Teething is one of the most over-exaggerated chapters in the great book of parenting lore. While it can be uncomfortable for your kid, there are as many natural teething remedies and surefire solutions for tooth-growing fussiness as there are old wives tales of teething horror. With a little knowledge, you can handle teething naturally at home. Amber teething necklaces (are you really shocked it’s a thing?) most definitely not required.
First some tooth truth. Teething generally starts between 3 and 7 months, with the 2 front teeth first to appear, followed by molars and then the eye teeth, or canines. Now, everyone say it together: Every kid is different.
If your kid starts teething ahead of or behind that schedule, it’s probably genetics and nothing’s wrong. Unless the eye teeth come first. Then your kid’s a vampire. (But seriously, chill out).
Next, what to expect. Along with swelling and redness, most kids experience some soreness or irritability of the gums, but think how you’d feel if you had super sharp bone shards pushing through your tender little gums. Yeah, ouch is right. In some cases, there may be a slight fever, usually not surpassing 101. In all cases, there will be a desire to chew on everything in sight.
About that: go with a simple rubber teething ring. Or a Sophie The Giraffe. Nobody knows how or why, but babies universally love her. Hell, if they’re on to solid foods, a peeled, chilled cucumber or carrot will even work for gnawing (although you’ll have to watch for choking danger). Just avoid anything too hard and cold, like those “Freeze before using” jobbers; they can actually damage tender gums. When in doubt, you can always offer your fingers for a gentle gum rubdown. Kiddo will appreciate it, unless you just downed a plate of hot wings. Which is a good reminder (that should be obvious): wash your hands first.
Here’s an old wives’ tale within an old wives’ tale: topical pain relievers. As you and every surface in your house know, babies slobber. Constantly. The numbing agent will be washed off in no time, plus they can be downright dangerous if your kid swallows too much. If they’re truly next-level cranky, over-the-counter pain remedies like acetaminophen or ibuprofen could restore everyone’s sanity and are doctor-approved. Just check with yours first.
When the teeth finally emerge, care for those chiclets with a soft baby toothbrush. As always, follow the advice of professionals, not your Uncle Finnegan, who swears a little whiskey on their gums will do the trick. Like youth, the good stuff is wasted on your kid. That goes in your mouth.