The Trials of Teething and Natural Ways You Can Help Baby

Around the 6 month mark your apparently happy, settled baby may start getting fractious again, with sore, red, swollen gums, more dribbling, and quite possibly catastrophic nappy rash. It's teething time.

Although some babies may get their first teeth at around 4 or 5 months, and some later (all of ours were 7-9 months*), the symptoms will be the same and your poor little bub may be in considerable pain, usually for the first time. So just how can you do what mums and dads do best, and make it all better?

Newborn sleeping in bed. Baby cream helps!

How do I recognise teething?

Some babies are lucky enough to have less pain, but even if they're not crying and fractious with the teething, they will probably dribble more, have red, flushed cheeks, have red, possibly swollen gums, and register some discomfort when feeding. Some babies will take to biting you, the cat's tail (yep, one of ours), toys or during breastfeeding, or they may be more restless at night and just generally feeling grumpy. If you run a clean finger over the front gums, you may well feel the cutting edge of the teeth underneath the surface.

Many babies will have runnier poo or a different coloured poo (remember that newborn poo chart!) and will often suffer from nappy rash. We used cloth nappies for all of ours and had very little nappy rash, but it was pretty awful every time new teeth were coming through. With all three it was, without doubt, the worst nappy rash we had!

If your baby suffers with this too, make sure they get lots of nappy-free time with the air on their bottom, change nappies often. If possible, use cloth nappies instead of disposable diapers. Liberal application of a baby barrier ointment was a lifesaver too, as it helps to protect against the causes of nappy rash!

How can you help your teething baby?

1. Comfort.

Offer lots and lots of comfort and cuddles. Spend as much time interacting with the baby as possible, playing and keeping them busy and distracted from the pain.

2. Breastfeed on demand.

This is one of those times breastfeeding comes into its own, providing comfort, warmth and perfect mummy time for as long as baby wants and needs it. And if you think they're 'comfort feeding', so what? If comfort is what they need, let them.

3. Cold foods.

Once your baby is eating (only after 6 months of age), offer them cold apple puree straight from the fridge or ice-cold sticks of cucumber, watermelon, apple or pear to suck and chew on.

Baby eating watermelon can use some nappy cream afterwards.
4. Your finger.

Yep, simple as it sounds, giving baby your finger to chomp down on, or simply rubbing your finger across their gums can provide some relief from the throbbing pain. Try dipping your finger in a salve before offering it too. Either 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 drop of peppermint or chamomile essential oil will help. Or try a drop of vanilla extract diluted down which provides a soothing effect.

Baby playing with colorful toy
5. Teething toys.

All baby supply shops and larger supermarkets sell a wide array of teething rings, chew toys, and other items. The gel ones can be put in the fridge as they are the most effective, with the cold soothing a baby's gums while he or she chews on the toy.

6. Chamomile.

Try using cooled chamomile tea either from a sippy cup or tiny beaker, or soak a clean flannel in strong tea and then place it in a freezer bag in the fridge to partly freeze before giving it to your baby to gnaw on.

7. Mama jewellery.

Teething necklaces are better suited for teething babies as compared to teething toys, which can be dropped from a sling or carrier.

** N.B. Some children do not get their first tooth until much later, but if there is no sign by their first birthday, consult your GP or health visitor.