The end of pregnancy is hard. The first few months of being a brand-new mom? Even harder.
But then just around the three-month mark, something amazing happens. Everything becomes easier. Your baby smiles, makes eye contact, gurgles. Feeding is (finally) a breeze. And if you’re really lucky, maybe your baby is sleeping through the night.
Of course that’s when life throws you a curve ball, otherwise known as teething.
Teething is often the difference between a solid night of shuteye and the bloodshot-eye blues. It’s like a thunderstorm that comes without warning. One day your baby is a cooing, squeezable delight. Then a dark cloud crosses over her face, streams of drool trickle down her chin and nothing will cheer her up.
You’ll know it’s teething when…
You won’t really know that those pearly whites were to blame for that long night of wailing until after the teeth have come through, but most moms will agree that the following symptoms typically crop up just before babies cut teeth:
-A lot more drooling than usual
-A bit of a diaper rash
-Not sleeping or feeding as well as usual
-Possibly even a fever
Back in the day, our grandmas used to give our moms and dads a little whiskey to soothe teething—of course back then, in the Wild, Wild West of parenting, they also thought it was OK to smoke during pregnancy and that an “infant seat” was a spot on mom’s lap, who sat next to dad in the front row of the car!
Baby, we’ve come a long way since then. There are so many many natural, non-medicinal approaches to teething—so you can get your baby the comfort she needs without worrying about whether what she’s ingesting is unsafe.
My favorite drug-free cure is Hyland’s Teething Tablets. I’m not sure what’s in these things, but I know what’s not in this 100% natural homeopathic remedy: dyes, artificial flavors or parabens. I’ve had three kids…and let’s just say the reason my oldest isn’t an only child (after what we went through when he cut his one-year molars) may have something to do with Hyland’s. For a little extra reinforcement, dab some Hyland’s Baby Teething Gel on those swollen gums.
Combining pain relief and playtime, teething toys are a must-have for your diaper bag. I’d get a vibrating teether, some BPA-free toy keys (much safer to chew on!) and a toy or two with a chewy ring. Sassy even makes a book that’s made to be chewed on.
As great as these toys are, they’re not always going to get the job done. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your baby will probably cut a few teeth that you’ll never forget. To the point that when your child is 7 years old and you’re playing the Tooth Fairy, you’ll glance at what he hid under his pillow and say, “Hello, incisors. So we meet again.”
That’s when you want acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol)—or go for the strong stuff with Infants’ Advil, which can last up to 8 hours. Make sure you use a formula for children or infants and make sure you call the pediatrician to get the right dosage. I know, I know—we don’t want to give our babies medications they don’t need. But for those few teeth that are truly terrorizing your baby, medicine can be a very good thing!
Jorie Mark is Vitacost.com’s Director of Marketing Communications and mom to three kids, ages 3 to 10.