Teething is no fun—just ask your baby. During teething, baby teeth (which are quite sharp) erupt through the tender tissues of the gums. Teething can start in newborns as early as 4 months old, but usually begins around 6-7 months of age. Teething babies might be fussy, cry more, and sleep less, although some babies may just drool more than usual. Luckily, there are steps you can take to relieve your child’s discomfort.
- Massage baby’s gums. Use a clean finger or a cold, damp washcloth to gently massage your child’s gums.
- Give baby a teething ring. The pressure from biting or gnawing on the ring can relieve some of the discomfort. You can even put the teething ring in the freezer before giving it to your baby as the cold will offer a soothing, numbing sensation.
- Dry off any drool. An increase in drooling is perfectly normal, but it can cause skin irritation. Be sure to wipe away any excess saliva before it causes skin irritation.
- Try over-the-counter pain relief. If your baby is especially cranky, acetaminophen or ibuprofen might help. Just confirm with your pediatrician about dosage and be sure to stick to just acetaminophen if your baby is under 6 months old.
- Avoid benzocaine. Skip any teething medications that contain the pain reliever benzocaine, which have been associated with methemoglobinemia, a serious condition that reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. Symptoms include a pale or bluish hue to the skin, lips and nail beds, extreme fatigue, confusion, and shortness of breath. According to a recent report from the FDA, 19 reports of benzocaine-related methemoglobinemia have been reported in children since 2006. Children under 2 years old appear to be at the highest risk.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018
- The pressure from massaging baby’s gums with your clean finger or a washcloth can take away teething pain.
- Cold teething rings or washcloths can also help relieve some discomfort.
- Be sure to wipe away any excess drool so baby’s skin doesn’t get irritated.
- OTC pain relievers can help your child feel better, but avoid anything with benzocaine.