Teething is a significant developmental milestone in your baby's life, but it can be a challenging time for both babies and parents. It often brings discomfort, irritability, and, at times, a loss of appetite. If you're a parent navigating this phase, rest assured that it's a natural process, and there are ways to ease your baby's discomfort.
Today, we'll guide you through recognizing teething symptoms, understanding the impact on appetite, and providing effective remedies.
Identifying Teething Symptoms
Teething typically begins around 4-7 months of age, although it can vary from one baby to another. To determine if your baby is teething, look out for these common signs:
- Excessive drooling: Your baby might drool more than usual, leading to rashes around their mouth.
- Irritability: Teething can make babies extra fussy and clingy due to the discomfort they feel.
- Sore gums: Gums become sensitive and swollen during teething, causing discomfort.
- Loss of appetite: Many babies reject or turn away from food during teething, which can be worrisome for parents.
- Chewing on objects: Babies may constantly put their hands, toys, or any available objects into their mouths to relieve gum discomfort.
- Fussiness and clinginess: Teething often makes babies more irritable and in need of extra attention.
- Slight elevated temperature: A mild increase in body temperature (not exceeding 100 degrees Celsius) is possible but should not be confused with a high fever.
TIP: It's important to note that high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and diaper rash are not typical symptoms of teething, although some parents may mistakenly attribute them to teething.
Teething & Loss of Appetite
Teething can significantly impact your baby's appetite due to several factors:
- Pain and discomfort: Teething is an uncomfortable process, and babies may find it challenging to eat with sore gums. They might reject their favorite foods or become fussy during mealtimes.
- Mood swings: Some babies are sensitive to bodily changes during teething, altering their sense of taste and texture perception. This sensitivity can make foods less appealing.
Remember, it's perfectly normal for your baby to eat less during teething. They primarily rely on breast or formula milk for nutrition, and any temporary reduction in solid food intake is usually compensated for by increased milk consumption.
Helping Your Baby through Teething Discomfort
While a decrease in appetite during teething is temporary, you can take steps to ease your baby's discomfort:
- Offer cold items for gum relief
- Breast milk or formula milk popsicles: Create nutritious and soothing popsicles by freezing breast milk or formula in ice cube trays.
- Chilled washcloth: Dampen a clean washcloth, twist it into a stick shape, and chill it in the freezer (not frozen). Let your baby chew on the chilled washcloth.
- Chilled foods: Offer cold foodstuffs like yogurt/curd, cold mashed bananas, or other cold fruits.
- Gently massage sore gumsUse clean fingers or a wet washcloth to gently apply pressure to your baby's gums in a circular motion. This massage can alleviate discomfort.
Provide teething toys
Offering cold, homemade teethers or regular teethers at various times during the day can provide relief. Chewing on teething toys helps alleviate gum discomfort. However, ensure that the teething toys do not contain gel-based fillings.
- Avoid placing teething toys in the freezer as frozen toys can potentially harm your baby's gums.
- Never tie a string or thread around a teether for hanging around your baby's neck, as this poses a significant risk of accidental strangulation
- Use resistive foodsFoods with some resistance, like cucumber, mango pits, or corn on the cob, can work as natural teethers. You can also dip silicone ladles or large spoons in cold puree or yogurt and offer them for chewing/gnawing to your baby.
- Maintain breast or bottle feeding Continue offering breast or bottle feeds on demand. Sucking motions can provide comfort and pain relief, and breast milk is known to have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.
- DistractionEngage your baby with fun activities or songs to temporarily divert their attention from teething discomfort
- Prevent teething rashes. Frequent drooling during teething can lead to rashes around your baby's mouth. Gently wipe these areas to keep them comfortable. If your baby appears to be in severe pain or you have concerns, consult your healthcare provider to rule out any complications.
Best Foods for Teething
Due to their sensitive and tender gums, eating can be an uncomfortable experience for teething babies. You can try offering a variety of foods to discover your baby's preferences.
Some babies may find solace in softer foods, while others might prefer the soothing sensation of crunchier options.
1) Chilled, pureed, or mashed foods
2) Soft foods like millet khichdi, dal rice, curd rice, upma, bhurji, pongal, and soft fruits or vegetables that require minimal chewing
3) Frozen fruits and vegetables or cold finger foods as natural teethers
4) Frozen waffles and pancakes can be offered to your baby
What to Avoid During Teething
Certain treatments should be avoided during your baby's teething phase:
1) Steer clear of over-the-counter (OTC) solutions such as teething tablets and teething gels. There is evidence indicating their ineffectiveness, and recent laboratory examinations have revealed potential adverse effects, including seizures or respiratory difficulties.
2) Teething medications containing benzocaine and lidocaine, intended as pain relievers, can pose risks to the baby. These medications include a numbing agent, which, if administered to an infant, can result in numbing of their tongue and the inside of their mouth. These remedies have associated harmful side effects.
When the tongue becomes numb, the baby might unintentionally bite it without feeling the sensation, and eating can become challenging due to the temporary loss of feeling in the tongue.
3) Teething necklaces or bracelets can pose multiple risks including choking, strangulation, and mouth infection.
4) Teething biscuits or rusks which contain sugar are unsuitable for babies below 1 year and can be choking hazards. Feel free to use teething puffs that are child-friendly and appropriate.
5) Consult your doctor if you're considering oral pain relief for your baby, consult your healthcare provider for safe and appropriate options.
Remember, teething is a natural milestone in your baby's growth, and while it can be challenging, it's temporary. Your baby is growing healthily, and they will eventually move past this discomfort.
Be patient, offer love and attention, and if you have any concerns, don't hesitate to consult your doctor. You're doing a great job in caring for your little one during this important phase of their life!