In the course of your career as a nanny, you’ll probably need to help a baby through the often painful process of teething. Here are some common signs of teething discomfort:
- Change in food preferences. Some babies may start resisting solid foods, while others will prefer them for the counterpressure they provide to the pressure in their gums.
- Drooling. Constant drooling can even cause a rash to appear on the face.
- Ear pain. Teething can cause pain in the ear canal, so look out for ear pulling. Of course, this could also signal an ear infection.
- Fussiness. Tooth eruption is worse at night, so be aware of when the baby seems crankiest.
- Gnawing. Babies will chew on toys, fingers and pretty much anything they can find.
- Swollen gums. Look for redness and puffiness.
According to Parenting, “[t]eething pain is like headache pain—it causes chronic, low-grade discomfort.” Try these five tips for pain relief:
- Cold washcloth. Let the child chew on a frozen, damp washcloth.
- Distraction. Give the baby a new toy or soothe her with cuddling.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. Make sure they’re recommended for the child’s age, don’t administer too high of a dose and never give aspirin to a young child.
- Massaging gums. WebMD suggests using your finger to gently massage the gums for about two minutes.
- Teething rings. You can give these to the baby, or even use a cold one for gum massage.
Of course, there are also some remedies you should not try. Hard foods like zwieback can present a choking hazard. Rubbing brandy on the gums is incredibly dangerous, as “[e]ven tiny amounts of alcohol can be poisonous to a baby.” There’s also been some controversy over teething gels, so don’t use this method without first consulting your doctor.
Make sure to visit your pediatrician regularly, and contact the doctor in the case of severe or long-lasting teething symptoms.