Even seasoned moms will jiggle their fussy 4 month old and say to their friends with uncertainty, “She might be teething…?” In truth, the only way to know for certain if your child is teething is to see something peeking through their gums, but there are some other things I’ve found over the years to be indicators (when in doubt, speak to your pediatrician about these symptoms):
- Tummy troubles: Both my kids experienced diarrhea when cutting teeth. For large molars, it went so far as to result in rashes or supplementation with a rehydration solution.
- Drooling: This alone is definitely not an indication of teething because most babies drool at least a little. If you notice a marked increase in their drooling, then this probably means a tooth is on its way.
- Ear tugging: Sometimes the pain of teething shoots up to the ear canal so babies will tug at their ears to alleviate it. If you’ve ruled out an ear infection, teething is likely to blame for ear tugging.
- Finger chewing: As with drooling, this is not a solid indicator, but if you’re noticing more interest in chewing on fingers or other items, it could be to satisfy the desire for counter pressure.
- Low fever: If your baby’s temperature is higher than usual, it can be an indication of teething.
- Mood swings: This is usually the biggest indicator that something isn’t right. If your generally content baby is suddenly fussy and unpredictable (and again, you’ve ruled out illness), they’re probably experiencing discomfort associated with teething.
Now that you’re fairly certain your baby is teething, here’s how you can make them more comfortable:
- Counter pressure: You can now find fashionable teething jewelry online that your baby will like to gnaw on. My kids also loved the rubber spoons meant for feeding. If I was holding them, I would allow them to chew on rubber spoons for comfort. I would also get the finger-cover gum brushes and let them chew on my finger. This only works on the first tooth otherwise you’ll find yourself with a sore finger. Avoid amber teething necklaces though, as they aren’t safe.
- Acetaminophen: Speak to your pediatrician about administering the appropriate dosage of Tylenol. I would give it to my kids about 20 minutes before I put them to bed at night. It helps ease the pain so everyone can get a good night’s rest.
- Homeopathic approach: There are teething tablets and other items you can find in the baby aisle which may or may not help. Speak to your pediatrician before giving these a try as some have said they can be harmful. I have tried a few and didn’t notice any improvement.
- Something cold: I wet and froze clean washcloths and gave them to my babies to suck and chew. There are also mesh teething toys where you can add frozen breast milk or formula, like a baby popsicle.
Always be sure to supervise your baby directly when they’re chewing on anything. If you are concerned about their symptoms, call your pediatrician or take them for a visit. Go with your instincts, try some of these tips, and I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you and your little one.