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Teething Troubles: 10 Reasons The Struggle Is Real (And 10 Ways Mom Can Survive It)

When that first baby tooth cuts through, a rush of emotions rolls through a new mama. She may be excited because it’s a new milestone her baby has met. She also may be sad because it means her little one is growing up.

However, many new parents often feel worried because they know some chaos comes with the teething phase.

Baby Center says, “Teeth actually start developing while your baby is in the womb and tooth buds form in the gums. Teeth break through over a period of months, and they often appear in this order: the bottom two middle teeth first, then the top two middle ones, then those along the sides and back.” Some symptoms of teething Baby Center discusses include irritability, fussiness, drooling, sensitive gums, and trouble sleeping – and parents fully understand the chaos that comes with these symptoms.

Since every baby is different, every baby’s teething experience will be unique as well. While some babies have extreme difficulty handling the discomfort that comes with teething, other babies may handle the pain well. Along with every baby being unique, every parent will have their own unique approach to handling this phase. One technique may work for one parenting style while another may not.

This is why it can be incredibly helpful to get insight from real mamas who have been (or are going) through the teething phase. Relating to struggles other moms have faced and trying out methods that worked for them allows new moms to not feel alone on the teething adventure.

20 The Struggle: Making Naptime Happen

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Even if you have a great routine down with your little one, the discomfort that comes with teething can change that routine in an instant. If your baby is in pain, they may wake up from their slumber crying and rolling around and wiping their face. Their mindset may also be so scattered that when being rocked to sleep or put down to nap, they may immediately react differently.

Teething can bring out a totally different personality in a baby. The baby who was once content and happy most of the time may become a total monster when naptime arrives. Finding a technique that helps this process can be tough and, sometimes, just patience and time is the ultimate answer.

19 Survival Tip: “Baltic Amber And Frozen Washcloths”

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“Baltic amber 100,000 times over. And frozen washcloths,” says Mama of two, Renee Saraceni. Many parents truly believe that using Baltic amber necklaces or bracelets can help prevent discomfort and pain when it comes to teething. According to Baltic Essentials, Baltic amber has been known to prevent many of the teething symptoms as well as reflux and heartburn. It’s also important to make sure the teething jewelry is actual Baltic amber, not plastic.

Frozen washcloths can also be very helpful when it comes to soothing a fussy, teething baby. Since many parents already have washcloths in their home, using this method is a budget-friendly way to soothe swollen gums without purchasing expensive teethers.

18 The Struggle: Everything Becomes A Teether

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When your baby is teething, everything looks like it should be their next favorite teether. That hard, plastic block – teether. That corner of the rug – teether. The side of the crib – teether. Their sister’s shoulder – teether. Since feeling something on their gums is often a calming sensation, baby’s will try to put anything possible into their mouth. This can be a dangerous and difficult time for even the most meticulous parents. Even if you’ve scrubbed your floors clean and made sure to keep little objects out of reach, your child will probably still find something to put in their mouth.

17 Survival Tip: “Munch On Teething Crackers”

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When you have a grumpy, teething baby on your hands, you may give in to parts of parenting you may not have agreed with before. For instance, many parents don’t believe food should be seen as a way to calm or soothe a little one. Immediately turning to food as an answer can cause more problems down the line and sometimes lead to weight issues if it becomes a habit.

However, when teeth are cutting through and you are aware of these possibilities, teething crackers may be a terrific short-term solution.

“The hardest part for my husband and I was watching our drool-soaked, sobbing mess of a baby cry in our arms while we just tried to soothe her,” Mom, Alyssa Kurtzworth, says in regard to her teething one-year-old. “She would munch on teething crackers throughout the day. When she was inconsolable, and her gums were too sensitive to chew, we would feed her soft things like baby cereal or a pureed food.”

16 The Struggle: To Use Medicine Or Not

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“Deciding to give medicine is a struggle for us. We’ve never done it,” states Breanna Yung, Mom of one. It’s normal to feel skeptical when it comes to using baby Tylenol or Motrin – or any painkiller, for that matter. The uncertainty that comes with medication can leave new parents uneasy, even if their little one is screaming, crying, and fussing from teething discomfort.

Contacting a doctor is really the best bet when it comes to facing this dilemma. Never jump to conclusions you aren’t sure of when it comes to your baby’s health. If you are unsure about whether or not to use medicine, the type to be used, and the dosage – ask the medical specialists in your baby’s life.

15 Survival Tip: Find A Mix That Works For Your Style

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When a little one is teething, they will want to put everything in their mouth. This can range from their fingers and toes to Mom’s necklace and purse. If your baby is mobile, the items that can be added to this list is endless. Therefore, finding a mix of go-to teething remedies that work for your little one and your parenting style is important.

The remedies may be quite the odd mix, but if it works - it works.

"I found that frozen waffles and "Punkin Butt Teething Oil" were lifesavers," says Mama of one, Morgan Coggins. Between the use of natural remedies (such as oils and organic ointments) to something as unexpected as a frozen waffle, you truly never know what may work. But when you find what does - keep it going.

14 The Struggle: Continuous Whining

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New moms can have a hard time hearing their baby cry when they are in pain. They will often hug them and soothe them and rock them until that pain goes away – or at least until they fall asleep. Hearing those cries of discomfort can be some of the toughest sounds a person can hear, especially since they’re coming from their baby.

However, when those cries turn into whines that never, ever stop (all day long), the tune might change.

“The hardest part is the whining,” says Mom of one, Katherine Ballinger. This doesn’t mean a mom cares any less, it just means their patience may be starting to lessen – and if you’re a mama who hasn’t lost her patience, you may not be human. When Mom tries everything to help her little one feel better and she knows her baby is making noises and whining just to, well, whine – the frustration meter may rise.

13 Survival Tip: “Hyland Teething Tablets”

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Some parents stray away from teething tablets and gels while others rely heavily on them. Those who rely on these go-to pain relievers truly do believe they can make a tough teething situation an easier one. Even though there have been incidences in the past when tablets and gels have been looked down upon, it’s important to remember that not all babies are the same and everyone has a different approach.

Therefore, oral pain relievers may work for your little one, but not for another.

“Teething tablets by Hyland worked like a dream,” Michele Graham, Mom of two, states. “Instant relief for all of us.” When there is something that works well for the little one, it helps the parents as well. It gives the family a sense of peace, even for a minute, and it’s that peace that keeps a mama moving forward.

12 The Struggle: Baby May Get Fidgety And “Feverish”

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Since teeth cutting through gums and shifting around can cause so much discomfort for a baby, it also will cause a lot of changes to the body overall. The teething tot will definitely feel irritated, fidgety, and a little buggier than usual because of everything going on. Another possible symptom is a slight rise in the overall temperature of the baby. Even though this is a common symptom, it is something to pay close attention to.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “A slight rise in temperature was a common symptom [in a study conducted], but most often was not high enough to be considered a fever. The authors [of the study] said the finding was important because if a child develops a true fever, generally considered to be over 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), assuming that the cause is teething may lead doctors or parents to miss possible illness or infection that requires treatment.”

11 Survival Tip: “Baby Wearing And Giving Cold Bottles”

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Having something cold on a teething baby’s gums can be a huge help. The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding a method that works well for both Mom and her little one: frozen teethers, refrigerated soother silicone rings, frozen washcloths, silicone feeder with a frozen fruit inside. Cold bottles may be an option you never thought of before because, well, when it comes to teething you may immediately think “teether.”

“My survival method is Motrin, baby-wearing and giving cold bottles,” says Katherine Ballinger, Mom of one. Making a cold bottle and snuggling your little one close may be just what they need to relax and soothe those swollen gums.

10 The Struggle: “Feeling Helpless.”

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“The hardest part is feeling helpless,” says Rachel Golden, Mom of one. It can be extremely frustrating to listen to your little one scream and cry in agony and not be able to feel their pain or understand what could help them. A mom may try absolutely everything in the book and still end up with an uncomfortable, miserable baby. In most cases, this is the unfortunate case. Teething is one of those phases that must happen and, for the most part, can’t be helped. As a mom, you want to be able to fix everything that is hurting your baby. Unfortunately, teething is often one of those times when there isn’t a go-to remedy every single time.

And that truth can hurt a mom as much as those teeth are hurting their little one.

9 Survival Tip: Coffee. Lots Of Coffee.

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If you rely on coffee, the teething phase is probably when the most is consumed. Whether it be coffee or tea or an energy drink of some sort, caffeine is often the go-to remedy for Moms when absolutely nothing is working to help the pain go away for their baby. Actually, caffeine is often to the go-to remedy for everything motherhood related.

Of course, not everyone relies on coffee or tea or caffeine to help them get through the day. However, for those who do depend on the pick-me-up, they probably have a mug in their hand at all times or a lukewarm pot sitting on the counter calling their name. If coffee works for you and helps calm those frazzled, frustrated “Mom-Nerves” – use it.

8 The Struggle: Figuring Out What Baby’s Cries Mean

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Since babies in the teething phase usually can’t put full sentences together, they can have a difficult time getting across what is on their mind. Therefore, they often cry. Between the cries of pain coming from teething, cries of need or want, and cries just to, well cry, it can be tough deciphering what is what.

“Not knowing if she’s just learning to use her voice or if she’s in pain [is tough],” explains Mom of one, Breanna Yung. “Sometimes it’s obvious, but other times I truly can’t tell.” This can be just as tough for parents as it is for little ones. Not being able to fully understand what your baby is telling you can be so gosh-darn frustrating – and every parent understands this frustration.

7 Survival Tip: Massage The Gums

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When teethers and tablets don’t do the trick, applying pressure to your little one’s gums may help. “Massaging gums with wet washcloths or gauze – and even clean fingers – can help relieve discomfort,” dentist and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Shari Kohn, tells Everyday Family. “Wiping their gums fends off bacteria too, which can prevent inflammation later on.” This massage technique can be done in many ways, but it is always important to make sure your hands and fingernails are clean before ever touching the inside of your baby’s mouth. This is especially important during the time of teething when your baby is more prone to infection.

6 The Struggle: Slight Rash May Appear

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Since drooling is a symptom of teething, a rash may grow visible over time. This rash shouldn’t impact your baby too much, but should be watched as time progresses. Like any rash or skin irritation, if the severity increased, infection or pain could start to occur.

“Drool can sometimes contribute to a rash on the chest and neck, from macerated, wet skin [which is] sometimes called a teething rash,” Dr. Roy Benaroch, pediatrician and author, tells Care.com. If these rashes were to get more severe, Aquaphor or over-the-counter baby cream can be used. If it continues to worsen, reaching out to a medical professional is a suggested next step.

5 Survival Tip: “Baby Motrin And Snuggles”

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Even though medicine is a touchy subject for some parents, if your medical team discusses medication options with you and you feel comfortable going that route – go for it. Every parent has their own way of approaching tough situations, especially teething. Tylenol or infant Motrin can help your little one feel more comfortable and relieve the pain they’re experiencing.

Mom of one, Rachel Golden, suggests “Baby Motrin and snuggles” as a remedy for the terror that is teething. She finds this combination to be helpful when faced with the chaotic milestone. If you know the correct dose to use and your medical professional approves the medication, give it a try.

4 The Struggle: “Not Being Able To Take The Pain Away”

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Mom of three, Bree Hudson, says the hardest part of teething is “not being able to instantly take the pain away and make it all better.” Seeing your child in pain and not being able to do a thing about it is such a difficult, painful experience. Parents go through mental and emotional pain when their teething tot is faced with the physical side of this painful milestone.

You can try every remedy and suggestion in the book and take everyone’s advice, but remain helpless. Teething is tricky and, sometimes, you will just not know what to do. As a mom, this truth is incredibly painful because you want to have every answer on the tip of your tongue. However, when it comes to teething, it’s a game of continuous trial and error.

3 Survival Tip: “Find a Distraction”

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“Distraction. Keep little one busy, busy,” suggests Mom of one, Breanna Yung. When your baby is whining, crying, rubbing their eyes, and stuffing everything they can find in their mouth, distracting them from their discomfort may be key. It can be tough swaying a baby’s attention onto something else long enough for them to forget about their pain, but it is possible. Even a few minutes without fussiness or tears is a few minutes for a mama to breathe. By having extra books, rattles, and toys nearby at all times, your baby may be able to focus on the “new toy” long enough to push aside their frustration.

2 The Struggle: Drool, Drool, Drool

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Since those teeth are cutting through the gums and your baby is trying to put everything they can find in their mouth, saliva production is working overtime. “Drooling and blowing bubbles is common in babies during the phase of development when getting what they need is centered on the mouth,” says The American Academy of Pediatrics. “The increased flow of saliva that often signals the appearance of a new tooth seems to soothe tender gums.”

Drool and bubbles can, at times, be cute. However, more times than not, drool is just frustrating to parents. It gets all over toys, clothes, and soaks right through bibs – especially if they’re the super cute, decorative bibs that go perfectly with your baby’s outfit.

Drool has a mind of its own and doesn’t care about cute outfits – that’s for sure.

1 Survival Tip: Keep Baby Hydrated

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With teething comes drool and with drool comes saliva. Therefore, when your baby is teething, they actually need extra hydration because they are losing more saliva than usual. Everyday Family says, “Drooling and reduced appetites can keep babies from getting enough liquids. Offer lots of their favorite cold liquids.”

If that means cold formula or breastmilk – make it their new favorite liquid.

Teething is often a great time to start getting your little one more accustomed to a sippy cup and occasionally sipping water. They may feel the cold water on their gums and like the sensation, making the cup something they look forward to trying rather than pushing it away. Putting the nipple of the bottle in the fridge for a little bit can also make mealtime a little bit easier.

References: Statements from “real-life” moms who gave consent to use direct quotes (via Momhood Mayhem on Facebook and jenniferalinewrites on Instagram), Baby Center, Baltic Essentials, American Academy of Pediatrics, Shari Kohn/Everyday Family, Dr. Roy Benaroch (pediatrician and author)/Care.com

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