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A baby’s first teeth (known as milk or deciduous teeth) usually develop while the child is growing in the womb. In most babies, these teeth start to emerge through the gums when they are around six months old. This process is known as teething.

Crying more at night, demanding more attention, excessive dribbling, refusing feeds because their gums hurt, chewing on their hands and disrupted sleep patterns. A slightly raised temperature can be a sign too but if it’s above 39°C it’s more likely to be a fever; all these are signs of teething.

Teething can be very painful for some babies, most times your baby has sore gums for a month or two before the tooth breaks through. This can be a very difficult time for both parent and child, however there are some things that you can do to soothe the pain:

  • Teething rings

Teething rings give your baby something to safely chew on, which may ease their discomfort and provide a distraction from any pain. Chewing will help your baby to relieve the pain and pressure on her gums caused by the emerging tooth. There are some teething rings that can be put in the fridge, this gives your baby a soothing relief. However, follow the instructions that come with the ring so you know how long to chill it for. Never put a teething ring in the freezer as it could damage your baby's gums if it becomes very hard or cold. An alternative to a teething ring is a cold wet flannel.

  • Chewing

Chewing can also help soothe tour baby. If she has started solids, you can try giving her cold pieces of hard carrot, apples to suck/chew on, crust of bread or a breadstick. Remember to stay close to your child when your child chews on this food to prevent choking. Avoid any items that contain lots of sugar as this can cause tooth decay even if your child only has a few teeth.

  • Teething gels

If your baby is older than four months, you can try rubbing some sugar-free teething gel on her sore gums. Teething gels often contain a mild local anaesthetic, which helps to numb any pain or discomfort caused by teething. The gels may also contain antiseptic ingredients, which help to prevent infection in any sore or broken skin in your baby's mouth. If you don't have a gel, try rubbing your baby's gum with your clean finger instead (only parents should do this because of hygiene purposes).

  • Cool food

If you have introduced your baby to solids, you could try feeding her cold foods. You can try plain yoghurt, cucumber, puree; these will make soothing snacks.

  • Sugar-free painkillers

If your baby is in serious pain, try giving the correct dose of infant paracetamol or ibuprofen.  This is only suitable for babies aged three months or more. Always follow the dosage instructions that come with the medicine. If you are unsure about the dosage, ask a pharmacist or your doctor.

  • Cool drinks

Cool, sugar-free drinks will help to soothe your baby's gums and may help if they are dribbling excessively. The best option is to give them cool water, however make sure it is not too cold.

  • A warm bath can make your baby relax and keep him comfortable.
  • If you breastfeeding your baby, You can make feeder bags by freezing breast milk using ice cube trays and give your baby to suck on. If you are not breastfeeding, You can do the same thing with chamomile tea.

NOTE: During this period your baby may be feeling too irritable or restless to play, your baby needs you the most. She will appreciate all the cuddles and kisses, sing songs, read books; comforting your little one goes a long way. Playing with your baby can sometimes distract them from the pain in their gums; it is a good way of getting them to concentrate on something other than their teething pain.

If teething is making your baby dribble more than usual, make sure you frequently wipe their chin and the rest of their face. This will help to prevent them from developing a rash. Your baby can alsos sleep on an absorbent sheet during this period.

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