By: Stephanie Duhon

We made it through the dreaded first tooth a little tired, but mostly unscathed. My daughter Nicole’s bottom tooth finally made its appearance last week, after 5 days of almost non-stop fussiness and poor eating. It was a very stressful 5 days for baby and mama as on top of the teething, my husband was sick. But we persevered and after Nicole took an unusually long nap last Monday morning, I noticed the tooth has broken through the gum line while feeding her lunch. It was such a wonderful feeling. She was back to her happy self that afternoon and ate quite a bit, probably to make up for eating less the days before!

Nicole, who is 7 months old, started showing signs of teething as early as 3 months old, but the symptoms were off and on. She would fuss during certain feedings (usually at night) and began drooling like crazy. But it was not until about 5.5 months that she started really chewing on everything in sight. A bib, a burp cloth, a teething ring, her Sophie the Giraffe … she would even chew on her onesie! My husband and I both got our first tooth around 7 months, so I was not surprised to see teething symptoms increase as she approached that mark, but in the 5 days leading up to that first tooth, Nicole would start crying as soon as she saw the bottle and if she did accept it, she would chew on the nipple or eat an ounce and then push the bottle away or start squirming. It was heartbreaking to know that she was hurting and there was not much I could do but try to relieve the pain. I tried Baby Orajel, but it did not seem to help much. By the time I found some teething tablets, the tooth had already arrived!

However, many moms had great advice to help Nicole (and me!) through that first tooth. For Nicole, the best thing to help her pain was to give her something cold, whether a chilled teething ring, cold solids or formula or a washcloth from the freezer. I started preparing her bottles in advance and leaving them in the fridge. Then she’d eat about half of it before she would cry, so while she took a break, I would put the rest of the bottle in the freezer for about 5 minutes. She would turn her head away at first, but when she realized the nipple was cold, she would finish the bottle. I started feeding her smaller quantities more often. Instead of 6 to 8 ounces every 3 to 4 hours, she’d have 2 to 4 ounces every 2 hours or so. My pediatrician told me as long as she’s getting enough formula throughout the day, it doesn’t matter how much she gets at a time. The teething did not seem to bother her while eating solids (seemed to be more pressure from sucking on the bottle), so she ended up eating a little bit more baby food than she had before, but by giving her small amounts of formula at a time, she still got at least the minimum for her weight each day.

I also discovered that the beautiful spring weather worked as a wonderful distraction. When all else failed, I brought Nicole outside to eat on the swing and the change of scenery (and nice breeze!) worked wonders. I think she could spend the entire day outdoors! I also found that feeding her sitting up instead of reclined sometimes helped.

After a few blissful days back to normal, Nicole has started getting fussy again and I can see a second bottom tooth just below the gum line. Hopefully cold bottles, teethers, toys and lots of love will help her make it through this one and the ones to come!