10 Tips for Success
At Bilby and Bear, we know toddlers bring their own set of challenges. We’re here to help you navigate this new stage with your child. Parenting a toddler requires patience and an understanding of their development. They can communicate with you on some level, but you must infer much from their behavior and actions. You might recognize some of the signs of teething from infancy, such as crankiness, excessive drooling, and constant chewing. These back molars differ from other teeth. They are double-edged and larger. Both of these characteristics cause more intense pain as they erupt from the gums. Below are some tips to help you tackle toddler teething.
1. Rub Gums
When you notice inflamed gums in your toddler, you can start massaging the area with your clean fingers. However, use caution! Remember, they already have some teeth and they don’t realize biting hurts. Massage the affected gums with cool water. The pressure from your fingertips will ease gum pain. You can also teach your child to do this herself. This tactic is especially helpful before feeding your child. A quick gum massage might alleviate the pain long enough for your toddler/child to finish his/her meal.
2. Cool Gums
In addition to pressure, a cool touch will reduce pain. Teething toys designed for toddlers can greatly help. Look for a toy designed to reach the back of the mouth. Pop it in the fridge or freezer until your child needs it. Allow him/her to chew it as a sanitary option to other things your child might stick in their mouth! There are a bunch of great age-appropriate approved teething toys – find one you think your toddler would be drawn to. Another option is to use a washcloth wet with cool water – this worked great in our house!
3. Offer Cool Foods
Toddlers can chew a variety of foods, unlike infants. Use this skill to your advantage. Choose developmentally-appropriate cool foods that your toddler/child is already safely eating. The pressure and coolness will work together to soothe your toddler’s gums. Another toddler favorite is chilled apples. If your child refuses to chew because of teething pain, offer him/her soft, cold food, such as yogurt or chilled applesauce. Often toddler teething pain causes their appetite to decrease.
4. Over-the-Counter Medication
Teething can be one of these times when we need to speak to a trusted pharmacist or your family physician regarding whether over-the-counter medications may be appropriate for your child. If your medical professional agrees that medications are a good fit for your little one they can greatly reduce the pain they feel while teething.
5. Stick to Your Schedule
When your child is teething try resisting the temptation to throw your schedule out the window. Toddlers need consistency – especially when they don’t feel well. To keep them on track, you should attempt to stay on schedule, it will be beneficial for the whole family. Keep regular wake, nap, and bedtimes as much as possible. Your toddler might be extra tired when they are teething, so keep that in mind if they’re showing signs they could be needing more rest.
6. Prepare Easy to Eat Meals
When your toddler is teething, s/he might not want to use their teeth while they eat. Consider making smoothies with yogurt and frozen fruits. You can change the flavor by adding her favorite fruits. You can also add spinach or kale to increase nutritional value. Another fun, and sweet, option is mashed bananas. Many older toddlers also enjoy soups or stews with easy to mash vegetables and noodles. Some toddlers, especially ones who have not been eating adult food for long, might enjoy switching to more pureed foods during this tricky time.
7. Look for Other Symptoms
Many times parents explain a variety of symptoms away as toddler teething. However, doing so can keep you from discovering the actual cause of your child’s discomfort. Notice the symptoms your child displays. Teething usually causes local symptoms, such as swelling of the gums, and pain. Typically teething will not cause systematic symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting. These symptoms could be signs that maybe something else is going on. Children with symptoms affecting their whole bodies or that last longer than a few days need to see their pediatrician. When in doubt – use your parenting instinct – and put in a call to your family doctor.
8. Keep Face Dry
With teething comes excessive drooling due to the child not closing their mouth, chewing on things, and not swallowing. Keep a soft, dry cloth close to your child, so you can quickly and easily wipe the drool from her face. Doing so will keep the saliva from irritating the skin around her mouth and causing more pain. Chapped skin can be very painful and might increase problems associated with teething. You may also apply a moisturizer to her chin and area between her nose and upper lip to create a barrier between the saliva and skin.
9. Consult with a Pediatrician
Your pediatrician is an excellent source of information on all aspects of your child’s health, including teething. You should consult him/her on all of the questions concerning your toddler/child – make use of all of your available resources. A pediatrician may be able to offer additional remedies and can advise you on the proper dosages for medications (where appropriate). They will be the first to know about new recommendations and medicines. For example, in recent years there has been much debate around the safety of topical numbing gels – our best advice is to speak to your family doctor about any topical treatments you may be considering using (whether labeled ‘natural’ or not) as your doctor is the best fit for providing that advice based on current research.
10. Become a Master in the Art of Distraction
One of the best tools a parent has is the art of distraction. Pull out all the stops to try and take your toddler’s mind off of his pain by playing a game or heading out for a walk and enjoying some time outside. Your time and attention will go far in making them more comfortable. Anything out of the ordinary will temporarily cause them to forget their pain – it’s not a magic wand – but it’s sure to help the long teething days and nights! Remember that their attention spans are very short, so have plenty of playtime options ready to go!
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