Babies usually show signs of their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age, although some early developers may begin to show it at 3 months. This milestone is considered one of the most exhausting and frustrating for parents. When a baby’s teeth start to come out, he tends to be very fussy, which means he might be crying more often than usual and may even get a fever. Some common signs parents can look out for are: irritability, decreased appetite, increased drooling, and inflamed gums.
Far too often, parents use fast-acting numbing medications to soothe their baby’s pain and, although this might provide a quick fix, by doing so they might be using harmful drugs that can, in the worst case escenarios, even be fatal. Health officials, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recently issued a warning about the dangers of using oral anesthetics to help babies relieve their teething pain. In fact, the FDA notified caregivers to discontinue the use of viscous lidocaine and benzocaine products for children under 2, an ingredient that is commonly found in popular products such as: Anbesol, Baby Orajel, Hurricaine, Viscous Lidocaine, and Orabase. Although most of these items are over the counter products and claim to provide instant pain relief, they can put your baby’s life at risk.
When babies become very cranky, sometimes well-meaning parents try to soothe their pain by soaking their baby’s pacifier into a benzocaine formula or rub gel-like oral anesthetics on their gums. This is extremely dangerous, since the amount of medicine used is not being measured. In some cases, the use of benzocaine has been associated to a rare, but fatal, condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced.
Not only are OTC products dangerous, but even certain prescription medicines too. According to the FDA, one such example is viscous lidocaine (lidocaine 2%), which may harm rather than help. When parents use this prescribed gel-like anesthetic to rub on their babies’ gums, they can accidentally swallows too much of it, or, if the amount used is greater than it should, babies can get seizures, brain injury, and heart problems.
Given this information, it is extremely important for parents to be careful with what they are using to relieve their baby’s pain. If you can’t stand seeing your baby crying and don’t know what to do to soothe his teething pain, here are 7 safe tips you can try:
- Gum massage: If a baby’s gums are swollen or tender, parents should apply finger pressure and massage them to ease the pain. Remember to wash your hands first!
- Cold cloth: Dip a clean washcloth in water or chamomile tea and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes. When the cloth is chilled, let your baby chew it.
- Chilled spoon: Place a spoon in the fridge (not in the freezer, because then it might stick on your baby’s gums) and just apply the rounded part of the spoon to your baby’s gums. This remedy should be used before the teeth actually pop, to avoid chipping a tooth.
- Plush teething toy: Have a soft plush toy that is made out of safe materials.
- Chilled teether: Place a solid or liquid-filled teether in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes –afterwards, give it to your baby. This will provide a great soothing sensation! Make sure you select one that is easy to grab and is BPA and PVC free.
- Vibrating teether: This item helps in two ways: it soothes the pain and stimulates the gums. Choose one that is multi-textured and water-filled (that way you can put it in the fridge before giving it to your baby).
- Distraction: Sometimes a change in setting is all it takes to distract a baby from teething pain. You can try giving your baby a warm bath to help him relax!
Hope these tips help you out during your baby’s teething stage! Please feel free to share below any other items or actions you might have used that worked with your baby.
Until next time!