Those first few baby teeth look awfully cute, but as they're working their way through your child's gums, they can cause a good bit of discomfort. Naturally, you'll want to make your baby as comfortable as possible.
The following are seven tips that will help you safely soothe your child through the teething process:
Cold items can help
Give your baby something cold – like a pacifier, teething ring, spoon or clean wet washcloth that's been placed in the fridge – to help relieve the pain, WebMD experts suggest. Some parents swear by frozen fruit placed in a mesh feeding bag, but experts caution against putting a teething ring in the freezer because it can get so hard that it could hurt your baby's gums.
Provide extra comfort
Your baby feels discomfort as those first teeth are coming in, so offer some extra love and care. Extra cuddle time or a new toy can serve as a distraction from the pain. And since her sleep may be disrupted, try to stick to her nap schedule as much as possible so she doesn't feel tired and even worse.
Don't create a hazard
Some popular ways to help teething babies can actually be dangerous, so you'll need to know what to avoid. Hard foods like zwieback crackers, frozen bagels, carrots or frozen bananas can give your teething baby something to chew on, but they can be dangerous if they break off into small chunks, according to Parenting.com.
You also shouldn't use teething rings that are filled with liquid, since they can leak. And before you use any over-the-counter teething products, make sure they don't contain benzocaine, which can be dangerous, according to a recent FDA announcement. Teething necklaces have become popular recently, but experts say they pose a strangulation and choking hazard. If you feel strongly about using one, put it on your baby's wrist or ankle rather than around her neck, and always keep a close eye on her while she's wearing it.
Deal with the drool
Since babies often drool a lot when they're teething, the Mayo Clinic recommends keeping a clean cloth nearby so you can frequently clean your baby's skin. A water-based moisturizer can also help minimize skin irritation.
Massaging your baby's gums with a wet washcloth, gauze or your clean fingers can provide such much-needed relief from pain, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Wiping off the gums and emerging teeth has the added benefit of reducing bacteria and the chance of inflammation.
Use medication if needed
If other methods don't provide enough relief, BabyCenter suggests asking your doctor about over-the-counter painkillers. These can include acetaminophen or ibuprofen, depending on your baby's age, but you should be sure to check with your pediatrician about the proper dosage. Don't use aspirin, which shouldn't even be crushed up and rubbed on a baby's gums. In children under 19, it can cause Reye's syndrome, a disease that can be fatal.
Know when to see the doctor
As your baby's teeth start to erupt, he'll be experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. It's normal for him to feel fussy or irritable, have trouble sleeping and experience a loss of appetite. But, per a report by American Dental Association, if your baby has a fever, a rash or diarrhea, you should make a doctor's appointment.