Teething Tips for your Irritable Infant

Some babies are fortunate enough to have an easy time with teething. Their gums hurt for a bit, they chew and slobber, the teeth pop through and that’s it. If this describes your child, then you needn’t read further (unless you want tips for the future).

This topic is of interest to me because my son has had a really rough time with teething. His first teeth erupted at around 8 months and it seems that he has been in some state of teething since then (almost 10 months). Many babies experience the “teething syndrome”, which describes a variety of symptoms related to teething. Excessive drooling, low-grade fever, irritability, waking at night, ear pain, and chewing on just about anything are the more common symptoms. Infants that are sensitive to pain may even experience nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea from the stress and may also have changes in their normal sleeping and eating patterns.

Most parents are familiar with over the counter options for teething pain relief, but there may be more choices than you think. Here are some more natural options for getting your infant or toddler through this difficult time:

1) Homeopathic Teething tablets–a homeopathic preparation formulated to address the symptoms associated with “teething syndrome”. Incidentally, these are handy to have in the medicine cabinet for use any time the child has similar symptoms, even if not caused by teething. Homeopathic medicines do not contain pharmaceutical drugs and are generally safe for infants and children. You should follow the dosing instructions on the package and always consult with your child’s doctor first if the child is on medication or if you are not sure that the symptoms are teething related.

2) Homeopathic Teething gel–similar to the tablets, this is a topical preparation that can be soothing to irritated gums. It generally does not have the same numbing effect as other over the counter teething gels, but may have a mild anesthetic effect. I usually recommend using the teething gel at bedtime or during the day if the child is extremely uncomfortable.

3) Cold washcloth–no need to buy teething toys, when a cold wet rag will do the trick. You can also try wrapping an ice cube in the washcloth and rubbing it on your baby’s gums. You should not leave an infant or child unattended with an ice cube as this could be a choking hazard.

4) Chamomile tea–brew some chamomile tea and put it in the refrigerator before offering it to your infant. This herbal tea is safe for infants and can help reduce the pain and irritability caused by teething. While you’re at it, brew a cup for yourself to have before bed (it will help you sleep a little better even if your infant wakes you up a few times).

5) Marshmallow root–if you can get ahold of the actually root, this makes a great natural teether (of course, you will want to be sure it is clean). It should be dehydrated first and is safer than teething biscuits, since it is less likely to break apart. It also helps sooth the gums and reduce inflammation. For infants that have “peek-a-boo” teeth (teeth that appear to cut through and disappear depending on how swollen the gums are), the marshmallow root can decrease swelling enough for the teeth to cut through completely (providing a great deal of relief to the infant).

While the suggestions above may provide some relief, there is always a time and a place for pharmaceutical pain relief options. You should talk to your child’s doctor about their recommendations for over the counter pain relievers and dosages for infants. Keep in mind that dosing for infants is usually weight dependent, so even if an age-based dosage is given on the package, it may not be the appropriate dose for your child (which is why you should consult a doctor).

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6 Responses to “Teething Tips for your Irritable Infant”

  • Great point! There are other homeopathic options avaialable, although Hyland’s is one of the most widely known brands. Topical clove oil (organic, of course) is also effective as an anesthetic. It’s also important for parents to keep in mind that treating a child’s discomfort with what is available and safe (even if not the ideal option) may be better for everyone than a sleepless night.

  • Summer:

    I could be remembering wrong, but I think that at least the Hyland’s brand of homeopathic teething gel has methylparaben in it – something not so good to use topically, let alone in an infant oral applicaiton.

  • Krystal–it may be difficult to find the whole dried marshmallow root. If the health food stores in your area don’t carry whole herbs, you may want to try finding an acupuncturist or chinese medicine practitioner that can order whole herbs. There are also sources on the internet, but most I’ve come across sell the marshmallow root already chopped and sifted or powdered. Ideally, you want the whole peeled root (organic) that the infant can chew on.

  • Krystal:

    Stacy-Thanks for this info! I didn’t know that about the marshmallow root….now if only I can find some..hmmmm

  • Great question, Andrew. Generally, the homeopathic teething tablets available over the counter for infants are soft enough that they dissolve in the mouth and don’t require chewing. They are quite small also, so should not present a choking hazard. I recommend putting them under the tongue, so they will dissolve quickly without causing the infant to gag.

  • My wife was wondering about the tablets you mentioned. She wonders how babies can chew tablets properly if they don’t have any teeth. Enjoyable article by the way.

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