Now here’s something to get your teeth into – My Heartbeat Bear’s teething tricks to ease your baby’s discomfort as those first white pearls start to emerge. There are lots of old wives tales out there – some are worth a try but others perhaps best avoided, despite advice from different generations as each seem to have their very own ideas on the best ways to soothe and ease the process.
In the 1700’s lancing, often less than sterile, which involved literally slicing open the gum, could be fatal. It was only at the turn of the 20th century that medical opinion turned against this procedure. Folk remedies from ancient Greece and more recent American folklore recommended rubbing the brains of a hare or a minnow on the gum ! Others included amulets worn around a baby’s neck with coral sticks, semi-precious stones and wolf’s teeth particularly popular as magical charms. Some had dual use and were designed as a chew stick but primarily they were targeting the spirits not the body !
In the 1800’s teething became big business with solutions and syrups including Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup which was essentially a cocktail of morphine and alcohol !
Fortunately times have moved on and there is plenty of practical advice out there to ease the pain for baby and you !
Drooling, crankiness and tears can make teething quite an ordeal for some but every baby is different and you may need to try a few ideas until you find what works for your baby.
Although timing does vary hugely, babies often begin teething by 6 months with the two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors) the first to appear followed by the two top teeth (upper central incisors). Classic symptoms include chewing on objects, drooling, irritability, sore gums or slight temperature increase (not fever). Symptoms develop about four days before the tooth appears and last for about four days afterwards. If your teething baby seems uncomfortable, try some simple tips:
Rub your baby's gums: Use a clean finger or wet cloth to rub your baby's gums as the pressure can ease your baby's discomfort.
Teething rings: Some teething rings can be cooled in the fridge which may help to soothe the gums but never put a ring in the freezer as it could damage them.
But never tie a teething ring around a baby’s neck as it could become a choking hazard.
Chew foods: If your baby is 6 months or older you could try giving them healthy foods to chew on, such as raw fruit and vegetables or you could try a crust of bread or breadstick but always watch when your baby is eating in case they choke. Avoid introducing foods which contain a lot of sugar including rusks - almost all brands do - and this can cause tooth decay even if baby ony has a few teeth
Teething gels: Gels are available especially for children but they contain a mild anaesthetic and are only available at pharmacies so always ask for advice and try other options for teething first.
Once the teeth start to emerge, care for them by running a soft cloth over the gums to prevent any food and bacterial build up, then start to introduce a soft bristle tooth brush twice a day.
All babies are different so in terms of teething timescale, it is as normal for a baby to show his first tooth as early as four months or as late as 15 months and a child will usually be two and a half or three years old before they have their full set of first milk teeth. Toddlers’ first molars typically come in from 12-19 months and the canine teeth after that while the very back teeth or second molars emerge between 20 to 33 months.
Those beautiful little pearly whites start to fall out from 6 years on with girls interestingly losing their teeth earlier than boys – and that begins an expensive process as the tooth fairy will be pretty busy from now on and with high inflation, it might be wroth starting to save now !