Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Creative Parenting
Are you looking for tips on how to deal with teething pain? A teething baby can make you feel as helpless as a turtle flipped on its back, unable to do anything to help.
When your little one’s baby teething pain flares up:
They cry. They scream. They rub their ears. They wake up at all hours of the night! This can go on for the entire baby year.
The good news is, When you’re dealing with baby teething pain, it’s not going to be tough every single minute.
Some days they’ll scream screams that’ll leave you shaking. On other days?
They’ll be all smiles.
But knowing that teething will be a long haul instead of a short trip might give you hope that you won’t be dealing baby teething pain forever.
In this post, we share our favorite tips that helped us manage our baby’s teething pain.
Now, there’s no miracle solution.
You don’t wave a magic wand and make it disappear.
But these tips can help you manage your baby’s teething pain with less stress for everyone.
Sound good? Ready to get a handle on the baby teething pain?
Let’s dive in.
6 Tips For Baby Teething Pain Relief
The first thing is…
It’s Not Going Away Overnight
Imagine sitting through a 5-hour movie, and 20 minutes into it you have to pee.
Only, you’re not allowed to go to the bathroom.
You have to sit there.
You squirm. Your body tenses up. Your mind can’t focus on the movie. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
That’s what it feels like to with a teething baby in the house…
While they suffer, nothing you do seems to fix the problem.
Figuring out how to deal with baby teething pain is like figuring out when to step away to pee during the movie. There’s a ton of approaches, so you’ve got to find what works best for your baby.
One way to do this is with distraction.
If they get fussy, get their mind off of it!
Using distraction effectively is what we talk about next.
How To Keep ‘Em Distracted
You know that feeling when you put a social media post explodes with tons of likes and comments?
You feel a surge of excitement and adrenaline.
It’s distracting from whatever you are trying to get done that day.
You might find yourself being sucked back into Facebook to check your likes every few minutes. (And that can keep you from staying focused on whatever you’re trying to do).
It’s a reminder that:
Distraction is a POWERFUL force.
And in our experience?
Equally powerful with the little ones as it is with adults using social media.
You can use distraction when you’re trying to help your kid be more comfortable when they’ve got teething pain.
Now, we’re not saying that you should distract your baby with social media.
Helping your baby get her mind off the teething pain can give you moments of peace.
There’s a variety of ways you can do this.
It’ll depend on the time of the day and the mood your baby is in.
Keep reading and we’ll talk more about different strategies to redirect your kid’s attention.
But first, let’s talk about our favorite daytime strategy.
You’ve Gotta Try This During Dinnertime
Lately, our youngest LOVES to throw her toys overboard at dinner.
At first, we didn’t know why.
Eventually, we realized her fussiness was partly due to baby teething pain.
And that would lead her to grab whatever was in front of her…and toss it on the floor.
Sound familiar? You know how this story ends:
A crying kiddo. Warm food getting cold. And suddenly you can’t eat your dinner. There’s a couple of ways you can deal with this.
One is you could skip trying to have her sit with you at all…
Instead, you could put her in a play pin or her crib.
That’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t help create a routine, much less allow you enough time to eat. Plus, she might still throw a fit.
Or, you could try letting her chew on her bib…
But you might be worried that it’s too much for her to have her mouth. (Choking hazard, anyone?)
Another option? (This is our favorite):
Keeping a TON of teething toys in a pile at the ready.
Keep like 7 or 8 at the table next to your plate.
Then, when she throws the one you gave her on the floor? You calmly grab the next one from the pile.
Do this over and over again and it’ll buy you 10, 15, maybe even 20 minutes. That might be enough time for you to eat your dinner.
If it isn’t, then you might need to try the next tip.
This Might Work If She’s Antsy
You’re sitting at the dinner table and one of two things is about to happen:
Your baby is going to coo and want your attention.
Or, she’ll make herself cry.
She wants to be occupied. She isn’t going to just sit still. In normal times she might sit there for a while. But when she’s antsy? All bets are off.
So the question becomes:
How can you buy a few minutes (we’re talking like 15) to eat your dinner?
With an attention span that’s famously short, it’s a constant challenge to keep her occupied.
After months of trying different approaches, we found a simple product that helps.
A simple toy egg with a plastic chain and clip to attach to her high chair worked wonders.
We got tired of picking her chewable toys up off the floor and this little clip provided to be the perfect solution to that problem.
Get some toys that either tie-down or can be clipped to her high chair straps.
That way if she throws them overboard they’ll just hang within reach, rather than getting dirty on the floor.
Once you’ve got some strategies like this to get through dinner, you can tackle managing teething pain at night…
Dealing With Teething Pain At Bedtime
With our eldest child, the baby year was a blur of sleep deprivation.
While some of our peer new parents were sleeping peacefully…
We were up all hours of the night. Sometimes sitting awake for hours holding our baby so he could sleep.
Why? A simple, but unfortunate, reality:
You see, our son was like a walking ear infection factory.
As soon as we got done with one…
He’d get another one.
It was a constant battle that went on for MONTHS. And he ended up taking what felt like a ton of antibiotics.
We were in and out of doctors’ offices for a year.
And while we would eventually get them under control (until the next one came), our sleep suffered.
When he was all juicy and clogged up…
He struggled to sleep on his back.
His congestion and nasal drainage would wake him up.
This led to endless rounds of us getting up and down, or even holding him and rocking him for hours.
After a few weeks of this constant struggle we realized:
It wasn’t sustainable.
And we caved eventually to a controversial strategy.
In fact, the AAP does not recommend this strategy.
Even with our second child, we avoided it for a long time.
But looking at the available research, we found some interesting observations:
“Many of the SIDS infants had coslept in a hazardous environment.” So, what’s a hazardous environment?
So, it seems there are mixed messages with the recommendations!
At some point, you’re only human.
You might get desperate.
And it might be the temporary solution to tide you over until sleep training like it did for us.
That isn’t to say, as AAP notes, it doesn’t still carry some risk.
Everything in life is risky to a degree…
But at a certain point, if you aren’t getting ANY sleep, driving to work so sleep deprived is also super dangerous.
So you have to weigh the trade-offs and risks, unique to your situation.
And if you’re desperate, co-sleeping might be just what’s needed.
3 Unconventional Napping Hacks
Looking for ways to make napping easier? In this section, we’re going to talk about a few napping “hacks” we use.
The common thread here is making napping both comfortable and focused.
That way, your kiddo will be overtaken by their drowsiness…
So much so that your baby will nod off into peaceful bliss.
First, keep a camera close by.
We use and love a camera created by a company called Wyze. We keep it on a table at an angle so we can see our baby’s face when she’s napping.
That way we can get a sense quickly if she’s asleep, falling asleep, or looks like she has a poop or something.
Next, synch or your camera with Alexa (or another smart home device). We keep an Alexa show in the kitchen. We love the ability to visually check on the baby simply by asking Alexa to show us.
From there, create an environment of auditory bliss.
You can do this not only with a wave noise machine, which is very popular but also by adding in a layer of music.
Not sure exactly how it works, but it works like magic. The combination of soothing piano music playing gently in the background as the waves crash against the short helps our baby drift to sleep faster.
If you don’t have a wave machine and an Alexa or other smart device to use for this, you can use your phone or an old tablet and play one of the many videos on YouTube with HOURS of listening pleasure.
The pleasant sounds will be a welcome distraction from the teething pain.
Which OTC Medicine Should You Choose?
Have you ever spent the late hours of the evening listening to a crying baby and wondering if it’s teething pain?
And whether you should give them some medicine?
Or consider this scenario:
You’ve been experimenting all night with different solutions trying to get an upset baby to stop crying…
Yet after months of experimentation you’re finally able to know which medicine to use…
How do you get there?
That’s the question before us.
Whether you like it or not, there’s one simple answer for how to decide whether to go with Tylenol or ibuprofen for teething pain.
And surprisingly, it’s not going to be what your doctor recommends.
Rather, it’s going to be a simple approach that’s as old as parenting itself.
Were’ talking about simple trial and error.
In our case, it took a while. But we eventually noticed that our baby girl responded MUCH better to Tylenol.
That was a game-changer.
So from that day on, we knew that Tylenol was the medication she needed.
Now sure, that created new problems…
But having that clarity gave us a streamlined approach when her teething pain was bad.
There was no longer any back and forth discussion on whether or not to use ibuprofen.
Because we’d tested both we knew which to use.
So give that approach a shot.
Try both, and pick the one that works best for your baby.
At the end of the day, you’ve gotta do your testing with your baby.
Figure out what works for their body. The sooner you do that, the faster you’ll be able to work on the next tip.
What to Do About Routines When Your Baby is Teething
Imagine a beautiful fall day and you decide to go for a walk with your family.
Only, it takes an hour to get out the door…
And as soon as you do, your baby has a meltdown (because her teeth hurt).
Crap, there goes the day! You think to yourself.
Whether you’re trying to go for a walk or get through your day, your routines WILL be thrown off at some point.
When you have a teething baby, it’s important to live by the following mantra:
Like we’ve said, the teething process is a roller coaster.
Some days are going to be a breeze. Some days will be tough.
Instead of getting all up in arms when things go awry…
Shift your routines from what you DO to your PROCESSES.
That way, you’ll be able to go with the flow better.
By re-focusing on a process approach instead of tie-ing yourself to a particular outcome, you’ll position yourself to adapt faster…
and with less stress.
Because when you’re dealing with a young, teething baby, anything to lessen the stress will be a boost to your morale.
If you’ve spent any time around a teething baby you’ll quickly realize a common trend.
You’ll hear wailing that’s altogether different than a normal baby cry…
We’re talking about the teething cry that’ll test your patience on an entirely new level.
Because here’s the thing…
Teething pain crying is different.
It’s prolonged. And more like a roller coaster than one big wave.
It ebbs and flows, and unless you want to overdo it with the OTC medicine (we DON’T recommend this), it’ll stay with you in one form or another.
With other types of crying, you can usually resolve it once you figure out what’s bothering your baby:
Feed her a bottle and the chances are, the crying will pause.
And so on.
But with teething pain…
You’re going to be listening to a lot of crying. More so than usual. In a way, you almost have to make your peace with it.
It’s going to be a part of your reality for the time being. If you can make your peace with it so you respond but don’t take it personally, and don’t let it get under your skin…
You’ll be in a better mental headspace for the long duration of teething.
You’re not going to be able to eliminate all the crying, but there is a strategy you can use to buy some time and interrupt the crying when things get dire.
That’s what we talk about next.
Your morning routine probably has a familiar feel.
You wake up at the crack of dawn. Get everybody fed and ready for you to work. Then you head off to work or your space at home if you’re doing that these days.
At some point, you’re scrambling to get you and your kids out the door and remember everything you need to bring.
At some point it’ll happen: You’ll be out running errands, having finally gotten everybody out the door, only to realize you forgot something important!
If it’s the pacifier, then you’re outta luck!
But you know what?
You’ve still got some options.
You could use the ole “pacifier” that’s always with us: Your finger.
Note: this is not a long-term solution for your outing. Chances are, you’ll be able to buy only maybe 30 mins max with strategy…
…but that might be enough to get back home to the pacifier.
If you use your finger and still need more time?
Here’s a strategy to consider (although it does require some advance work):
On your next trip to Tarjay…
Load up on a ton of extra chew toys.
Keep a bunch of them in your car, ready to grab at a moment’s notice.
That way, you’ll always have something on hand, and you’ll never worry that you’ve forgotten it!
Keep a pile of them in the vehicle next to your baby’s car seat. That way, when they need one they’ll be right there for your to hand to them.
You don’t want to get stuck in a cycle of despair when dealing with teething pain. Since it never seems to end, it can be quite frustrating.
Feeling stuck and frustrated can lead to negative spillover effects in other areas of your life, so it’s wise to recognize when that’s happening so you can keep your emotions in check.
Because dealing with your child’s teething pain can often feel like being stuck on a roller coaster going around and around, with infinite ups and downs.
Do you remember what it felt like when you anticipated first riding a roller coaster?
You probably had some anxiety and feelings of dread.
But later, after you’d overcome your fear and ride the roller coaster, what did you feel?
Excitement? A thrill? A sense of relief.
You’ll have a similar emotional journey with your baby’s teething pain.
When going through the tough stretches, take a deep breath, and remember that it won’t last forever.
Cause you’re gonna need to hold on for the roller coaster ride.
When you’re having a rough spell, try some of these strategies that worked well for us:
Try Different Bottle Temperatures
Teething pain can mean your baby is more sensitive to temperatures than she otherwise might be. Try mixing up your routine. If you usually make it warm, try a bit cooler and vice versa.
Maximize Waves and Music
Teething pain can make it hard for your baby to fall asleep! One thing that helped us in maximizing the sound distraction at nap time. We do this by playing both a wave machine AND relaxing piano music on Alexa. This combo seems somehow to soothe her enough to fall asleep.
Try A Chew Cracker
As with sound, with teething pain distraction is often key. At mealtime, offer one of those (age-appropriate) chew crackers. We found that letting her nosh on something while eating helps her be distracted, and feel like a member of the family eating dinner!
Dealing with teething pain is exhausting! One day your baby is crying and squirming…
And a few days later your baby might seem fine and all smiley. It’s a roller coaster for sure. Only time will help their pain go away.
Until then you’ll have to do your best to manage your frustration, mitigate their pain, and try to make them comfortable.
In our experience, these tips will do just that. As always, thanks for reading!
And let us know:
Do you have any tips for dealing with teething pain that we don’t talk about here?