If your baby is fussing and squirming during feeding, is drooling excessively or has a bad diaper rash, the chances are your baby may be teething. The first step for finding a remedy for your baby's teething is recognizing the signs of teething.
Your bay's teething discomfort can start well before teeth even come through. Every baby is born with a set of 20 teeth hidden beneath the gums. Just before they erupt you should be able to feel the indentations of the teeth by running your finger along your baby's gums. The first set of teeth, called the milk teeth (also called baby teeth or deciduous teeth), usually begin to erupt at about six months, although they can appear earlier (and very rarely, a child is born with a tooth already in place). Sometimes teeth are a bit slower to emerge - anything up to a year may be normal.
The first teeth to erupt are usually the front four teeth (the incisors), typically the bottom teeth followed by the top. The baby's back teeth, called the first molars, usually appear when the child is between thirteen and nineteen months old. The first molars sit just behind the canine teeth. At around sixteen to twenty-two months of age, the canine teeth emerge. Finally, the second molars, at the back of the mouth erupt.
Although we often refer to teething as ‘cutting a tooth', the emergence of babies’ teeth doesn't actually cut through the flesh. Instead, chemical signals between the cells in the gums cause some cells to selectively die and separate, allowing the teeth to push through.
By keeping a close eye on your baby you should be able to spot the signs of teething. Some of the more common teething symptoms include; general irritability, fussiness when feeding, excessive drooling (sometimes accompanied by a rash), chewing on everything that comes to hand, diarrhea and diaper rash - sometimes very red and spotty.
Teething remedies are varied. The most effective is to take your baby's mind off the discomfort. Giving your baby lots of cuddles and playing often works. You can also massage your baby's gums, using a wet finger or soothing gels and other products from the chemist: experts caution against the excessive use of teething gels as they contain benzocaine - there is a risk of allergic reaction. Teething rings are also very effective - especially when first placed in a fridge and cooled. You can use natural, old-fashioned rings, such as bagels, bread or even vegetables. There are many natural and homeopathic teething remedies you could try.
Natural Homeopathic teething remedies include a stick of licorice and chamomilla. Any parent contemplating using a homeopathic remedy for teething should do so only in conjunction with expert medical advice. Homeopathic teething remedies include: Apis mellifica (meaning whole bee) - used to ease swollen gums before and after the eruption of teeth; Kreosotum can ease a child's stress when she has irritating saliva and severe discomfort during teething. Kreosotum is very beneficial if a baby's teeth succumb to decay soon after erupting from the gums; Pulsatilla is especially good for teething babies who are nervous, clingy, or tearful. There are more homeopathic teething remedies you can try.
What teething remedy is best depends on you and your baby. Some babies can be distracted from the discomfort of teething, whereas some can suffer much discomfort. If one teething remedy doesn't work, then try another. If your child's discomfort is excessive you should talk to your doctor about further information and advice on baby teething.
Teething is not a serious problem. Teething, and its associated problems and side-effects are something we all go through. We all pass through this right of passage without ever remembering the discomfort of teething; it's only as a parent that you remember.
Robin O'Brien is founder of a website dedicated to baby teething . There, you can learn everything from teething symptoms to teething remedies .