Teething is a normal and natural developmental process. The prime time for teething is between 3 to 18 months. During this time period parents characterize many behaviors to this developmental phenomenon. Behaviors associated with teething may wax and wane and vary with intensity. Common physiological changes include changes in sleep patterns, drooling, biting/chewing, ear rubbing, diarrhea, red cheeks, and generalized fussiness and fever. Keeping in mind every child is different and some do not experience any symptoms at all.
Parents receive a lot of conflicting advice, especially when it comes to pain management from teething. Teething at times may be uncomfortable although if the process is painful has not been determined. Just because a baby is teething doesn’t mean they require pain medications. There are safe solutions to keep your little one comfortable during this milestone.
Through observation we see chewing on clean, hard, cool objects capable of providing relief. These objects could include safe BPA free teething rings, organic cloth or wood rings designed specifically for teething. Choose products from reputable companies that are free from dyes, chemicals and fluids. Another option that doesn’t require an additional purchase, would be to supervise as your baby chews on cold raw vegetables such as cucumber, broccoli or cauliflower.
Another safe option is to use homeopathy. Homeopathy is gentle, individualized medicine based on the principle of “likes cure likes”. Individualized remedies are matched, based on your child’s symptom picture which include physical appearance, behaviour as well as emotional state. Common teething remedies include; Chamomilla, Pulsatilla, Podophyllum, Belladonna, Calcarea carbonic and Coffea. Always consult with a trained Homeopath or Naturopathic doctor before administering any remedy.
What is not advisable to apply over-the-counter topical medications. A recent 2014 statement published by the WHO states;
“the FDA advises parents and caregivers not to use over-the-counter topical medications for teething pain. A 2011 communication had warned against benzocaine gels as they can cause methaemoglobinaemia, a rare but life-threatening adverse effect decreasing the amount of oxygen carried through the blood. Instead, teething pain can be relieved by using a chilled (not frozen) teething ring, and by gently rubbing or massaging the child’s gums with a finger.”
The take home message is when possible comfort your baby with love, compassion and safe therapies. Teething is a normal part of development and does not need to be treated aggressively. Common sense must also be used. If your child is excessively irritable, has a significantly decreased appetite, or signs of illness such as fever, vomiting, or diarrhea the child should be evaluated by your primary health care provider.
My personal advice to parents is to hang in there. This is a phase that will pass. Cuddle lots and hold on to your kids. You will look back and miss these times, I promise.
“Lidocaine oral viscous solution: not to be used in teething pain.” WHO Drug Information Summer 2014: 326. Academic OneFile. Web. 5 July 2016.