Sunday, July 22, 2012
Natural Teething Remedies
Jo's third tooth finally broke through her gums on Friday!
Oliver's first four teeth had come through all at once. In fact, he got one on the bottom, followed by one on the top before the other bottom one came through. So, when Jo's first two teeth lower came in a couple months ago, I assumed her two upper teeth were close behind. Nope! We waited two months for this bad boy.
I'll tell you one thing that's similar to her brother, though: Joanna doesn't teethe well. All day Friday and Saturday, she wanted to nurse. Jo usually doesn't care about nursing much, but for two days, she just kept smacking her head on my shoulder and sucking on my skin. Let's just say we've taken a few steps backward in the weaning process. She also started shrugging her shoulders, as if her ears were in pain. I was actually about to ask my mother-in-law, a physician's assistant, to check her ears for infection when the tooth finally broke through.
Teething isn't much easier the second time around. It got me thinking about first time parents. I remember how tough it was figuring out what to do to help my baby. Most of us are very reluctant to use medication to treat gum pain, especially when our babies are very young. I've asked around and came up with a list of natural teething remedies. Some have worked better than others for my kids, but all children are different, so try them out to see what works for you.
One of the nurses at the health department swore by this remedy. She told me it was the only thing that worked for her babies. She told me that she washed some green onions really well and then stuck them in the freezer. Once frozen, she handed them to her baby to chomp on. I tried this remedy with Oliver at an age when he put anything and everything into his mouth. He would not chew on the onions. Jo chomped away and seemed to enjoy it, but it quickly lost its rigidity. After a few minutes, I chose to take it away from her rather than have to fish out pieces of onion from her mouth.
Frozen Wash Cloth
I'm not going to lie to you. I learned this teething method back when my last dog, Bailey, was a puppy. When puppies are teething, they chew up everything. This worked for her, so I reasoned, why not try it for my babies? Run a clean wash cloth under water. Ring it out so that it's just damp, tie it into a knot, and then stick it in the freezer. By tying it into a knot first, it stays frozen longer. Hand it to your baby to chomp on, or, if they're too little or don't like touching the cold cloth, just hold it yourself.
You're not going to always have something handy for your baby to chew on. When you're in a pinch, just wash your hands and let your baby chomp on the bottom-most part of your thumb. Babies can bite hard, but I've found that the fatty part of my thumb and that bottom knuckle can take the pain well.
My friend told me her boys loved chomping their gums on empty corn cobs. I was so intrigued by her suggestion that I went out to the store and bought some corn that very day. After we cooked and ate our corn, my husband took a knife and scraped off the remaining bits of corn from the cooled cob. He also cut off one end that was pretty flimsy. Once we were confident our baby wouldn't be able to break off any pieces of the cob, we gave it to her. Oh my. I'm pretty sure this was the baby equivalent of winning the lottery. She wouldn't give her cob up for anything. I can't say for sure that it helped with any teething pain, but, at the very least, it distracted her from it because she cared about nothing but that cob. Since then, we've given her a scraped cob every time we've eaten corn on the cob. She's always overjoyed. In fact, she recognizes corn cobs now, and she kicks excitedly and yells at us in anticipation during dinner when we serve corn.
Would you believe that I first heard about this idea back in the 90s, watching an episode of Home Improvement? I gave Oliver a frozen waffle when he was still quite little to help with teething pain, but he gummed hunks of waffle off. I kept having to fish the pieces out of his mouth to prevent choking. I nixed the waffle idea until he was a bit older. At about a year old, the frozen waffle worked like a charm. We'd give him a waffle straight from the freezer, and he'd eat it as is. Chewing the frozen waffle helped numb his gums and gave him relief.
Especially for little babies with teething pain, breastfeeding can be very effective. Oliver always wanted to nurse when he was teething. Jo usually wants to nurse when her gums are swollen, but sometimes breastfeeding causes her to cry out. The sucking can provide relief, or it can cause pain. Your baby might want to nurse more frequently, but for shorter periods.
There are toys out there designed specifically for teething. What's nice about teething toys is they're designed not to break, and they often have handles for easy gripping. Many have squishy gel parts that feel good on sore gums. You can't freeze those toys because the gel packs can burst, but you can refrigerate them. Some teething toys also vibrate. Neither of my kids liked the vibrating teethers as babies, but my toddler son enjoys biting on them now, even though he's no longer teething.
Did any of these natural teething remedies work for you? Are there any others you've tried and liked, or ones that failed?