Baby Teething Debate

smiling babyAccording to the Bonjela Teething Troubles Report*, seven out of ten mums (66%) rate teething as the number one cause of distress in their child, outranking other potentially painful childhood experiences such as immunisation (34 per cent).

Although the findings also showed that nine in ten mothers are confident they can spot the signs of teething in a baby, 84% reported a number of symptoms that are unlikely to be caused by the teething process.

Leanne Daggar, Acting Director of Nursing from Tresillian Family Centres, Australia's largest Child and Family health organisation, warns that not all the commonly reported symptoms of teething are in fact true symptoms of teething. "A high temperature, diarrhoea or a cough or runny nose in a baby should never be put down to teething. These symptoms are more likely to be signs of other issues such as a bacterial or viral infection. If a baby is experiencing these symptoms, medical advice should be sought," she added.

Half of all Australian mums with children aged two and under report diarrhoea as a symptom of teething in their child and 46 per cent sighted a high temperature or fever as a sign of teething in their child. This suggests a high level of confusion in the community and the need for more education on the issue.

Some symptoms to look for in your teething baby, from Tresillian:

Irritable behaviour
Sleeping problems
Pulling ears
Rough red cheeks or bottom
Low grade fever
Chewing or rubbing gums

If your baby is teething Tresillian recommends trying:

Cuddle Therapy: A little extra tender loving care goes a long way when your baby is having a hard time teething.

Rubbing Their Gums: Lightly massaging your baby's gum with a clean finger, this can be soothing and help alleviate some of their discomfort.

Teething Rings: Teething babies love to chew and bite - on anything! Many mums find that sterilised teething rings can be useful and they can actually help the teeth to cut through.

Food for Chewing: If your baby is over six months old, try offering them a sugar-free teething biscuit or unsweetened rusk. Alternatively, some like to gnaw on chilled bread slices or carrot sticks. Whatever you choose to give your baby make sure they are supervised and that they cannot bite chunks off, which could cause your baby to choke. It is also preferable to avoid foods that are too hard as these could bruise the gums and cause further pain.

Teething Gels: Teething gels massaged into the gums with a clean finger can provide relief. Look for ones that are sugar-free and colour-free and make sure you check the dosage instructions and expiry date. (Always read the label).

Soothing Sore Chins: Excessive dribbling caused by teething can irritate babies' chin, neck and chest which may become dry, chapped and sore. Try to keep their skin as dry as possible (a bib will help) and change any wet clothing. Applying a simple barrier cream can also help keep their skin soft and smooth and may ease any chapped skin.

For further assistance with teething troubles and to find your nearest Tresillian Family Care Centre visit:

*The Teething Troubles Report was commissioned by Bonjela Teething Gel in conjunction with Tresillian Family Care Centres and conducted online by Galaxy Research among 1002 Australian mothers with children aged between 0 and 24 months, in July 2010.