My absolute worst memory of motherhood thus far was when my oldest son was a baby and my husband was the best man in his friend's wedding. Our son was probably 5 months old and was experiencing his first bout of teething. We were at the dress rehearsal and I was hiding in the caverns of this theater doing everything I could to soothe him. This mostly involved me trying to shove a boob in his face that he was not too keen on at that time. He was a really finicky little man and not easy to console. The crying continued well on into the evening when the mother of the groom finally took him from me and insisted that I eat. Her and her daughter carried him around rocking him and rubbing a finger between his eyes like Elsa and Anna's momma did on Frozen 2. He finally slept! It was the longest day of my life.
One of the most worrisome things a momma ever has to deal with is a cranky baby. Running a daycare and having three kids myself, I have had my fair share of experiences with teething babies by now. My own three all had horrible teething pain. It can leave you feeling pretty helpless and suck the life out of you when nothing you do will soothe your baby's screams. It's enough to make you want to lock yourself in the bathroom with a bottle of wine and never come back out. Unfortunately, there's rarely enough opportunity for this as a parent of an infant, especially while breastfeeding. The point is, allow yourself a break from time to time. Take advantage when dad is home or a friend or family member offers to help. Lock yourself in the bathroom and take a bath, go to a friend's house, take a walk, have a meal. Just get away. Mom's have a hard time accepting help when it's offered or asking for it when it is desperately needed. Don't be afraid to ask and accept! And don't feel guilty. Mom breaks help you reset so you can be a better momma going forward. It is so important.
That brings me to the fussy baby. What to do? What to do? I don't claim to be an expert, but I have found a few tricks that have worked for us over the years. The first signs of teething are usually massive drooling and baby chewing everything in sight. It's a good idea to have a few teethers on hand for such occasions. I have found the (SnoofyBee) Chewy Buckle to be really handy. Because, you can use them to secure a blanket while nursing or a washcloth as a bib (hello drooly little guy), you'll always have one nearby. You can also pop them in the freezer for a bit to help soothe those painful gums. Mealtime can also be a huge struggle when there is a teething baby in the house. It's hard to eat when your mouth hurts. Be creative and offer frozen foods that will feel good for the baby to num on. It's literally all about the freezer! Frozen blueberries, peas, and toaster waffles (yup, straight out of the freezer) are great mouth soothing snacks. I haven't met a baby yet that doesn't love frozen blueberries. They work pretty great for constipation too. You can also give them a clean wet washcloth to chew on, put it in the freezer! Frozen breast milk popsicles are fantastic too! You can easily use an ice cube tray to freeze little ice milk cubes to suck on. One of those mesh feeders would work great to pop a cube in and let your baby chew away. If your little one won't eat, don't stress. Just focus on keeping them hydrated, that is really the most important thing. If your baby is in a lot of pain and nothing seems to be working, don't be afraid to give them some Tylenol. Not only will it help reduce pain, but it tends to make them a little sleepy. I'm not sure if this is the medicine or just the fact that they are exhausted and finally getting some relief. Either way, I'll take it. If all else fails, just let them nurse if they are up for it. Sometimes mom really is the only one that can make them feel better.
While we are talking about teething, I have to point out a big pet peeve I have. (Stepping on my soapbox momentarily). Teething does not equal fever! I can not tell you how many times daycare parents have tried to bring feverish babies to me claiming that they were merely teething. Don't do it. If they have a fever of 100 or more, they are sick. They need to stay home. You may want to call your doctor at that point. I literally got the death glare from a mom once for calling her out on this. A baby with a temperature of 103 may be teething, but they are also sick and need to be tended to as such.
I have learned a lot since the day my first little guy started teething. Thank goodness! Firstborns, unfortunately, are like little tiny science experiments. Parenting only gets better from experience. Hopefully these tips will help you so that your first teething journey will be a little less rocky than mine was.
- April 27, 2021
- Mike Perry