easing teething

Easing teething

Help your baby get through the teething process with the following easing teething tips.

Teething is a major milestone for your baby and is a normal part of development. The milk teeth actually begin to develop when the baby is growing in the womb, but the teeth only start to grow throughout the gums when the baby is six to nine months old (although it can be before or after these ages).

The teeth grow throughout the gums in stages. Usually, the lower front teeth come through first, followed by the top middle teeth. Other teeth follow over the following months. A child is usually aged around two and half or three years when they have their full set of first teeth. Some babies become distressed with the pain of swollen and tender gums, while others seem to have no uncomfortable symptoms at all.

How to ease the pain

The good news is that teething is a temporary phase in a baby’s development and there are a whole host of ways that you can provide comfort and relief.

Cool and clean facecloth

Rinse a clean facecloth in cool water and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. The very cold, and slightly crunchy texture of the facecloth provides relief – and some distraction – for little teethers. Make sure to wash it after use.

Teething gels

Over-the-counter teething gels offer some relief for irritated gums for babies over two months. With active ingredients that numb the area where the gel is applied, teething gels can be an effective solution for very upset teething babies.

Paracetemol or ibruprofen

If you feel that your baby’s teething pain is extreme, you may want to consider pain relief medication. Talk to your pharmacist before you go down this road because she may have some other suggestions you haven’t tried yet.

Clean teeth with gauze

Teething gums can be very tender gums and attempting to clean your baby’s teeth when there are new teeth erupting in his mouth can make him very distressed. Instead of using a toothbrush, which may prod into painful spots, try wiping the teeth with a piece of soft gauze instead. That way, his teeth can stay white – and you can avoid his tender gums.

Clean fingers

Biting down on the clean fingers of mum or dad can provide enough pressure to swollen gums to bring some relief to teething babies.

A comforting hug

Some soothing hugs and kisses – along with some playing – may be all it takes to get your baby through the pain of teething.

As soon as teeth come through, they should be kept clean as plaque will build up on them. Teeth should be cleaned twice a day. Some parents wipe the teeth with a clean flannel or muslin. There are also special finger brushes, which are fun and easy to use, or a very soft baby toothbrush. Children often enjoy chewing the toothbrush as it can relieve those tender teething gums. There is no need to use toothpaste before two years of age unless advised by your dentist, but a small smear just to get used to the taste of mint is fine.

Dr Abigail Moore – paediatric dentist – The Burlington Dental Clinic and The Hermitage Medical Clinic.

More like this:

Is it an ear infection or teething?
Soothing your baby’s pain
Looking after your baby’s teeth

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.