Homegrown with Hope: Survival Guide to Teething Pain

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BISMARCK, N.D. - I'm deep in the trenches of an age-old battle with my 5-month-old.

She's cutting teeth, and I am trying all tactics to survive it. Now, I'm calling in the reinforcements. This week's Homegrown with Hope is your survival guide to the teething process.

With the clock ticking down to our witching hour, Lucy and I ventured out into the world in search of relief to the teething pain that has us both crying out for help.

To the rescue, pediatrician Dr. Amy Juelson at Mid Dakota Clinic. She could read the looks on our faces. She saw the signs that we needed her expertise.

Those signs include, according to Juelson, vigorous chewing, drool, irritability, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite and swelling on the gums.

She says some parents may even become confused by those signs. Teething pain can sometimes travel up into babies' ears.

"They'll be poking their fingers in their ears or they'll be pulling on the ears. It's teething," said Dr. Juelson.

She tends to see them start popping up around four months, which was exactly the case for my drooling monster. But, teething pain can last up to two years.

"It seems like those first top eight, and bottom eight, are the ones that give you the most trouble," said Dr. Juelson.

So what will help? A search for teething toys on Amazon will reveal thousands of results. From mittens, to cookies, jewelry and, of course, the ever popular Sophie the Giraffe, there are countless ways to soothe babies' gums.

Dr. Juelson the giraffe is so popular for good reason. "I've seen many infants just go to town on that giraffe head. It's easy to hold and easy to direct to their mouth."

She says what works for you is what works for your baby. Some may prefer gnawing on fruit slices or wet wash cloths. I have the banana toothbrush, which may help us down the road, as well.

"Once you have teeth erupt, you need to start brushing those," she said.

You can also ask your doctor's recommendations on Tylenol. Save yourself from splurging on teething toys, and throw the pacifier in the fridge to provide some relief to your uncomfortable child. Just avoid the freezer because it can cause frost bite. Steer clear of beads, paint, and anything that can be a choking hazard or isn't FDA approved.

Many moms use amber necklaces for a natural way to relieve pain. Dr. Juelson says there isn't much science to back it up, but it's worth a shot as long as it isn't a strangulation risk.

Finally, she adds, if all else fails, try distractions.

"It's somewhat easier to ignore when you're busy. Then, when you stop being busy, it becomes a real nuisance," said Dr. Juelson.