I can’t say that I knew baby was teething, even though looking back, I did think it was weird that when I would pick him up out of his crib in the morning, he would sort of crunch up and then try to hook himself, jaw first, onto my shoulder. Honestly, at first, I thought he was just excited to see me.
Then there was the drool.
But, having no other babies or even younger siblings of my own, I didn’t think it was all that weird that babies drooled. I mean, they are babies after all, right?
Did I mention he was cranky?
Well, really only in the afternoons. And he wasn’t really inconsolably cranky; rather, he was just mildly annoyed and irritated all afternoon. I, being new at this mom thing, just chalked it up to the fact that he wasn’t too keen on napping on the afternoons anymore.
So, I guess you don’t know what you don’t know. Even though all the teething signs were there, I didn’t see them. He was four months old at the time; wasn’t teething reserved for the 6+ monthers?
After a couple of drool-y weeks where baby couldn’t stop pulling things toward his mouth–from the blankie to the totally dirty diaper that I thought was out of his reach–finally he latched on to my finger. Owww! I felt the two little nubs on his bottom gums poking through the soft, pink flesh. No wonder nursing had started to feel more like a contact sport.
But even with the tell-tale signs and the biting, I wasn’t sure. I needed a look.
Good luck, sister. Try getting a four-month-old to open wide enough and long enough for you to get a good gander at whatever chompers might be debuting. I mean, a bikini-clad Tooth Fairy waving a $100 bill couldn’t have made this little man keep his mouth open long enough for me to confirm that what my finger had felt was indeed the real thing. But two weeks later, it was official; we clearly had two pearly whites staring back at us every time baby smiled.
But I didn’t really think past those first teeth. I never really considered the teething process–like how long after one tooth appears will the next one show up, whether the signs will be different for front teeth versus molars, or even how long before he’s got the whole mouthful of teeth. I had sort of hoped that baby would get some sort of reprieve between each debut, where he would go back to his normal self for a little bit before the drooling and crankiness started back up. But my cousin assures that I’m dreaming; once the teething process starts, it doesn’t stop until all the teeth are in. Of course at that point, the babes start losing them, but let’s not go there for now.
Besides the shoulder mauling, what pains me the most about teething is that baby turned into a real cranky pants in the afternoons. And he’s generally a pretty easy going little guy, so this was disturbing to me. Even more disturbing was that even if I fed him, he wouldn’t sedate. He’d gnaw on a bottle nipple or, worse yet, decide to check out something else in the room while nursing, pulling with his not-yet-developed pearls on what I used to consider some delicate pink parts. I hate that.
The biggest change I made once I realized he was indeed teething was I started him on solids. (You can check out my post on baby’s first solids here.) And it seemed to do the trick–at first. But then the newness wore off and I still had a cranky, drool-y baby on my hands.
So, I turned to teethers. I have to admit that I always thought that teethers were a crock. They seemed like they were just something over-tired parents bought in hopes of getting another 15 minutes of sleep or 15 minutes more in front of your inbox. Here I am a month+ after the first teeth appeared and I’m pretty sure that’s really all that they are. Here’s my proof:
Needless to say, we’ve tried a lot of teethers. But as much as I’d love to tell my mommy-friends that I’ve got the fool-proof teething solution, I don’t. Honestly, sometimes I think my baby is happier munching on the nose of his stuffed Tigger than any of the other approved teether toys I give him. Which is sad. Because I really love these little guys:
There are a number of manufacturers, but I happen to have the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder. And although I feel like they should be easier to open, I love them. And I don’t even really use them for their primary purpose, which is to give babies a chance to gnaw on some food to get some flavor without worrying about them choking on it. At this stage, I mostly just stick an ice cube in it and hope that it numbs whatever dull, irritating pain baby must feel in his mouth constantly. I’d love to say that it works, but, despite how genius I think this contraption is, it doesn’t really solve the whole pain problem. But nonetheless, this little thingy tends to make it into whatever new-mommy-and-baby gift basket that I happen to be putting together. I really think that if it’s not now, it’ll be soon enough when I get my money out of this thing.
My husband keeps saying that I should rub some vodka on his gums–that’s what his grandmother used to do for the babies in his family–but I feel like he might have gotten that wrong. I always thought it was brandy, but maybe Polish people do it differently. But baby’s not so unhappy now that I’m ready to medicate, in one way or another, so, I guess for now, I’ve just got to remember not to stick my fingers inside baby’s cage.