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Close up of a baby chewing on a teething ring

Safe and Effective Teething Tips

By: Dr. Imani R. Eichelberger, Hampton Roads Pediatrics

Your baby’s first tooth is an exciting milestone. But it can also be a frustrating experience for parents and babies when teething begins.

The first tooth usually appears around the age of 6 months. Infants and toddlers may teethe off and on until the age of 3, when they typically have all their baby teeth.

Drooling, fussiness, poor sleep, and a reluctance to eat are all signs that a tooth is about to appear. Fortunately, there are many things parents and caregivers can do to ease the discomfort of teething.

Try these tips to help your child through this phase:

Massage your baby’s gums.

Gently apply pressure to your baby’s gums using clean fingers or a moistened gauze pad. Dipping your finger in chilled water first may provide some added relief.

Provide something cold, and safe, for them to chew on.

Gnawing on something slightly frozen will help soothe sore gums. What you should offer depends on the child’s age. For infants, give them a wet washcloth that’s been chilling in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes. Teething rings also work well but make sure they are not frozen solid. Look for silicone or latex teething toys to avoid the phthalates present in so many plastic items.

Frozen foods satisfy hunger, too.

If your baby eats solids, you can try frozen fruits such as banana or berries. Some children love to chew on frozen bagels.

Ask your child’s pediatrician before offering over-the-counter pain relievers.

If your child is still uncomfortable, ask your pediatrician whether a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, is appropriate. It’s normal for teething to slightly elevate a child’s temperature; however, teething does not cause a fever. If your child has a fever of 100.4 F, it means they are fighting an illness or infection and may need medical treatment.

Steer clear of numbing gels, teething tablets, and amber necklaces.

While some of these strategies are popular with parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against the use of these remedies due to safety concerns.

  • Amber necklaces, like all jewelry, pose a choking and strangulation hazard.
  • Numbing gels that contain benzocaine should not be used on infants. Benzocaine products have been associated with a dangerous condition called methemoglobinemia, which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the blood, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Homeopathic teething tablets are not evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety and efficacy.

When you have questions or concerns about your child and teething symptoms, it’s always a good idea to check with your CHKD pediatrician for advice.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.