Teething is a complicated force: you often can’t see it coming, your little one can’t articulate what’s going on, and your baby’s discomfort and mood swings can give you whiplash. But despite the challenges, we’ve felt empowered by a few tips we’ve collected from doolahs, moms, and other pros:
Don’t sweat precision
The age range for when teething begins is so wide that it’s largely unhelpful. “Pre-teething” can start as early as two months, and some kiddos don’t get first teeth until later than 9 months. You won’t always be able to tell if your baby is actually teething versus just having a rough morning, and that’s ok. The best advice we got was that “a guess is good enough.” Many of the strategies below can be helpful and even fun, even if your little one isn’t actually teething. Don’t worry too much about precision; one day, a tooth will pop through and you’ll have the “I knew it!” moment you’ve been waiting for.
Spotty sleep and mood swings
A teething baby is often an unhappy one, which can feel demoralizing for a parent putting in so much effort (and often not getting a full night’s sleep). Here were a few of the top tips we learned regarding sleep and mood:
- Know that teething will spike and wane at various times throughout the day. Your little one may be fine all day but uncomfortable at night, or vice versa. You’re not going crazy if it feels like your kiddo is only teething when the sun goes down.
- Teething isn’t torture. It’s typically a low-level, frustrating discomfort for baby, and because of that, a good distraction can go a long way. Our favorite option was simply getting outside and giving our son a change of scenery.
- There are many wonderful sleep experts online and we won’t pretent to be one of them. That said, we found that the best strategy to help a baby whose sleep is disrupted by itchy or painful gums was to teach the baby to fall back to sleep independently. There may be some wake-ups throughout the night, but an ability to self-sooth saves you from needing to intervene.
During the day, cool, crunchy treats can be soothing on sore gums. For little ones who haven’t yet started solids, one doolah suggested soaking a washcloth in water, breast milk, or forumla and freezing it. That can make an effective and safe sucker. For older kids, we love homemade popsicles. We blend greek yogurt with fruit and freeze it in molds we picked up from the grocery store. In a pinch, a paper cup wit a chopstick can also work.
Teething often comes with lots of drool, which can lead to soggy, dank clothes that stretch and warp throughout the day. We love bandana bibs because they’re cute, unobtrusive, and effective. First Peak’s bib had the added benefit of using a bacteria-resistant, odor-fighting fabric that dries quickly, meaning your kiddo can wear the bib longer and you can wash it less.
Teething can feel never-ending, but with a few coping strategies in hand, you’ll power through. Treat yourself with grace and patience during these tough periods — once those chompers are in, your little baby will be smiling bright!