Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Trials and Tribulations of Teething

It frequent plagues me how much children have to deal with in the first few years of their lives. I mean, really. From the trauma of passing through the birth canal through learning how to crawl, eat, walk and talk it seems that their rites of passage will never end, especially to an already sleep (and sanity) deprived parent. Take children's teeth for e.g. Kinda an "on-again, off-again" type of scenario, dontcha think? Cutting the teeth, losing them then growing them back again?? Ai yai yai!!

On a more serious note, teething is one of the biggies, a leading source of miserable days for babies and parents alike. Unlike other ailments, you can't really 'fix' teething - it is the inevitable and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. What you can do is make your wee one more comfortable so he/she (and you) can get through the teething period with all your hair intact.

~ Chomp on hard, cold things

Freeze some carrots and have your baby bite down on them. Both the pressure and the cold will help soothe. Some mothers also swear by frozen washcloths and teethers although I had better success with the carrots probably because they taste better :-) You can soak the washcloths in Chamomile tea before freezing for maximum punch.

~ Chamomile/Lavender/Clove Oil

Mix some chamomile and lavender oil into a carrier oil and massage along the jaw line and behind the ears. Chamomile and Lavender are both soothing and they will help relax an irritable child.

Cloves are a spice well known in the subcontinent as they are widely used in everyday cooking. They are antiseptic and a natural analgesic which makes them an ideal remedy for sore, inflamed gums. Be *extremely* careful with clove oil as it can burn if not diluted properly. Put only 1 drop in a large quantity of Almond (or other carrier) Oil and rub with your finger on the affected gum. You can buy a pre-mixed oil called Gum-omile which I've provided a link to on the "Where to Buy" page.

~ Homeopathy (Check out my links section for more info and to find a practitioner)

Homeopathy can be an invaluable tool especially since the right one yields quick and long lasting results. It is a little tricky to get the hang of because its premise is identifying the symptoms that correspond to a particular remedy but if you spend some time reading up on it, it is actually very useful to know. The most common homeopathic remedies for teething are:

Belladonna: children needing this remedy emanate heat and experience intense pain. Keynotes are restlessness/starting in sleep, red face and inflamed gums.

Calcarea Carbonica: use in cases where a baby is slow to cut teeth i.e. delayed teething and is sad/anxious   in the process. Keynotes are night sweats (on the head) and delayed milestones in general.

Coffea Cruda: use when your baby is wide excitable and finding it hard to sleep while teething. Keynotes are the insomnia and also better with cold application to the gums.

Chamomilla: this remedy is best suited to a child who is irritable and in fact angry due to the intolerable pain. Keynotes are one red cheek and the other pale, better when carried and in some cases green-ish stools/diarrhoea. 

Pulsatilla: a baby that is tearful and needs constant comforting may need this remedy. Keynotes are better when in the open air and with the cold and also clinginess.

Use the 6C potency of whichever remedy matches your child's emotional and/or physical state. You can administer the remedy in water by putting a pellet or two in a bottle of water and then giving a teaspoon up to 3 x a day for one day only, shaking the bottle before each dose. If it hasn't helped by then (i.e. you don't see a marked difference), stop and select another remedy. For optimum health, it's worth getting in touch with a professional homeopath to address general health issues. Mine has helped me through many a hurdle through the last few years and I don't know where I'd be without her.

~ The human touch

Babies are no different from adults in that they need to know everything is going to be okay! Give your baby lots of hugs and let him/her know there's nothing to fret about. Massage helps (use olive oil) as does reflexology. Try applying pressure to the toes for relief around the ears and sinuses. An excellent article on the tooth-body relationship can be found here and you can either massage the equivalent spots on the feet or apply Reiki to them.

~ Chill out!

'Tis hard work looking after a teething child so kick back your feet and relax! Sip Chamomile tea yourself during the day, meditate, listen to music and take a soothing bath! You'll be much better equipped to deal with an irritable baby if you do! If you aren't able to find the time to do the above (trust me, I know hard it is to spare a second with a baby!) try taking some Rescue Remedy to soothe your nerves.

Enjoy that first tooth when it does finally come out; it makes for a perfect picture!



  1. Great post! Thanks for commenting on my blog! :)

    We've had great success with using a baltic amber teething necklace with this baby. Just the amber on his skin (they don't chew on them) is soothing and anti-inflammatory. My boy wears one pretty much all the time, and I add a second one when he gets cranky and can't sleep well during naps, which is how I know that he's working on his molars. After I add the second necklace, he sleeps peacefully again. I haven't had to give him anything else!

    Another thing that works great is cold celery. I found that it was a perfect teething food, because the strings hold it together so that they don't get big clumps of food off, and my babies have loved to gnaw on that when teething. I keep celery sticks, submerged in water, in the fridge when they start teething. Celery is also mildly anesthetizing, and gives them a taste of real food. :)

  2. Thanks Gwen! I look forward to exchanging ideas with you in the future :-)