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Teething Signs to Look out for and Top Tips for Teething Tots

by Hayley McLean 24 Mar 2022

There are certain stages during your child's early years that are key to their development.

Three of the key stages are walking, talking and teething. 

Whilst every child is different, and they all experience these things at their own pace, these are some of  the stages that we, as the significant adults in their lives, try to take as active a part as possible in helping their journey go smoothly. They might be natural occurrences for many, but sometimes the growth and development of our little ones is not always as pleasant a journey as we would like for them. 

We all want to be there for their first word or first steps unaided, but teething is often overlooked despite it being such an important stage in a child's developmental growth. It signifies the transition from soft foods and milk to firmer, chunkier foods which are vital for the growth of both body and brain development. It can even become quite an exciting time finding out what your little one really enjoys and seeing the looks on their faces with the new food experiences of texture they are experiencing.

Teething normally starts at between 4 and 12 months. This is not written in stone and some children are even born with teeth already formed outside of the gum. After all, all children are different because it would be pretty boring if they were all the same! Our children followed the regular path and started teething at around 4-6 months. They didn't get all of their teeth until at least 18 months.

For anyone who is about to experience teething for the first time, I've compiled this list of things we tried with my own children when they started teething. As I said, all children are different and as I myself have experienced, what works for one may not work for another. So give them a try and if the first one doesn't work, try another method, eventually you'll find the right one, or combination of a few that works for you and your tot.

Before we do the list though, there are some signs that you little one is starting to teeth

Key signs of teething:

1) Drool... and normally lots of it. This is the most obvious sign that those little teeth are about to make their debut. Better reach for the dribble bibs, you'll need them.

2) Ear rubbing. You may notice that your little cherub is suddenly rubbing around their ears often with vocal accompaniment. They're not practising for a career on the folk signing scene; this is another of their ways of telling you that teething is about to start.

3) Unexplained discomfort. Your normally passive little bundle is just not settling and seems to be out of sorts. They are more irritable and none of your usual routines seem to calm them as they normally do. They're not entering a pre-teen rebellious stage (yet), just starting to teeth.

4) A slight rash or redness on their cheeks. Naturally this is something you may get concerned about and ask the GP to check before reaching for remedies or ointments, if for no other reason it can rule out more serious things such as allergies or potential skin conditions. Upon being reassured that it is teething, then you can proceed with rash treatments suitable for your little one.

5) Gnawing or chewing things. Your little one has a metaphorical itch it just can't scratch, so it's doing what it's body is telling it to to find relief. Gnawing and chewing on things is natural, and can bring relief to many tots, it can however lead to adults ending up with dribble covered shoulders or shirt collars if you're carrying them around! 

There are other signs such as a slightly raised temperature or a redness on their gums, but it was the signs listed above that I experienced with my children.

Useful tips and tools to tame teething tots

1) The teething ring

A classic go to tool for parents of every era.

Whether you choose silicone, natural, water based or gel filled, it's worth having a variety of these at hand before your child starts teething. A lot of it is down to personal choice for you and what brings the most relief for your little one. They'll soon let you know which one works the best for them, so it might be worth picking up more than one once they have settled on their favourite variety. 

For my 3 children it was a gel filled silicon teether they could hold in one hand whilst chewing with their mouths at the other. We also found that this helped hand to mouth coordination. They can also be cooled in the fridge and this seemed to help our children deal with any discomfort whilst encouraging teeth to come through.

We also had a certain well known French Giraffe for our three (and yes we still have at least one of those in a memory box). Good old Sophie.

2) Hard Plastic teethers

These often take the form of an animal or have a handy ring built in for children to hold. They've been around for decades and are normally BPA free (check first!).

They have the advantage of being very light for little hands to lift and again help with hand to mouth coordination.

3) Cloth teethers

This style is a classic and again has been around for years. Many parents prefer natural materials for cloth teethers which often come in various animal shapes. These are again very handy and often double up as comfort toys for little ones, however they need to be cleaned and sanitised regularly so you have to keep a ready supply close at hand.

4) Soft Plastic teethers

These come in a huge variety of shapes and styles, but all have roughly similar properties. They are soft bodied, almost like a stress relief toy and are often gel or water filled. They are flexible and malleable and are often in bright fun colours for little ones to enjoy. Once again however cleaning and sterilizing is a necessity so always keep at least one spare and to hand just in case.

5) Teething necklaces

These are chewable and safety checked beads worn by the parent, for baby to chew on. These are an ideal travel friendly for out and about, and also offer some stylish functionality beyond the teething stage for Mum too! Be sure not to confuse these with amber teething necklaces, which are often recommended for baby to wear but carry many safety risks.

6) Frozen or chilled fruit

One thing my son really enjoyed was some weaning-appropriate fruits that had been popped into the fridge or freezer. To ensure safety, we used the mesh teething pouches which act kind of like a pacifier and mean that although your little one can enjoy the soothing effect of the cold fruit - it doesn't present a choking risk (always monitor your little one when using one of course).

7) Teething gel

There are plenty of off-the-shelf products designed to help ease the pain of teething, usually taking the form of a gel that can be rubbed directly onto gums to numb the area and bring some relief.

There a vast amount of teether styles and aids to choose from, so take your time and explore your options. Eventually you and your bundle of joy will find the right one for you both.

Teething can be stressful for both you and your child, but with the right tools and knowledge you can help make their journey a little be easier and remove a lot of the stress involved. After all a relaxed and happy tot can often mean a more relaxed and happier grown up. It may not seem as ground breaking as walking or talking to many, but teething is still a huge fundamental stage for your child and we all want to make every stage as pleasant and comfortable for them as we possibly can.

Before you know it their baby teeth will be replaced with their adult teeth, and tell the truth, how many of us still have our babies first tooth kept somewhere safe such as a memory box? 

More tips for baby sleep you could discover here: 5 Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better At Night.

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