Between the age of about 3-8 months, babies begin teething. Teeth continue to slowly come in until about the age of 2 or 3 and it is a challenging time for both baby and mom. The process of growing teeth can be very uncomfortable for the baby, causing a lot of upset, pain, and irritability. Baby initially probably wonders what is happening and mom may be grinding her own teeth just thinking of how it must feel for her poor baby when teeth are breaking through the sensitive gums.
Supporting baby and mama through this time is important. While this is a natural process that all babies bravely go through, there are many tools and tricks which you can use to help ease the pain for baby and promote relaxation wherever possible.
Sleeplessness, decreased appetite, excessive drooling, biting, rubbing chin/cheeks and fussiness, putting hands/fingers into the mouth
Natural Tools to Relieve Pain and Soreness
Nursing or Bottle Feeding
Babies will look for more closeness to mom during these days. They want to be held a lot and also nurse more frequently. If you can, let them nurse whenever they ask for it or provide the milk yourself when you feel they are going through a rough patch. It gives baby and mom a nice little break. If you are bottle feeding, baby feels the extra love and comfort as well, especially when lying in mom’s arms.
Try: cool applesauce, frozen fruits, crushed ice
Foods that lower inflammation
Try: No flour, potatoes or refined sugar. Include foods like fruits & vegetables, coconut, avocado and eggs.
Try: Soft silicone or wooden toys; choose the toys made of safe silicone, avoid plastic & latex
Teething necklace – worn by mother
Try: A teething necklace which the baby can chew on when being held in mom’s arms.
Amber necklace or bracelet – many mothers have had success with amber necklaces for teething. The premise is that succinic acid is released from the amber when heated against the baby’s skin, providing pain relief for the baby.
Try: An amber necklace or bracelet to be worn by baby. You can tie them around their feet when they are older so they can’t take them off as easily.
Try: Soaking a washcloth in water or chamomile tea, place in the freezer for 1-2 hours and then allow baby to chew on the cool cloth.
Relaxing baby massage
Try: Massaging baby to help them relax. Perhaps prepare a massage rub with coconut oil and some calming essential oils such as chamomile or lavender.
Chew licorice root
Try: giving baby a piece of licorice root to chew on. Ensure the piece is large enough so that there is no choking hazard and keep watch of the baby.
Chamomile – relaxing, soothing, and baby safe
Try: Freezing chamomile tea into ice cubes or soaking a washcloth in the tea and freezing it for baby to chew on.
Clove oil – (over age 2) – natural analgesic
Try: Rubbing a small amount of clove oil on baby’s gums for pain relief.
Note: Sometimes clove oil can burn if it is a strong tincture. Watch your baby’s reaction and dilute if necessary.
Rosehip – natural anti-inflammatory, contains good levels of vitamin C, antioxidant and boosts the immune system
Try: Brewing rosehip tea which can be frozen or cooled and given in bottle or sippy cup for baby to drink.
Rooibos - a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant; also helps digestion by reducing cramps, spasms, and diarrhea which some babies suffer from during teething.
Try: Brewing rooibos tea. For babies, 1 teaspoon of herb per 1 cup of water is plenty. Can be served hot or cold and tastes delicious.
Catnip – calming herb, promoting relaxation and may help the baby
Try: Brewing a catnip tea. For babies, 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of water is plenty.
Ginger – anti-inflammatory herb
Try: Rubbing a small piece of fresh ginger into baby’s gums. Mom may also enjoy some lemon ginger tea to soothe inflammation and promote relaxation.
Lemon Balm - soothing, calming and anti-bacterial
Try: Brewing a lemon balm tea. For babies, 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of water is plenty.
Note: All supportive herbs can also be made into teas. If your baby is breastfed and doesn’t take the bottle easily, make a combination tea for yourself. Your baby will get the herbs through your breastmilk and as a bonus, you'll receive the benefits of the herbs as well. For example, combine 1 tsp of chamomile, lemon balm, catnip and rosehip per 2 cups of water.
Herbs can also be used to dampen wash clothes prior to freezing them. Alternatively, you can make a homemade herbal infusion. Take the herbs of your choosing, put into a quart size mason jar & cover with boiling water - steep 4-8 hours. Strain the infusion and store in a glass container in the fridge. Dab infusion with a washcloth onto the babies gums. VOILA!
Homeopathics for Baby
Camilia Teething by Boiron - Contains the herbs chamomile, pokeweed, and Chinese rhubarb in small homeopathic doses. Helps soothe inflammation and calms baby’s nerves.
Rescue Remedy for Kids by Bach - A helpful remedy to have in your home. Instantly calms an upset baby and an exhausted mommy. Comes in tincture form for kids and in tincture and gummy form for adults. 2 drops for baby and 4 drops for mom.
Note: It is advisable to use it as an occasional “rescue” remedy and not as a daily helper. While it helps you fall asleep easily at night, be careful not to take it every night as it can be slightly habit-forming in some people. Some women also become extra sensitive - for example, teary-eyed or aggravated - from taking them regularly during the day. As it is homeopathic, everyone reacts differently so just pay close attention to yourself and dose accordingly.
Supplements for Baby
Baby Vitamin D – important for the formation of bones and teeth, immune system support, some babies, particularly those with less sun exposure, can benefit from vitamin D supplementation
Try: Baby D drops, follow product indications. 400 IU daily is the generally recommended dosage for babies.
Baby Probiotics – can help with colic and eczema and support a healthy immune system as your baby grows.
Try: baby probiotic drops, follow indications on the product.
Baby Calcium and Magnesium Supplement – supports the development of bones and teeth. Magnesium is also a natural sleep aid.
Try: A product which combines both and is designed for babies. Follow indications on the product.
Supplements for Mom
Multivitamin – to support your body and assist in keeping your immune system strong during this time
Try: a daily postnatal multivitamin
Calcium + Magnesium – to promote relaxation and calm
Try: A product such as Natural Calm during the day and before bed.
Folate - increases to 500 mcg per day during lactation. Mamas need to have enough folate in their breastmilk to support growing baby. If you aren’t getting enough supplementation, folate stores will deplete, causing milk to use everything and anything left over in our bodies to support the baby. This can cause “baby brain”. So be sure to get your folate in! (note: this is likely in your multi)
B-Vitamins - Essential for new mamas as they help produce RBC’s (red blood cells) and DNA, reduce bad cholesterol, increase energy and turn food into fuel.
Try: B vitamins are best taken all together to achieve the proper ratio. Try a B-Complex to get your B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. (note: these are likely in your multi)
As a mother, you know what is best for your baby. Providing them with loving comfort during this time is the most supportive thing you can do. Observe your baby and give them what they need as much as you can, be it more milk, food or cuddle time. A calmer mind helps baby handle the pain much better.
Take time to relax and de-stress when possible.
Try: A quick meditation when the baby is sleeping or move through some gentle yoga poses.
If the baby isn’t sleeping much throughout the night and falls asleep during the day, take this time to get some much-needed shut-eye.
Get outside a couple times per day, for a short walk or even just for a few breaths of fresh air.
Maintain a healthy diet to promote healing and recovery.
Don’t be afraid to call your mama, friends or siblings when you need support.