Teething is one of the most common causes of frequent night waking during the second six months and through the second year. It can also cause fussy nursing behavior, as some babies experience gum discomfort with sucking. Baby might start to nurse, but then pull off and cry or fuss and not want to nurse anymore. Other babies nurse nearly constantly because the nursing is soothing to them.

Some things that help teething babies:

  • “Anesthetize” baby’s gums with a frozen/refrigerated teething ring, or rub ice cube on his gums (you can even make a game of it). Try to get baby to nurse. If he pulls off/screams again, repeat the ice-rub.
  • Put some crushed ice into a clean baby sock and tie off the top. Since it can “mold” around the gum, this is often helpful for painful teething. The fabric is easy and comfortable for baby to handle and babies like the texture of the fabric, too.
  • Freeze or refrigerate a wet wash cloth for baby to chew on.
  • Talk to your baby’s doctor about using a baby pain reliever 30-45 minutes before nursing.
  • Some babies are helped by homeopathic teething tablets.
  • Teething babies occasionally bite; if your baby bites, see When Baby Bites.
  • Here are some tips in case baby refuses to nurse due to teething pain.

Moms of teething babies sometimes get sore nipples from baby’s gumming or “chewing” from discomfort (see above link on biting) or due to the increased saliva that comes with teething.

Not recommended for teething:

  • Do NOT use Orajel/benzocaine, viscous lidocaine, (or other topical anesthetics) in infants or young children, as there are serious health risks. In addition to the health dangers, this type of product can also numb baby’s mouth and make breastfeeding very difficult for baby. As of May 31, 2012, the US FDA recommends that parents and caregivers not use benzocaine products for children younger than 2 years, except under the advice and supervision of a health care professional, as their use can lead to a rare but very serious condition called methemoglobinemia. As of June 26, 2014, the US FDA warns that oral viscous lidocaine 2 percent solution can cause serious harm, including death, and should not be used to treat infants and children with teething pain.
  • Amber or hazelwood necklaces are often recommended for use on teething babies. There is no evidence that these products diminish teething pain, and necklaces are both a strangulation and (if the necklace breaks) a choking hazard.
  • Some sources recommend that clove oil be avoided in children under the age of two. Ingesting too much can be dangerous for baby.


Additional information

Teething from AskDrSears.com

Teething from kidshealth.org

Teething basics by Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

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