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How to Deliver Teething Relief ASAP
to Your Hurting Baby

teething relief
Your infant is screaming for teething relief.

If he could talk, you know he'd be wailing "Do something Mommy!". And you sit there... stressed...overwhelmed...exhausted.

Convinced you're failing your first "real" parenting test.

Teething is very rarely convenient. Usually, it will hit right at bedtime, or, worst of all, in the middle of the night.

Or perhaps at Grumpy Aunt Grace's house, and she's looking at you with an expression of "Fix him already!" and you're scrambling to rock, walk, feed, anything to get him to calm down.

He doesn't cooperate. He's hurting and you're supposed to fix it.

Yikes! Talk about pressure! (Does it show that I'm speaking from experience here?) smiley

Parenting is, in my opinion, easiest when you're at least somewhat prepared. If you have at least some vague idea of how to handle a temper tantrum, you won't respond in anger and frustration when you have to deal with one.

If you've seen a diaper changed, you're less overwhelmed when you're facing your first massive mound of poop.

Teething is the same way. Reading ahead (or, at least during) will lower your blood pressure and help you know what to do when it happens. Because, there's a strong chance that your baby will struggle with teething.

(There's also a chance that he will breeze right through. But do you really want to take that gamble with each tooth?)

This article will provide some information to tuck away in your brain (and suggestions to tuck into the diaper bag) and pull out when Teething Day finally arrives, and for each day it comes around again. After all, he does have 20 teeth to go!

Side Note: Obviously, before you start treating her, it may be a good idea to make sure she's teething in the first place. Read through my article on Reading the Signs of Teething for an easy teething checklist.

Teething Relief:
Stocking Your Arsenal

As you anticipate your child's adventure in teething, it's a good idea to stock up on some teething supplies ahead of time. (Trust me, 2:00 in the morning is not the time to discover she's teething!)

You don't have to purchase all these items, just choose the ones that seem to fit your family and lifestyle the most. In some cases, it may be helpful to purchase two, and keep one in the diaper bag at all times for emergencies.

If you prefer to help your baby teethe naturally, don't miss the list of "All-Natural Teething Aids" for stocking suggestions.

teething relief 2
  • Plenty of washable bibs.

      Start with small cheapo-deapo bibs to catch drool. If your little guy ends up drooling like a faucet, you may have to upgrade to bibs made from a heavier-material or even plastic. The goal is to keep his neck as dry as possible to prevent bacteria from settling down and creating a rash.
  • Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly).

      Rubbing a little Vaseline on his chin and neck before nap or bedtime (when baby isn't wearing a bib) will further protect his skin from bacteria-caused rashes.
  • Baby-safe teethers.

      I realize you can pretty much find teethers anywhere. However, there really is such thing as "a waste of money". I've researched which teethers parents like the most, where you can find them (I don't sell them here), and how to use them for maximum effectiveness. You can see my teether research here.
  • Infant medicines and teething medications.

      Some are better than others, and some are down-right dangerous. See my discussion at the bottom of this article for what works best.
Now that you have an "emergency stash" of items that will come in useful when the expected happens unexpectedly, let's turn our attention to the actual tips and techniques that will give your baby teething relief, and you some extra sleep.

Teething Relief:
Starting Small

If you suspect teething is the culprit (these teething signs can help you decide), starting with the simplest approaches to teething relief is often best.

Keep in mind that your baby is an individual and will decide on his own which remedies he likes and which he doesn't. What worked on your friend's baby may not work for yours. I recommend trying the simple solutions first, moving towards medication slowly. You may be able to skip medication all together, or limit it to strictly night-time use.

  • Massage the sore gums with your finger. If she doesn't already have teeth, allowing her to gnaw on your finger for a while will greatly serve her. Gnawing on things helps to equalize the pressure she feels forcing the tooth up. By countering that pressure with chewing down, she provides momentary relief.
  • Distract her with extra books, one-on-one playtime, a walk to the park, or even a drive in the car.
  • Provide a damp (not wet!) washcloth for her to gnaw on. Sucking the water out of the rag, as well as the coolness of the water, and the pressure from chewing, will provide distraction and relief.
  • If your baby is old enough to eat solids, try offering chilled applesauce or a cold carrot stick to gnaw on.
      (Note: Carrot sticks are fine for babies who are teething for the first time and won't accidentally bite off a piece. Chunks of raw carrots are choking hazards. However, my girls loved the interesting taste and texture of gnawing on a carrot stick before their first teeth came in.)

  • Purchase teething biscuits, or make your own teething biscuits at home.
There are many other small things you can try for teething relief at home. You can view these all-natural teething remedies here.

Teething Relief:
Sleeping Issues

Like I mentioned above, it is not uncommon for babies to be fine during the day, only to turn into a teething hellion the moment the light goes out.

During the day, they are distracted with toys, pictures, faces, people...all new things that can grab their attention. When it's time to sleep they are suddenly made aware of this very uncomfortable feeling they hadn't previously noticed.

You could try on of the simple steps above, but supervision would be necessary, and most likely "distraction" will get you only a tired, temporarily distracted baby. Once you stop "distracting" and lay her down to sleep again the whole cycle will start again. You're almost guaranteeing one tired mama (not to mention an even more irritable baby) tomorrow.

So what do you do? It's time for the big guns.

Yes, it's time to crack open the medicine cabinet and reach for some approved medicines (discussed below), or some Hylands Teething Tablets for some all natural teething relief.

Teething Relief:

Before I get into teething relief medications, let me offer the following disclaimer: No matter what time it is, I recommend speaking to a physician before giving your baby medication. That little body will be absorbing that medication, and it can be easy to overdose if you're not paying attention.

A simple phone call to your doctor's office, or to the doctor on call, will put your dosing fears at ease and reinforce your decision to provide medication in the first place.

Your pediatrician is a pediatrician because she cares about children. Don't hesitate to call, no matter the hour. (And if he/she makes you feel like an inconvenience, you need to find a new pediatrician, and he should probably find a new profession.)

There are basically two types of medication you can give your baby for teething relief: a topical pain reliever, and a general pain reliever. We'll look at each separately.


Topical Teething Relief Medications

These medications are meant to be applied directly onto the gums. The active ingredients numb the gums, providing teething relief. The most popular brand is Baby Oraljel. However, many companies offer their own version. Hylands Teething Gel is a homeopathic topical medicine made from all-natural ingredients.

teething relief 3
{Photo by Bart_}
The effectiveness of topical teething medication is debatable. On one hand, it works immediately, numbing the gums within seconds (as opposed to 30 minutes with standard medications).

On the other hand, it washes away easily and the benefits can be fleeting. The more your baby drools, the faster the effects will wear off.

You could choose to apply a topical medicine while you're waiting for the general medicine to kick in. However, be wary of the amount you are using. Too much topical teething relief gel can numb the back of your baby's throat (as he swallows it).

This weakens his gag reflex, making it easier for him to potentially choke on his own saliva. Follow the directions carefully, and do not give more than suggested.

For babies with an distinguished palette of likes and dislikes, Oraljel comes in a variety of flavors like cherry, berry, and grape. They also have teething swabs to make applying the gel even easier.

In rare instances, the gels can cause an allergic reaction. Keep a close eye on your infant the first few times you use it, to be sure no reaction is forthcoming.


General Teething Relief Medications

Medicine Recalls

It's rare, but it does happen occasionally.

Check to see the latest infant medicine recall from the FDA.

Medications like Infant Tylenol or Infant Ibuprofen are whole-body medications. This means they don't target a specific part of the body, they flood throughout the body. For this reason, it's very important to pay attention to dosages. That's a little body, and it doesn't take much to fill it up!

The most popular medications for babies are Acetominophen (Infant Tylenol) and Infant Ibuprofen. Medication should be given according to weight, not age. If you find yourself unsure of how much your baby weighs, simply weigh yourself alone, weigh yourself with baby, and subtract the two to get your infant's current weight.

Most doctors do not recommend giving your infant Baby Aspirin (also called Baby Motrin). The use of aspirin in children has been linked to a condition called Reye's Syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition. However, it is rare. If nothing seems to be working, call your doctor to discuss the possible risks of using Baby Motrin.

If you're baby is still inconsolable after medication and rocking, it is possible to stagger dosages of Ibuprofen and Tylenol for maximum effectiveness. Tylenol has a 4 hour limit, Ibuprofen has a 6 hour limit. Call your doctor for specific instructions on how this is done.

Personally, I found this necessary only when my middle child was teething molars. The larger surface area of the molars made them ten-times as painful for her, and sleeping was a major challenge. By staggering the doses, I was able to help her sleep for a longer period of time.

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Once you have a few good teething relief suggestions floating around in your brain (and a few tools tucked into the diaper bag) you can take each teething episode in stride.

Even the ones at Grumpy Aunt Grace's house.

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