24th July 2019

Teething: frequently asked questions (especially at 4.13am)

Are amber beads total woo? Why does he suddenly have green poo? When will this hell end? And some more sensible ones…

How do I know if my baby is definitely teething?

It’s a tricky one. There’s always a chance that your baby is just a terrible person. But generally, if they’re between one minute and 78 years old, and exhibiting more than two or three of the following symptoms, they’re probably teething.

  • Waterfall of saliva pouring from their gobs (dribble bibs are a godsend and look pretty hipster)
  • Massive red cheeks that totally clash with their outfit
  • An unsightly runny nose (said dribble bibs double up as seriously grim snotty hankies)
  • Uniquely disgusting poo (yes, even worse than usual)
  • Disrupted sleep (as opposed to the 12 unbroken hours of blissed-out slumber we all normally get, right?)
  • Constant, seemingly irrational whinging (probably them AND you)
  • Shoving anything they can get their chubby little hands on into their mouths, including their chubby hands themselves
  • And yet, rejecting actual food. You know, the thing they’re supposed to put in their mouth.

But don’t be thinking all this means your baby’s going to get some cute little peggies soon. That would be too easy. This nonsense takes months. Plenty of babies enjoy putting inanimate objects into their mouths (phone chargers, takeaway fliers, the cat), appear to have visible tooth buds or at least sharper gums than before from when they’re very wee and start sporadically acting like prize arseholes from, ooh, birth, but don’t get any actual teeth for MONTHS. Then they’ll probably go and cut four in a fortnight. Fun times. They do look cute though.

What are these amber bead thingies?

Noticed that a lot of one year olds look like they’ve just got back from a gap year backpacking around South East Asia? Well, those beaded necklaces you see so many red-faced little terrors wearing aren’t just a fashion statement, they’re teething aids. Maybe.

There are two types of mother: those who believe in the powers of amber to provide pain relief to their drooling beast, and those who are just too embarrassed to look like they believe in the powers of amber to provide pain relief to their drooling beast.

In theory, the succinic acid in the amber acts as a natural painkiller, absorbed by their lovely warm skin and sending some sort of happy hippy zippy zaps towards their teeth. In practice, this is scientifically impossible. Plus, they’re not actually very safe: choking hazard, strangulation hazard, all that jazz. But hey, if it gets you through the day, proceed with caution.

So, what does help then?

Moaning about it to your mum friends from Mush helps. Oh, you mean what helps the baby? Pfft. Bonjela, Calpol, Nurofen, those powders that make you feel like you’re doing recreational drugs with your baby are all worth a go… but they’ll probably prefer sleeping in your bed and gnawing your boobs.

Why did ten different friends give me a rubber giraffe when the baby was born?

Sophie la Girafe is a popular overpriced teething aid. Like a middle-class dog toy. Everyone has one. Wait, everyone has four. Some mums like to proffer them to their offspring in an exaggerated French accent: “Finlay, would you like to play with Soh-fee lah jeeeeghraf now?” making you wonder if Finlay has red cheeks because he’s teething, or is just embarrassed by his mum.

Why is teething worse at night?

Because everything is worse at night.

Does teething really cause an upset tummy?

Some people say there is no evidence of this. These people are liars. Lots of babies do weird, explosive, mucussy poos (and even vomit) when they’re teething because of all that drool they’re swallowing. It makes total sense, but it’s grim. You’ll think they have a terrible bug (obviously if you REALLY think this then see a doctor) and then, lo and behold, a few days later a pesky little tooth pokes through and the flow of grossness abruptly stops.

So, beware, if you are #blessed with a spewy teether, it’s back to those newborn habits of carrying 17 muslins, three changes of clothes (for you and them), ALL the wipes, a range of carpet cleaning implements and an apologetic face.

When should I start brushing their teeth?

It’s good to form this habit early, plus baby toothbrushes are dead cute. So, once a tooth or two has broken through, try and start brushing (using the teeniest smear of baby toothpaste – you can just dab the bristles in the top of the tube) once or twice a day. Do yours at the same time because your baby has an unsophisticated sense of humour and will find it flipping hilarious.

When will this hell end?

Generally, it slows down a bit once the first few are through, although gets nasty again when they’re two-ish and their back molars do their thing.

And then, in a few years, those teeth, those evil teeth that caused so much pain, will only go and fall out and cost the tooth fairy* ACTUAL MONEY. What a bloody waste of time and energy all that was.

* you. You’re the tooth fairy. As if you didn’t have enough roles already.

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