Teething can not only be painful for your baby but can be distressing too. It is difficult for them to understand what is happening to them and frustrating for you to watch. It will usually start when your baby reaches the age of five to seven months, with their bottom front teeth coming through first followed by the four upper teeth about a month later. The incisors will come next then the molars, the canine and eyeteeth.
Teething can cause a number of symptoms including irritability, drooling, low-grade fever and crying. The new teeth cutting through and swollen gums around the teeth, which are often tender, can cause your baby pain. Although your child may run a slight fever when teething you should contact your GP immediately if it persists or goes over one hundred degrees.
You can help relieve your baby’s discomfort by gently massaging the gums with a finger or by giving your child a teether. Alternatively ask your pharmacist for recommended remedies. Teeth should be cleaned with a soft child’s toothbrush and you should never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle.
Here are some advantages:
- Sucking is a natural instinct for your baby so they may be happiest when they’re sucking on something.
- When your baby’s hungry, a soother will pacify your baby temporarily while you prepare your baby’s feed or find a suitable location to breast feed when out and about. You may also like to use the soother in situations which are stressful for your baby, for example when having injections, blood tests or other procedures.
- If your baby has trouble settling down at bedtime, a night time soother might do the trick.
- If your child prefers to suck on his or her thumb or fingers, it may be more difficult to break the habit. A soother is dispensable, so when it’s time to stop using pacifiers, you can throw them away.
Here are some disadvantages:
- Early use of a soother may interfere with breast-feeding. Sucking on a breast is different from sucking on a pacifier or bottle. Some babies have trouble learning how to breast feed properly if they’re given a pacifier too soon. For this reason, wait a few months until breastfeeding is established before offering a soother to your baby.
- Your baby may become dependent on the pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier to sleep, you may face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth. It is good practice to not automatically put soothers back into your baby’s mouth so they do not come dependant on this action.
- Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections. However, rates of middle ear infections are generally lowest from birth to age 6 months — when the risk of SIDS is the highest and your baby may be most interested in a pacifier.
- Prolonged pacifier use may lead to dental problems. Normal pacifier use during the first few years of life doesn’t cause long-term dental problems. However, prolonged pacifier use may cause a child’s top front teeth to slant outward or not come in properly.
- Wait until you have established breast-feeding with your baby. It may take a few weeks or more to settle into a regular breast feeding routine.
- Don’t use a soother automatically to sooth your baby. Start by trying a change of position or a rocking your baby to try and calm and sooth him if he is crying crying baby.
- If your baby seems hungry, offer the breast or a bottle.
- Soothers made of two pieces can pose a choking hazard if they break. When your baby is happy with a particular type or brand of soother, keep a few identical backups on hand as your baby may not like to change to a new brand.
- If your baby’s not interested in the pacifier try again later, or try and alternative type of soothing product. If the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while he or she is sleeping, don’t pop it back in automatically.
- Keep it clean. Before you offer your baby a soother, wash it with soap and water and allow it to dry thoroughly. Resist the temptation to clean the soother in your own mouth. You’ll only spread more germs to your baby. A soother clip is a good way to prevent the soother getting dirty when it falls out of your baby’s mouth. However, use caution with soother clips. Never use a string or strap long enough to get caught around your baby’s neck.
- Keep it safe. Replace pacifiers often, and watch for signs of deterioration. A worn or cracked nipple can tear off and pose a choking hazard.
- Know when to stop using the soother. If ear infections are a concern, you might begin to wean your child from a pacifier at age 6 months. Most toddlers stop using soothers on their own between ages 2 and 4. If you’re concerned about your child’s pacifier use, consult his or her doctor for suggestions.