find a solution, only you know what the situation is and you know your baby best. In my case, teething was the worst stage we went through. It was stressful, exhausting and worrying. All I wanted to do was help my baby and to be able to take all his discomfort and upset away.
Teething can last from birth up until the age of 3 so you need to learn what they need during this time and how to soothe them all whilst trying to maintain your normal life routines. It can be a long, slow process but I can ensure you that there is a light at the end of that tunnel.
Emma Reed is a blogger, freelance writer and self-published author from Hampshire. Her writing career began when she struggled to find information to help her first child through his teething journey. As she began to research this area, she realised how much there was to understand and learn and it led to the idea of a book to help other parents who may also be struggling.
Once her book, ‘Your Teething Baby, from one parent to another‘ went on sale on Amazon, Emma started up her parenting blog to reach out to others and to document her journey as a Mother to Jake.
Three years on and now a Mother to 2, Emma’s blog has flourished and she now covers a wide variety of topics from parenting to babies, prematurity to breastfeeding, home and garden, the highs and lows of being a Mum and honest accounts of her real-life experiences.