How to Soothe a Teething Baby

Teething can be an uncomfortable process, and many parents seek advice on how to soothe a teething baby. Luckily, there are many at-home baby-teething remedies that can do the trick. Read on for tips on how to soothe a teething baby, plus what to avoid and how to care for your little one’s new set of choppers!

10 Tips on How to Soothe a Teething Baby

Teething is a natural process and every baby experiences it. But, on occasion, teething can cause a few uncomfortable symptoms, including

  • mild irritability

  • occasional crying

  • low-grade fever (lower than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • excessive drooling

  • the desire to chew on hard items

  • swollen and tender gums.

So, what can you give a teething baby to provide comfort and pain relief? We’ve rounded up 9 of our best tips on how to soothe a teething baby and manage any troublesome symptoms at home, along with following the advice of your little one’s healthcare provider.

1. Chilled Fruit

Once you’ve introduced your baby to solid foods, which typically occurs around 6 months, you can help soothe those sore gums with a tasty snack of chilled mashed bananas, applesauce, strawberries, melon, or other soft fruits.

2. Cool Washcloth

If you’re wondering what can help a teething baby, it doesn’t get simpler than this remedy! Take a clean washcloth and submerge it in water, wring it out until just damp, and place it in the fridge on a clean surface. Once cool, fold it and give to your baby to chew on, which may help relieve those sore gums.

3. Cool Metal Spoon

What’s good for teething and something you have laying around the house? Spoons! Grab a small, metal spoon from your kitchen drawer and put it in the fridge. When the spoon is cool, gently rub the curved side against your baby’s gums.

4. Chilled, Non-Gel Teething Toy

If you’re reading this list in full, perhaps you’ve noticed a trend: cold things. Soothing your baby’s gums with something cold (but not frozen) turns out to be one of the best strategies for easing teething pain. If your baby has a trusty teething toy made of rubber, you can place it in the fridge. Allow it to cool before handing it to your baby, taking care to keep it clean.

5. Gum Massage

For pain relief, one of the best teething remedies is gentle gum massage. After washing your hands, use your fingers to carefully rub your baby’s gums with gentle, circular motions. Your baby might instinctively start to suck or chew on your fingers, and that’s OK, too!

6. Warm Bath

Sometimes, how to soothe a teething baby goes beyond the gums. Give your little one a warm, relaxing bath. It can soothe their body and may also be a fun distraction from discomfort.

7. Wiping the Drool

One of the main signs of teething is drooling, which can lead to drool rash. Help protect your baby’s skin and clothes with soft bibs, which you can then use to wipe your baby's chin, keeping their face clean and dry!

8. Cuddles

Make sure your baby gets lots of snuggling and hugs. Sometimes, the biggest comfort for a teething baby can be cuddle time with you. Pick a comfortable chair and rock your baby gently. This will provide some quiet time for hugs and comfort, while also giving you both some much-needed rest.

9. Baby Teething Medicine

If you’re concerned that your baby’s teething discomfort can’t be soothed by any of the above methods, consult your little one’s healthcare provider for advice on using pain relief medication or baby teething medicine. Some parents naturally wonder about using medicines like baby acetaminophen for teething. This is the perfect question to ask your child’s healthcare provider, who can recommend the best over-the-counter-medication and make sure the correct dosage is used. For even more advice on how to help a teething baby, watch the video below!

BONUS: How to Soothe a Teething Baby at Night

Baby teething pain can strike at any time, including at night when your little one is sleeping. If your teething baby is waking up at night, you may be searching for ways to soothe pain while sleeping. Though there aren’t any distinct techniques for how to soothe a teething baby at night versus during the day, some of the tips mentioned above work well as part of your baby's bedtime routine. Here's what to include:

  • Bedtime bath. A warm, relaxing bath can help your little one settle down and fall asleep, especially when they’re feeling some discomfort from teething.

  • Nighttime cuddles. Before putting your baby down for the night, do some cuddling and rocking. This is calming for babies at any time but could be especially helpful at bedtime to prepare for sleep while soothing any discomforts.

  • Massage. As your little one drifts off to sleep, use your clean fingers to massage their gums. You might even see your baby nodding off with this technique!

  • Cool washcloth. Before bed, let your baby suck on a cool, clean washcloth. The soothing effect can help relieve any discomfort as your little one gets sleepy.

Teething Treatments: What to Avoid

You’ll find lots of advice on what to give a teething baby, but be aware that not all teething treatments are good choices for your little one. The best teething relief for babies is something that will soothe their gums and is safe. Therefore, it’s best to avoid the following:

  • Frozen remedies. It’s tempting to pop your baby’s teething toy into the freezer or offer them a frozen treat for comfort. However, baby teething remedies that involve freezing often cause more harm than good, as frozen items are too hard and cold for your little one’s delicate gums.

  • Teething necklaces. Experts do not recommend using teething necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry, as the small parts could come loose and pose a choking hazard. Teething necklaces can also cause mouth injuries or infections and, in rare cases, strangulation.

  • Hard teething toys. Likewise, health experts advise avoiding hard teething toys made from wood, metal, or plastic. Instead, stick to rubber teething toys that are gentle on your baby’s gums.

  • Certain baby teething medication. The best teething medicine is whatever your child’s healthcare provider recommends. Many teething gels and ointments for babies can either wash out of your child’s mouth before getting the chance to be effective or are harmful if swallowed in large amounts. For example, medicines containing benzocaine or lidocaine can even be fatal.

  • Homeopathic or over-the-counter teething treatments. Again, always heed the advice of your baby’s healthcare provider when it comes to using teething gels, ointments, tablets, or other medication for babies. Some common ingredients like belladonna have been linked to medical issues, such as seizures.

When to Call Your Baby’s Healthcare Provider

Besides being aware of what to avoid when it comes to teething soothers, it also helps knowing when to contact your baby’s healthcare provider. Many parents wonder if teething can cause fever, especially at night. Although a slightly elevated temperature, sometimes called a low-grade fever, is possible, teething generally doesn’t cause fever. If your little one has a rectal temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s not likely due to teething and you should contact their healthcare provider. In addition to consulting your baby’s healthcare provider about fever, contact them in the following situations:

  • Inconsolable crying. Teething shouldn’t cause excessive crying or discomfort. How to soothe a teething baby is about reducing mild discomforts, as teething wouldn’t be the cause of extreme or inconsolable pain.

  • Diarrhea. Likewise, if your baby is experiencing diarrhea, it’s probably not due to teething.

  • Reduced appetite. Although teething can cause swollen and tender gums, it shouldn’t necessarily interrupt feedings. Contact your child’s healthcare provider if teething appears to cause a lack of appetite or the discomfort interferes with eating or drinking.

Caring for Your Baby’s New Teeth

Knowing what to do for your teething baby is just the start of the journey! Now that your little one has some new teeth to show off, you might be happy to learn that caring for them is actually an easy process. You’ll just need the following supplies:

  • Toothbrush. The key is to use a soft-bristled toothbrush made specifically for delicate baby gums, which you can find at any drugstore.

  • Toothpaste. Likewise, your local drugstore will also have toothpaste designed for infants.

Then, simply brush your baby’s teeth as you would your own, using gentle motions to clean all parts of the teeth and gums.

When to Brush

Begin brushing even before you notice your baby’s teeth emerging, as keeping your child’s mouth bacteria-free is an important part of the teething process and oral health in general. Brushing regularly at this early stage helps prevent tooth decay later on, which can be a result of poor dental hygiene at a younger age. Ten percent of 2-year-olds already have one or more cavities, and that number jumps to 50 percent by age 5. To prevent cavities and future tooth decay, follow these guidelines:

  • Brush after feedings. Clean your little one’s gums and teeth after feedings. Leftover food can cause cavities, and the natural sugar in breast milk and formula can attract bacteria.

  • Don’t let your baby sleep with a bottle. Avoid allowing your baby to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth or right after a feeding. This can lead to milk or formula pooling in the mouth, which is the perfect environment for damaging bacteria to form.

  • Create a dental hygiene routine at home. Once your child is older, help them develop a dental hygiene routine that will stick through their toddler years and beyond. Kids tend to only brush the teeth they see, so be sure they’re cleaning all teeth on all sides. You can always make teeth brushing fun for your little one!

Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your diaper bag in case you need to brush while out and about. Do you have all the other diaper bag essentials? Take our quiz below to find out!

The Bottom Line

Teething may be a natural process, but it isn’t always fun for your baby! If you’re wondering how to soothe a teething baby, we hope this article gives you helpful information and useful techniques to consider, such as

  • gum massage

  • chilled fruits

  • chilled rubber chewing toys

  • cool washcloth

  • cool metal spoon

  • warm, soothing bath

  • lots of cuddles

  • managing drool

  • baby teething medicine (as advised by a healthcare provider).

Remember, knowing about remedies for pain relief and what to give a teething baby is just part of the process. Once your little one begins to teethe, it’s time to start brushing! Avoid cavities by brushing after feedings, not letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle, and establishing a dental hygiene routine as your child gets older. If your little one’s teething comes with fever or diarrhea, it’s probably due to something besides growing a new set of choppers. If these conditions occur, or if teething interrupts your child’s feeding, contact their healthcare provider. If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s teething journey, remember that their provider is always there to help. How to help and soothe your teething baby is probably at the forefront of your mind right now, but know that pain relief is in sight and, soon enough, your little one will be flashing an adorable smile full of teeth!