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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Teething 101: Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures!

Cue the Jaws music... those teeth are coming! (Haha I guess 'Jaws' works on 2 levels!) ;) It's hard to know when your baby is about to pop a tooth, but you probably have a good idea when there's one trying to make it's debut. Aside from an increase in irritability, there are other signs you can look out for that indicate your baby may be starting to teeth. According to IncredibleInfant.com, there are 9 'sure fire' signs your bumpkin has chompers on the way:

1. You actually see and/ or feel a tooth (well duh) lol

2. Tons of drool

3. Chewing & chomping on anything & everything!

4. Coughing on drool (due to an increase in saliva)

5. Baby is grumpier/ crankier

6. Sleep becomes a thing of the past (noooooooo!)

7. Baby pulls on ears (as if s/ he has an ear infection)

8. Baby develops a red rash around mouth/ lower face- aka rash beard (again due to increased drooling)

9. Blood in the mouth (what!?!) due to blood blisters forming under the gums, rising to the surface & popping- don't worry, apparently this is painless, just not pretty to look at

For a more in- depth look at the above list, check out Incredible Infant's article here.

To get a better idea of what teeth to expect when, check out the chart below:

Image Source: http://www.incredibleinfant.com/teething-baby/signs-of-teething/

Like a hangover, it's great to know what the symptoms are but a bit of an anomaly to relieve the problem. ;) A lot of my friends- including myself- have youngsters in various stages of teething. And we all share the same collective outlook: a very sarcastic 'yippee'. Since teething usually lasts until your child is 2- 3 years old, you know you're in for a bit a wild ride, albeit a long one. And as the adage goes, every child is different. So some inevitably will handle their pearly whites popping up better than others.

Since there's been so much conversation in my life about this topic lately, I thought I'd try to collect & narrow down all of the discussion, tips, & advice (aka survival tactics!) on the subject. So below I've outlined some of the suggestions I've heard for soothing your youngster during teething, ranging from traditional tried & true remedies to new & natural. Hopefully you'll find one or more suggestions that will work for your family. :)


Image Source: 

These puppies come in all shapes, sizes, colours, styles..... I think you get it. The idea is that your chomp monster can take their frustration out on one of these to help sooth their gums and help the tooth break through. Whether you go with the cult favourite, Sophie the giraffe (above, approx. $20- $25), a water- filled (below, prices vary) or solid teether, or any of the countless other options, you should have no problem finding some that work for you. Some food for thought: the water filled versions are meant to be refrigerated, since the coolness is supposed to help soothe the gums. However, I know of at least one Mom whose little one prefers room temperature or warm teethers (especially Mommy's fingers!). Also consider the texture of the teether; again some babies may find the bumpiness more irritating than soothing. As always, it comes down to what your child prefers.

Image Source: http://www.satarababy.com/product/natursutten-fish-teether

Other things you may want to consider are where the teethers are made and/ or if they are painted, and the materials they're made out of. According to this amazing blog I found while researching this post, Gimmethegoodstuff.org, you should avoid teethers made in China- good luck, but they do exist- especially those with painted surfaces, since the paint could contain lead.

If you decide to go with a plastic version, look for ones that are BPA and phthalate free (teethers that go in the freezer typically are made with PVC plastic containing phthalates). However, some make the argument that any of the plastic versions are a no- go, since plastic is known to affect hormones in the body2. It's a tough call for any parent, especially when you've got a youngster in pain. If you're wary of the plastic options, I have some alternative suggestions below.

Image Source: http://www.inhabitots.com/maple-teether-by-camden-rose/

Natural wood teethers, like the Camden Rose teether (above, approx. $10) are a good option. The hard surface gives baby relief without you having to worry about chemicals. You can also purchase beeswax to help keep them battle- ready for your lil one.

Another option is to store rolled wet face clothes in a container in the fridge. The nice thing about this option is you have complete control of what goes in your youngster's mouth and don't have to worry about chemicals, etc. Plus, the soft material could be just what your baby needs to chomp on, since they can vary the relief from a soft gum massage to a good ol' chomping. I have heard of people using frozen cloths, but was advised by our local health unit to avoid doing so because tiny ice particles can shave off and hurt babies' gums (and lordy knows, we don't want to add to the problem!). Again, as the parent, trust your instincts and just be aware of what the pros and cons are of various options. 

Natural Teething Relief

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Amber necklaces: I'm sure you've seen these everywhere. There is some debate whether these are more fashion statement than effective teething soother, but I know plenty of Moms who swear by their success. While your child wears the necklace (or bracelet/ anklet), they do not chew on them to gain relief. The science behind this is the succinic acid, which is known to have healing abilities, including pain relief1. Amber contains a high concentration of the acid, which is released in trace amounts when your child wears it (the warmth of their body is what aids in the release of the succinic acid). Please note: you should remove the necklace for sleep; some parents will wrap it around their child's ankle & using footed pjs will help hold it in place. If you'd like to check out a local company that offers quality amber necklaces, check out Ned & Macs.

Cost: $10- $20

Image Source: http://well.ca/products/boiron-camilia-teething-relief-30d_8111.html

Several of the Moms I know have used Camilia drops with some success. I had never heard of them before having Ari, but since I am all for as natural an approach wherever possible was glad to hear such a thing existed. These drops are free from additives like colouring & flavour and come in pre- measured doses. You can administer doses in intervals of as little as 15 minutes, with a maximum of 12 doses per day; you should see results within the first 33. I also like that this product is great to use leading up to bedtime and/ or as your baby gets fussier. When you start to notice your baby getting irritable, you can administer the first dose and continue until bedtime as needed to help sooth them. One of my friends has used this technique and felt it was the best use of the drops, since you could easily go through a box in a little over 2 days otherwise. 

Cost: approx. $16 for 30 doses

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Another product tried & tested by some Moms I know are the Hyland's Baby Teething Tablets. With these, you place 2- 3 of the soft tablets under baby's tongue 4 times a day; you can also dissolve them in water to make them easier to administer. According to the company's website, the tablets can also help your little one go to sleep since their pain has been relieved. Again, parent's can administer a 'nighttime dose' to help get the youngster soothed & settled ( 1 tablet every 2 hours for 6 hours). Another natural option worth a try. :)

Cost: approx. $11- $12 for 135 tablets

Traditional Teething Relief

For those of you who remain wary of natural remedies, there are several go- to options that have been around as long as I can remember. Heck, I remember my Mum using this stuff when I was a kid.

Image Source: https://www.valuevalet.ca/TYLENOL-INFANTS-Drops-White-Grape-Flavour-Dye-Free-15-ml-45594.html

To start, there's good ol' Tylenol & Advil infant drops (among other name brand options(. These are usually appropriate for babies aged 0- 24 months. Aside from teething relief, they help with other ailments, including cold & cough symptoms, fever & ear ache relief. Medicines like these are usually in a flavoured liquid form administered with a dropper, so are parent & baby user friendly. The dose you use is determined by the age of your child, so check the recommended dose on the box.  (There's also a dosage calculator on the Tylenol website). 

Cost: approx. $6- $7 for 15 ml

One last piece of info I'd like to share: While researching products for this post I found out that you should avoid buying medicine that contains benzocaine, a common ingredient in gel and liquid pain relief products. In fact, one of the products that I was going to include got ousted from this post because it contains benzocaine. According to WebMD, among other sources, "benzocaine is associated with a rare but serious condition called methemoglobinemia, which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream. In the most severe cases, the condition can be life-threatening". 

As always, it is important to do your research, talk to other Moms, and trust your instincts, It can be hard to find something that works to help your little one (and you!) get through the challenge and pain of teething. I hope this post offers some insight & suggestions that help. And when all else fails, indulge in a good bottle of wine! 

Please note: I did my best to offer an unbiased opinion on the suggestions made here. My main source for recommendations came from other Moms who have tried the products with varying degrees of success. I hope this post serves to help outline what options are available, and hopefully offer some new suggestions. As with all things related to babies & youngsters, trust your instincts and if you have any concerns, speak with your GP, naturopath, etc. We're always going to hear a variety of opinions that don't always agree with our own. I just hope to help by offering some information in one place as a  starting point. :)

Want to try some of these products for yourself? You can find some of the products mentioned in this post online here.

1. http://blog.bellanimaternity.com/index.php/2011/02/28/how-do-amber-teething-necklaces-work/
2. http://gimmethegoodstuff.org/safe-product-guides/teethers
3. http://well.ca/products/boiron-camilia-teething-15d_22663.html?gclid=CIDV7IOZuroCFStgMgodRF4Acw